This week’s featured web series is the very smartly produced Riley Rewind, brought to you from YouTube stars Anna Akana and Ray William Johnson.
On Hypable.com we like to showcase some of the most watch-worthy and high quality web series – and while the budget shouldn’t matter, as we are mainly looking for good acting and story ideas, high production value sure doesn’t hurt a web series’ watchability.
Last week we praised the first episode of comedy series 2040, and this time we tackle the popular 2013 YouTube drama Riley Rewind.
Riley Rewind looks and feels so professional, it’s easy to forget that it was written and produced without the aid of a big name Hollywood studio.
The series was directed by vlogger Ray William Johnson and written by actress/writer Anna Akana. It follows lead character Riley (who is played by Akana herself) as she attempts to use her time travelling ability to save a classmate from committing suicide.
Watch the first episode below:
Both Johnson and Akana have a lot of experience producing short films and series for the digital platform; Johnson is best known for his web series Equals Three, while Akana (who also has her own weekly vlog) has written and starred in more than 10 short films (notably: Pregnapocalypse), and is currently working on a feature.
Riley Rewind certainly benefits from their experience and passion for the craft. In five short episodes the series manages to cleverly cover all the tropes of the high school genre: there’s a prom, there’s a suicide (more on that later), there’s a gay best friend, an unrequited crush, a psycho loner kid… and the looming threat of the end of the world, which most shows centred on high school students manage to incorporate in one way or another.
But Riley Rewind is a lot more than “just” a good web series. Its central conflict surrounds a girl committing suicide, and Riley trying to save her; the comedic series manages to deal with this serious issue in a tasteful, relatable way, in large part because Akana drew on her own personal experience with the subject when writing the story.
“[The character] is born out of the tragedy that is my sister,” Akana told Mochimag just after the release of the series, adding that, “it sends a really good message about anti-bullying and anti-suicide.”
Riley Rewind was produced by Akana and Johnson’s joint production company Runaway Planet. The team is in the process of pitching the series for television, so here’s hoping for a resolution to that epic cliffhanger!
What do you think about Riley Rewind?
Stay tuned for more web series news and feature articles – and tell us about your favourite web series in the comments!