The best TV series for mobile phones

Olya Tretyakova – about the best TV shows that can be watched on the subway and on the train. Because they are specially made for mobile.

I have always thought that a vertical series is one where each episode has its own complete story, the “vertical” itself. But in the last couple of years, it has become the name for TV series made for mobile phones. That is, those that are convenient to look not horizontally, on the screen of a laptop or TV, but in a smartphone.

This format was created by film producers who are chasing millennials (out of habit I wanted to call them teenagers, until I remembered: these are people who were born between 1981 and 1996). According to statistics, they watch TV 40% less often than five years ago. At the same time, 90% of them do not part with smartphones. How to make money by combining this knowledge? Create a series for your mobile phone!

What are the differences between such series, except for the format itself? The fact that the series should be short – no more than 10 minutes, but preferably 3-5. The filmmakers found this out by studying the content of users of the megapopular Snapchat application. Where, in addition to masks with dog ears, there are videos of musicians, bloggers and quite full-fledged multi-part stories that are filmed by the users themselves.

Today on Snapchat you can find TV shows for any unpretentious taste. There are black comedies (like Denton’s Death Date), sports dramas (look for Players), and detectives (Class of Lies). The only thing is that everything is in English. But everywhere there are subtitles, and the video sequence is made as clear as possible. You can watch everything for free.

Back this year, the streaming service Quibi, which stands for “quick bite”, appeared. The launch cost $ 1.75 billion, with giants such as The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. His trick is just short series. You can watch them both vertically and horizontally.

Do not think that the new format of the series is just the usual 40-60 minute series chopped into pieces. Of course, there are some, but in general the novelties are distinguished by a more dynamic storytelling (you must somehow keep the attention of people accustomed to scrolling social media feeds) and suitable “fast” genres: comedy, detective, horror. The budget is decent: on the same Quibi, a minute costs an average of $ 125,000, that is, each mini-series costs a million.

Here’s where to start your acquaintance with the serial world of the near future. (Wait a minute though, this future seems to be here 🙂

Repair / Flipped

  • Number of episodes: 12
  • Series length: 8 minutes.
  • Genre: comedy.
  • Directed by: Ryan Keyes, Ryan Keyes
  • Cast: Bruno Amato, Arturo Castro, Andy Garcia, Will Forte, Caitlin Olson, David Douglas, Iris Almario
  • Where to see: which

About what? Ian and Cricket dream of becoming the stars of the renovation reality show. The dream starts to come true when they find the treasure. But the money is not at all ownerless. Their owner is a drug dealer. It is impossible to return the found half a million dollars: Ian and Cricket have already spent everything. We have to repay the debt in a different way – by making repairs to the drug dealer. And, of course, designers have no room for error.

Why watch: this is a rare series of this format, aimed not at older students and young students, but at older people. Which is nice, because we also know how to use mobile phones 🙂


When the Streetlights Go On

  • Number of episodes: 11
  • Series length: 8-10 minutes.
  • Genre: detective.
  • Producer: Rebecca Thomas (Stranger Things)
  • Cast: Ben Ahlers, Julia Sara Stone, Sophie Thatcher
  • Where to see: which

About what? USA, summer-1995. A teenager finds the body of a murdered schoolgirl in the forest. Who is the killer?

Why watch: the description is not particularly exciting, is it? But you might be interested in the fact that the director is Rebecca Thomas (Stranger Things), who is pretty good at teenage retro.

The show is a trinket, but cute. It seems that the plot is easily predictable, but the twists and turns are suddenly quite unexpected. And as soon as you got involved, the series has already ended – of course, every time in the most interesting place.


50 States Of Fright

  • Number of episodes: 18.
  • Series length: 4-10 minutes
  • Creators: Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man”, “Evil Dead”), Ivan Raimi (“Drag Me to Hell”).
  • Cast: Rachel Brosnahan (“The Incredible Mrs. Maisel”), Asa Butterfield (“Sex Education”), Karen Allen
  • Where to see: which

About what? One beauty lost her hand, and her woodcutter husband gave her another – a golden one … One little girl came to see a local landmark – a four-meter skein of twine, but it turned out that he was stealing children … And other horror stories from urban folklore.

Why watch: a collection of urban legends gathered across America, beautifully filmed and played by awesome actors. It is creepy and exciting to watch. For such a format – just ideal stories: who needs horror for two hours, if all the most interesting can be told ten times faster?

All this reminded me a little of the old horror series Tales from the Crypt. If you, like me, went to watch them in video salons in the early 90s, you will definitely like the new product 🙂


Dead of Night

  • Number of episodes: 10
  • Series length: 4-5 minutes
  • Genre: horrors
  • Producer: Timur Bekmambetov
  • Directed by: Sean Higton, Andrew Higton
  • Cast: Kylie Tran, Courtney Bandeco
  • Where to see: Snap Originals.

About what? A teenage girl tries to get out of a city engulfed in a zombie apocalypse and takes pictures of what is happening on her smartphone.

Why watch: Timur Bekmambetov is a guru of the Screen Life genre. If you’ve watched Unfriend and Profile, produced by him, you know what I mean. If not, let me explain: the events of films of this genre take place as if on a computer screen, in real time, that is, you see the events in the same way as the main character sitting in front of the monitor. Or, in this case, moving around with a smartphone everywhere.

The heroine of “Night Dead” lives an ordinary life and does not part with the phone. Even when zombies attack her city, she does not stop filming what is happening. And we – look at the screen of her smartphone and worry and fear with her.


LifeVan / VanLife

  • Number of episodes: 8
  • Series length: 4-5 minutes
  • Genre: road movie, comedy
  • Producer: Scott McCabe, Tory Stanton (“Tomorrow Doesn’t Come”)
  • Cast: Rose O’Shea, Mike Castle.
  • Where to see: Snap Originals.

About what? A young couple decides to become travel bloggers. They buy a used van and go on a journey that they document every minute for a blog. And, of course, all kinds of adventures await them along the way.

Why watch: This is what the series, shot for the Snapchat and Tik Tok generation, looks like: fast-moving picture, constant jokes, brisk editing with division into several screens. Some will dazzle in the eyes, but if you get involved, you will surely want to delve into the Snap Originals video library. And it is extensive!



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