Many web series struggle to hook an audience because it's unclear what the characters want and why we should like them. Gigi Almost American, a joint production of L.A.-based comedy troupe the Lost Nomads, BBC Worldwide and My Damn Channel, soars to slapstick humor success because the answers to those questions are so clearly defined.
Gigi, played by Josh Gad (Broadway's The Book of Mormon, NBC sitcom 1600 Penn), is an inept foreigner who desperately wants to be an average American. Part Borat, part Mr. Bean, part Forrest Gump, Gigi ambles across America, cheerfully oblivious to the cultural cues of poker games and wreaking havoc at a blood-donation clinic. You like him because his heart is in the right place, even if his awkwardly gyrating appendages are not, and because he likes you. He really, really likes you.
The Nomads, composed of Gad, Ty Clancy, Ida Darvish, Tyler Moore and Kevin Larsen, began taking their sketches from stage to screen in 2005. When they got the opportunity to pitch digital concepts to the BBC, Gigi, a character Gad originated, was a hit. "Writing Gigi is very similar to writing sketch, but with a little bit more character arc, mild plotting and heart thrown in," says writer-actor Moore of how the troupe became masters of the short episodic format.
With the explosion of funded web series outlets on the net, the Nomads' short-form skills are in high demand. At Comic-Con it was announced that Internet icon Felicia Day's YouTube channel, Geek & Sundry, will be producing its next series: GamE.R., about an emergency room for video game characters. With Gigi Almost American's second season having just wrapped production, the world is Gigi's oyster. —Stephanie Carrie
The Tangled Web We Watch is our column on what's worth watching online. Watch season one of Gigi: Almost American at youtube.com/show/gigialmostamerican. Read Stephanie Carrie's full interview with the Lost Nomads on her blog, tangledwebwewatch.com.
Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes