Is a YT series that starts "non-fictional" but becomes NOT old hat?
January 14, 2020 12:44 AM   Subscribe

I have a concept for a YouTube series that would begin with an ostensibly non-fictional premise that over a series of episodes moves into something entirely fictional. Has this been done (too much) before?

Basically, it would be a YouTube channel where the first few episodes are vanilla, innocuous YouTube nonsense (reviews of something?), but then something dramatic happens in the host's life that transitions the channel into something else over time. To be clear, I want to be up front about the fictional nature of the series, and not clumsily attempt viral stuff. Overt storytelling, but through that format.

I'm pretty comfortable that the actual narrative of this series is original enough, but I'm not sure about the format. The "YouTube channel gone weird" thing seems like it should have been an obvious format that's been done multiple times before, but I'm not aware of any examples.

Has it been done? Has it been done too often? If so, what are some examples?
posted by brundlefly to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's lonelygirl15, which was one of the first big YouTube successes. I'm sure it started a copycat trend 13 (yikes) years ago, but I can't think of any recent examples.

If you're confident in the narrative, I say go for it (and share!).
posted by mcfighty at 1:25 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]

Marble Hornets is another more recent example -- started out like a student film project, morphed into Slenderman creepiness. Also I think there was a zombie apocalypse one 4-5 years ago, but that might not have been on YouTube proper.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:46 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]

Ha! Rhaomi, I just watched half of Marble Hornets today, and it's what inspired me to ask this question. I'm really digging it. I've had the general idea for this story for years, but Marble Hornets made me think the YouTube channel format would work better than a traditional feature. The only reason I didn't mention it in my question is that Marble Hornets kinda starts off as creepy genre fare. Investigation into Alex's disappearance and what not. Jay doesn't start with Apple product unboxings or something and then drift into something else.
posted by brundlefly at 2:14 AM on January 14

Alantutorial did this about five years ago. There was a post about it here.

A description here (spoilers in the rest of the article?):
In the first few videos of the canon, Alan teaches the viewer how to accomplish various bizarre, often mundane tasks such as filling a small box with dirt and crushing soda cans with wooden planks. In one instance, Alan's instructions are interrupted by a loud knocking at the door, and in the next video, Alan appears to have been locked in a closet.

Soon Alan seems to run out of ideas for new tutorials. To make matters worse, something scary finds its way into his room and gives him spooks, and immediately afterwards his beloved blue chair is knocked over. This tragic turn of events deeply upsets Alan, but he soon finds his motivation again and continues making tutorials.
posted by rollick at 2:26 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]

It's not quite the same, but you might look at the 'transmedia' that was done by Pemberley Digital (and then others, once the format saw some success). The original show was The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, an adaptation of Pride & Prejudice set in the current day, and told through the YouTube vlogs and social media of Lizzie (Elizabeth) Bennet. I think there were some creators who tried the format with original content - perhaps the term 'transmedia storytelling' will be a useful to find some of them.
posted by yuwtze at 7:36 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]

You Suck At Photoshop continued to be a really good photoshop tutorial series until the very end, but it also increasingly developed a narrative. That was in 2012. That said, I think you should just make this thing and try to make it good rather than worrying about novelty value.
posted by Acheman at 10:04 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]

I just learned the other day about Petscop, which begins as a Let's Play of a [fictional] PlayStation game from the 90s and gets weird from there.
posted by Polycarp at 10:20 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]

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