If you haven’t seen season 1 of YouTube original series “The Avenue,” let me break it down to you like this: Mix a little of HBO’s “Girls” with MTV’s “The Hills” then sprinkle it all with the LGBT flare of YouTube vlogger Gregory Gorgeous, and presto, you’ve got “The Avenue.”
As a semi-scripted reality television, “The Avenue” isn’t just a YouTube knockoff of the demonic vehicle that gave Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt their 15 minutes. “The Avenue” is a new kind of drama for the 21st century. Airing on YouTube, “The Avenue” is one of the first drama series that have begun popping up amid the typically comedy-driven landscape of web television.
Tackling issues like drug abuse and abusive relationships, season 2 will take a deeper look into the emotional growth of the show’s supporting cast and leading protagonist Gregory Gorgeous. A leading name in beauty, fashion and vlogging, Gregory Gorgeous’ branded YouTube channel has developed a deeply personal fan base with over 44 million total views.
As season 2 of “The Avenue” prepares to launch on November 27, I caught up with Gregory Gorgeous to discuss looking for drama and the difference between exploitation and entertainment.
YouTube web shows seem to be primarily comedies. Why has “The Avenue” been successful even though it is marketed as a drama?
Gregory Gorgeous: I think it is just because of the honesty of the show. You said it was a really dramatic show, and other shows online are comedy-based. I like to think that whatever I put my name on is going to be light-hearted and funny. We do get really dramatic because the cameras were there for my Summer 2012, but I think there is a lot of balance. There is a lot of comedy as well.
It has never been made clear whether the show is actual reality television or scripted reality television like “The Hills” — can you shed some light on this?
When you are doing reality television, it is really hard to get 24-7 unless you have everyone living in a house or a camera crew at all times. Last season was a lot more staged than this season was just because we didn’t have that many cameras, and everyone was short for time. Season 2, we really wanted to make it authentic. I can say that the editing was skewed, and the audio voice-overs they would use things that weren’t set in the scene to make it more entertaining.
Do you look for dramatic situations, or do things more dramatically because cameras are always around?
It was crazy; we did season 1 two years ago. So I was not ready for this time around. In that aspect I’m not looking to create drama; I would say it is the opposite. I’m looking to calm things down because I know the cameras are there, because I know it will be blown out of proportion. I’m trying to let everything be easy. In the show, my ex-best friend Rachel, she kind of has a little drug time, and I’m trying to really tone it down. Everyone kept telling me “She needs help,” and I was like, “No, that’s too dramatic.” But you’ll see that on season 2.
Do you ever worry that your friend’s drug problem is being exploited just for the entertainment value of the show?
Sometimes I think that it is too much. I think that it is her call, and if she really didn’t want it on the show she could say “I don’t want this on the show.” But she never stepped up and said she didn’t want it. In another aspect, I was assaulted and the cameras were there; we were out at a club, and I told them to leave me alone but they still followed me, and they ended up rescuing me. I was going to say I didn’t want that on the show but they had footage of it, and I was talked into it and I’m glad it is on the show now.
Season 2 will deal with the issue of you being assaulted. Why incorporate that into the show?
I think that would be selfish of me to just throw it under the rug and be like, “I don’t want to talk about this because it is embarrassing for me” when I deal with these types of things everyday on my YouTube channel. I get so much fan mail and so many comments saying, “I get bullied” or “I get beat up today,” for me to just brush that under the rug would be really selfish in my opinion.
Tell us what season 2 of “The Avenue” will be like in one sentence.
Season 2 is buck wild crazy. More outrageous than anything you’ve ever seen. I just don’t want people — this is more than one sentence sorry — I just don’t want people to put it in the same category as season 1. They’ll get way more attached to the characters; we all dig really deep this season.