A New Appreciation for YouTube

New Appreciation for YouTube | Lexie WinslowI was very late to the YouTube party. Obviously I’ve used it since 2006 just like everyone else, but for me it was never more than the biggest video content warehouse on the web. It came in handy for quick software how-to tutorials and music videos. Other people I knew logged hours of free time on YouTube in an endless stream of epic fail compilations and ‘90s movies supercuts and footage of weird athletic achievements. I didn’t see the appeal.

That all changed for me with the Pride and Prejudice web series adaptation, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. (Yes, another important cultural discovery made possible by Jane Austen. The woman is the gift that keeps on giving.) This series reframed the story as a video diary made by Lizzie Bennet (here a grad student focused on new media) with the help of her sisters and friends.

For a small team of budding filmmakers working with amateurs on a tight budget, the final product was really high quality. Both as an interpretation of Pride and Prejudice and as a weekly (very short) television show, The Lizzie Bennett Diaries impressed.

I may have been skeptical at first, but after bingewatching the first two months, I eagerly awaited every new episode (Mondays and Thursdays, 9 AM Pacific!). When it ended, I couldn’t believe how much I missed it, and more than once wished for a second season. (Hence, Pride and Prejudice sequels.) Same goes for the production company’s follow up series, Emma Approved.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries opened my eyes to YouTube’s potential—as a viewer, marketer, and a possible content creator. And I bet I’m not alone in that.

Since then, I’ve been voracious in seeking out people and groups who use YouTube in fresh, effective ways. My favorite thing about the YouTube platform itself is the Subscription feed, queueing up the latest videos from my favorite accounts for me to peruse while waiting in line or awake with insomnia. I have, admittedly, gone overboard with the subscriptions, currently following over 60 accounts and hunting for more on a daily basis… But here, in no particular order, are my top ten favorites:

  1. PBS Idea Channel: Spending 10 minutes a week with host Mike Rugnetta analyzing the intersection of entertainment, technology, and ethics is like taking a time machine back to the hyper-intellectual, über tolerant, competitively curious schools of my youth.
  2. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: If you don’t get HBO, they upload a good chunk of this show to YouTube every Monday. It is the best comic news program around, and the thing is, the way it challenges societal injustice actually kind of breaks my heart.
  3. Cece Olisa, aka Plus Size Princess: This girl puts such great spirit into her message, trying to help young women get healthy and create positive self-image. Her channel is a cool mix of dressing room confessionals, workout videos, and dating advice.
  4. America’s Test Kitchen: Everything ATK/Cook’s Illustrated does is just about perfect. Their combination of scientific accuracy and clever shortcuts makes their recipes flawless.
  5. Big Cat Rescue: Updates from an awesome lion and tiger refuge program in Florida.
  6. Cupcakes and Cashmere: Jumping off of her very successful blog, Emily Schuman posts a weekly video advice column handling lifestyle and career questions.
  7. BBC Radio 1: Britain’s biggest radio station spices up the usual entertainment fare with features like bands covering other top billboard hits and celeb interviews conducted lying on the floor, face-to-face, guest on top of interviewer.
  8. Mental Floss: A treasure trove of random trivia, delivered (often) by YouTube and young adult fiction darling John Green.
  9. Kayley Melissa: Hairstyle tutorials made very easy, a mix of elaborate red carpet looks decoded and braided looks for daily wear.
  10. The Goulet Pen Company: Last but not least, I love this channel because it goes to show that there is a captive audience for everything. Husband and wife Goulet team share advice with fountain pen enthusiasts in hour long Q and A sessions every week. The truth is, I don’t even use fountain pens, but these videos are so soothing they’re perfect for clearing the mind!


Image via The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

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