Four TV Shows That Got Their Start Online

image of broad city stars ilana glazer and abbi jacobson

With networks like Comedy Central, HBO and truTV now picking up webseries as full length shows, the race to produce marketable content is on. Here are four tv shows that got their start online:

Drunk History
On August 6th, 2007 Mark Gagliardi drank a bottle of Scotch…and then discussed a famous historical event.

True to its name, the premise of Drunk History is based on an inebriated narrator attempting to retell an historic event in American history, with dramatic recreations shot to illustrate the story. The webseries was launched by Funny or Die in 2007 and featured an impressive rotating cast of comedic talent.

In 2010 the episode titled Drunk History: Douglass & Lincoln, starring Will Ferrell and Don Cheadle, screened at the Sundance Film Festival and took home the award for Best American Short.

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay came onto the series as executive producers, and Comedy Central picked it up for a series, which premiered in 2013. The show is currently in its third season.


 Jake and Amir

In 2007 two CollegeHumour writers Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld began shooting short comedic videos in their office where they played exaggerated versions of themselves, Jake as the sensible straight man, and Amir as his obsessive and socially offensive co-worker.

The series grew in popularity and ran for eight years, gaining around half a billion views over its seven-hundred and fifty episodes. In 2015 it concluded, with the final eight episodes airing online. After a plan to launch the webseries as a show on TBS fizzled out, a social media campaign #GreenLightJakeandAmir prompted truTV to order a pilot of the Jake and Amir TV show.

Broad City
Upright Citizens Brigade alumni Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson first introduced Broad City as a webseries in 2010, following their misadventures as two young women living in New York City. Playing fictionalized versions of themselves, Glazer is a marijuana-loving slacker and Jacobson is a struggling illustrator.

The webseries gained popularity and attracted the attention of Amy Poehler, who became an executive producer on the show and acted as a mentor to Glazer and Jacobson, helping them develop the show into a television series, Broad City premiered on Comedy Central in early 2014, and was received with praise from both critics and the public. The show is currently in its third season.

High Maintenance
In 2013 High Maintenance was launched as a partnership between show creators Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfiel and Vimeo, as the site’s first original series. The show follows an unnamed drug dealer as he delivers marijuana to a diverse host of clients in New York City. Each episode features a new cast of characters.

While the first several episodes were released for free, the show retuned for a second season via Vimeo On Demand with a longer run time and a price tag attached. This proved to be a lucrative play, as High Maintenance quickly became one of the all-time top-selling releases on the site.

The webseries made the final move to television when it was announced in 2015 that HBO had acquired the series. Along with a new season they re-released past episodes of the show on their network as well as HBO GO and HBO NOW

Bonus round! Here are four other tv shows that got their start online:

  • Web Therapy – picked up by Showtime in 2010
  • Ugly Americans – picked up by Comedy Central in 2010
  • The Annoying Orange – picked up by The Cartoon Network in 2012
  • Children’s Hospital – picked up by Adult Swim in 2009
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