It’s heartening to see a new longer-form sitdotcom hit the virtual universe, especially one that’s actually watchable and rather charming. Though not breakthrough in most ways, Inconvenient Molly represents the rare web serial more interested in taking its time and developing real characters, rather than relying on “the quick-laugh,” copious pop culture references, parody and the like.
### But one has to ask whether there’s something about how we watch video on the web that puts longer shows like these at an immediate disadvantage. We’ve all been guilty of using certain compound buzzwords like “web-friendly” and “youtube-esque” to describe successful Internet TV, yet it’s shows like Molly, which seem to break a lot of these rules, that force me to reclassify my judgments as prejudgments. Perhaps this “shorter + faster = better” sentiment is simply undue prejudice, a relic from the older days of shabby web connections, less user-friendly compression modes, and fewer portable video players.
Inconvenient Molly follows Molly Brooks, a former child-star forced by her parents to go to college (lame!) but now trying to make it again as an actress. Molly hired a director named Lisa, perhaps from craigslist, to make a documentary about her plunge back into show business. The show itself is this documentary, more or less unedited, although I wish it were a bit messier and choppier. And as in Clark and Michael (Tilzy.TV page) and other documentary-style sitdotcoms, the camera is itself character. Molly takes this even further, as the cameraperson actually has a name, Lisa, and a face, as she does on-camera testimonials.
The pilot episode is about 13 minutes long, and definitely feels like it can be a little shorter and tighter, but creator Jeremy Robbins tells me that he considered the pilot as a “double episode” designed to introduce the characters and that subsequent episodes will be about 8 minutes long. Eli Clark, who deftly plays Molly, is also a co-creator. Check her out here:
Robbins appears confident that Molly, despite it’s length, which he admits isn’t exactly “kosher for the Internet,” still can succeed. “We looked at shows like Clark and Michael which takes the time to develop characters and gets an audience involved and shows like The Burg (Tilzy.TV page) that utilizes a pretty big cast. Both of these shows make long-form episodes that are hilarious. We wanted our show to look a little more like a short TV show than a sketch video.”
I hope the producers keep the gimmick of starting each episode with an old commercial by child-star Molly, a la Six Feet Under but much less morbid. And Robbins explains that full versions of young and old Molly’s commercials could show up as extra content, which will number about 2 or 3 per episode, helping to “further the plot and develop the world of the show.”
A recent Washington Post headline reminds us, “Networks Are Streaming Into Prime Time Online.” Yes, more and more 30-minute and even hour long TV shows are fully watchable online, a phenomenon that simply didn’t exist just a year or so ago. As we start viewing long-form tv shows we know and love online, will we then begin to feel more comfortable about watching long-form web exclusive shows, providing they’re actually creatively written and well-acted?
Perhaps it is just a question of quality – both content quality and technical video quality. When changing the virtual channel is as easy as clicking another bookmark or the “back” button, it seems logical that longer vids need to be that much engaging and clear in order to stay our mouse-button-happy fingers. I’m not convinced the pacing of Molly has arrived there yet, but I’ve only seen one episode so far, and they’re definitely on the right track.
And as creator Jeremy Robbins reminded me, whether or not Molly is entirely “web-friendly,” at this point in his career, the Internet was the only medium welcoming him with open arms. “Two minutes out of college nobody was going to offer us eight million dollars to make a movie, so we figured this was something we could afford.”