11:00 am EDT, March 11, 2014

‘Kissing in the Rain’ review: A web series to capture Tumblr’s heart

The web series inspired by a John Green quote could be the next big thing in online storytelling.

It’s the John Green-inspired web series that wears its fandom heart on its sleeve. The quote, “If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane,” is taken from Green’s bestselling debut Looking for Alaska. Such is its eminence on Tumblr, it can be found on an abundance of T-shirts, mugs, and artworks. It even has an entire Tumblr dedicated to it. You don’t get much more Tumblr-centric than this.

But Kissing in the Rain goes a step further. The web series looks to be entirely comprised of the lingering looks, snarky dialogue and kisses in the rain that invariably (and have already) become Tumblr GIFs and collages.

Characters Lily (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries‘ Mary Kate Wiles) and James (A Tell Tale Vlog‘s Sean Persaud) are obvious references to the Harry Potter characters of the same name. The actors even look the part. If ever a show looked likely to be dismissed as Tumblr-bait, this is the one.

And yet, it is undeniably and wonderfully watchable. And not only watchable, but enjoyable.

kissing in the rain

Kissing in the Rain is saved by its own self-awareness. It is the kind of show that could only be made by a creative team in touch with fandom and Tumblr. In the hands of anyone else, it would come off as crash, commercial pandering – and in all likelihood, it probably would be.

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But the most fascinating element is the transmedia experiment set to accompany the web series. Showrunner Yulin Kuang will write a short story for every episode – and then fans are invited to create their own fan canon for the show. If their contribution is reblogged by the official Tumblr, it becomes Kissing in the Rain canon.

Interview: Yulin Kuang discusses the Kissing in the Rain transmedia experiment

kissing in the rainkissing in the rainKuang’s transmedia experiment questions the very nature of canon, and the involvement of fans (or anyone other than the creator of a work) in its creation.

This embracing of fandom and fan communities could be the next big thing in transmedia. It will likely generate a closer relationship between the creative team and fandom, and see these usually clear cut lines become blurred.

However, this decision also relies on the sacrificing by a showrunner of some element of their creative control – something that may inspire greater reluctance on the part of future web series showrunners.

Kissing in the Rain is a gift to Tumblr, and the creative team seem to know it. The transmedia experiment, character names, and the use of parallel stories all add to this sense of self-aware and very intentional contradiction. It is a show about James and Lily, but not about James and Lily Potter (although an entirely valid interpretation sees the entire show as an alternate universe Harry Potter fanfiction).

It is about romantic idealism – literally, kissing in the rain. Yet even that is demonstrated to be a misleading facade; the kiss is abruptly cut off by the Kissing in the Rain title card and the director yelling cut, and when the scene returns Lily and James are not the lovers we thought them to be, but simply actors playing a role.

Perhaps it is simply a fun and fresh web series about attractive couples kissing in the rain. Or, perhaps it is all of those things. Either way, Kissing in the Rain is a series to keep your eye on.

Kissing in the Rain premieres each Monday on the Shipwrecked Comedy YouTube.

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