In an effort to extend his long arm into new media, former Disney CEO MichaelEisner has taken on web video. In March 2007, Eisner’s investment firm, The Tornante Company formed Vuguru studios to take on the task of creating edgy and interesting internet programming. Sponsored by Hairspray the movie, Prom Queen, a PG-13 teen serial launched in April 2007, is the studio’s first endeavour. The show is co-produced by Big Fantastic, who also produced the widely successful internet series Sam Has 7 Friends, the rights of which were recently purchased by Eisner’s Tornante. Prom Queen has become the favorite of new media-minded cool kids, reportedly averaging approximately 200,000 views per episode. The serial originally launched in partnership with video-sharing site Veoh, which is also partially backed by Eisner, but premiered on its very own MySpace page.
Daily installments of the 80-episode teenage soap are released in bite-sized 90-second chunks that typically end with a stirring cliffhanger. The plot follows the lives of a group of high school seniors anxiously awaiting Prom as a murder mystery eerily unfolds. A rumbling gossip mill, hot actors, impending innuendo, sexual tension and of course, secrets and lies all make for apt comparisons to teen dramas like the O.C. or One Tree Hill and hit Vuguru’s teenybopper demographic right on the money (though if you’re a post-teen and still enjoy re-runs of 90210, go for it, we won’t tell). While episodes are brief, they are executed to include the kind of subtle detail which takes talent, allowing viewers to get intimate with the players, and gradually upping the stakes.
Among the thirteen main characters are the usual suspects with a bit of a twist. There is: Ben, “most likely to succeed,” Lauren, “class flirt,” Curtis, “most likely to destroy the world,” Courtney, “most likely to be famous,” and Danica, the British foreign exchange student. In the first episode a disoriented Danica wakes up in the woods outside her home, unable to explain how she got there. In the second show Danica attempts to interview her classmates to understand American teenagers’ obsession with prom night, while Ben receives a mysterious text message—”U r going to kill the prom queen.” Subsequent episodes seem to foreshadow an eerie upcoming disaster, as the class prepares for biggest night of their lives.
Start from the beginning with the first episode, and watch them in order, or you’ll feel lost in all the petty gossip, emotional roller coasters, and everything else that made high school so much…fun(?).