@SummerBreak is a new web series about a group of wealthy LA kids living it up during their last summer before college. Ditching the traditional length of reality television episodes, @SummerBreak releases two to three minute clips several times a week on YouTube, with 15 minute summary episode on the weekend.
At first, @SummerBreak seemed promising; releasing the web series through social media is innovative and the trailers promised to fill the void that Laguna Beach left behind. Unfortunately, following the show on all of its social media platforms proved to be unexpectedly tedious. The problem is that there are 27 accounts total; the show has its own official accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, and Youtube while the nine cast members have individual accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Vine. Although many television shows and web series have accounts on various social media platforms, @SummerBreak is the first web series to advertise itself as a show where following them on a social media platform is required to get the entire experience. 27 accounts is a lot to keep track of.
One problem with the young cast member’s use of social media is that when they do tweet something interesting related to the show, it is always through “subtweets.” “Subtweets” are subliminal tweets that refer to a particular person without mentioning them by name.
But in order to have seen this fiery interaction, you would’ve had to be following both cast members and put the story together on your own.
There’s not much more drama on the YouTube channel, either. Because the show is made in real time, the editors are in a hurry and have no story-line to follow. One episode featured the female cast members eating lunch and discussing a plant that was hanging on the wall of the outdoor restaurant. After 15 episodes, we know how the cast members feel about random things like how to properly eat chicken, but are ultimately left knowing very little about the cast members relationships with one another.
There are, however, cast members who’s interesting personalities shine through despite the lack of plot. For example, there is the slight and dorky CBASS who manages to get the number of a much older woman with his quick wit. See the video below:
It would be more enjoyable to see these young, fun characters in a show that isn’t realtime. With the current format, we are not able to learn the layers of their personality. Another problem with the episodes being released in real time is that the episodes end up being quite short. People watch reality television in order to relax, and two minute clips just doesn’t cut it.
What can ultimately be learned from @Summerbreak is that despite everyone’s complaints about heavy-handed editing in reality television, the editing is what makes reality television a fun escape from the mundaneness of our everyday lives.