|Also known as||LG15|
|Created by||Miles Beckett|
|Directed by||Marcello Daciano|
|Starring||Jessica Lee Rose|
|Voices of||Kevin Schlanser|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||547|
|Executive producers||Amanda Goodfried|
|Production locations||Marin County, California|
|Original release||June 16, 2006 –|
August 1, 2008
|Followed by||LG15: The Resistance|
LG15: The Last
lonelygirl15 is a web series that was released on YouTube June 16, 2006 to August 1, 2008. Initially presented as an authentic video diary, it gained wide media attention in September 2006 when the show was revealed to be fictional. The plot began with the mundane life of a teenage girl; the narrative became increasingly bizarre, portraying her dealings with secret occult practices within her family, including the mysterious disappearance of her parents, and a "secret" ceremony prescribed by leaders of the cult. The series was created by Mesh Flinders, a screenwriter and filmmaker from Marin County, California; Miles Beckett, a surgical residency dropout turned filmmaker; and Greg Goodfried, a former attorney with Mitchell, Silberberg and Knupp, LLP.
Launched just 16 months after the YouTube video platform went online, lonelygirl15 focuses on the life of a teenage girl named Bree – played by 19-year-old New Zealand actress Jessica Rose – whose YouTube username is the eponymous "lonelygirl15". After the fictional status of the show was revealed in September 2006, it gradually evolved into a multi-character series including both character videoblogs and action sequences, with a complex story universe involving "trait positive girls" who are sought by an evil organization called "The Order".
The three creators of lonelygirl15 were Mesh Flinders, a screenwriter and filmmaker from Marin County, California, Miles Beckett, a surgical residency dropout turned filmmaker, and Greg Goodfried, a former attorney with Mitchell, Silberberg and Knupp, LLP.
The series was developed under the working title The Children of Anchor Cove. New videos appeared, eventually at the rate of four to five clips a week, first on YouTube and lg15.com, and later on MySpace. As of July 2008, the series had more than 110 million combined views. As of March 2021, the series had more than 304 million views.
Along with Amanda Goodfried, an attorney who worked with Creative Arts Agency (CAA), the creators of lonelygirl15 created LG15 Studios to produce original interactive content online. LG15 Studios became EQAL in April 2008, with receipt of $5 million in venture capital to expand their offerings.
Since 2009, EQAL has aired two more spinoff series which are produced by contest winners, including LG15: The Last, which started airing in January 2009, and LG15: Outbreak, which began in January 2010.
On June 16, 2016, the tenth anniversary of the first video on the account, a new video on the account with Jessica Lee Rose returning as Bree Avery was uploaded, with a message that the series was restarting. This revival appears to have been aborted, as no further videos (which were posted on Danielbeast's channel) have appeared since late 2016.
Cast and characters
- Jessica Lee Rose as Bree Avery (a.k.a. lonelygirl15), a bubbly teenage girl whose trait positive blood makes her the target of a dangerous cult called the Order. She gained a large following on YouTube due to her quirky video blogs.
- Yousef Abu-Taleb as Daniel Barlow (a.k.a. Danielbeast), Bree's best friend, who only wishes to protect her, but is often distracted by romantic engagements. He can often jump to conclusions, and battles with an alcohol addiction along with his parents.
- Jackson Davis as Jonas Wharton (a.k.a. jonastko), a boy who meets Bree online and discovers that his family has more ties to the Order than he realizes. He can be too willing to trust others, which often leads the TAAG (Teen Angst Adventure Group) into unfortunate situations.
- Alexandra Dreyfus as Sarah Genatiempo (a.k.a. theskyisempty99), a misunderstood 19-year-old who develops a crush on Daniel and travels with TAAG. While she struggles to figure out what to do with her life, she harbors a dark and dangerous secret.
- Becki Kregoski as Taylor Genatiempo (a.k.a. soccerstar4ever), Sarah's younger sister who has impressive computer hacking skills. A passionate soccer player, she has more social skills than the rest of her family and is often upset by their actions.
- Maxwell Glick as Spencer Gilman (a.k.a. LAlabrat), an employee at Neutrogena with connections to the Order's science division. Chosen as a good role model for Bree, he sets out to help engineer a Trait Negative Serum.
- Katherine Pawlak as Emma Wharton, Jonas's trait positive younger sister. She grows up significantly during her battle for her life against the Order, and goes out of her way to try to protect her friends.
- Melanie Merkosky as Jennie, a former Lullaby Project employee who becomes friends with Sarah. She begins a romantic affair with Jonas and gives the TAAG an insight on how the Order's structure works.
- Crystal Young as Gina Hart, Bree's trait positive older sister who was taken from her at birth and used as a lab rat most of her life. She is quiet and reserved, and feels more comfortable with art supplies than with other people.
- Raegan Payne as Sonja, A member of the Hymn of One who tried to recruit Bree and eventually left the Hymn after she was badly beaten. One of the last videos in the Lonelygirl15 series suggested that Sonja had returned to the Hymn of One.
Before the vlog was revealed as fake, the title character dealt with mundane teenage problems such as being grounded; lonelygirl15 posted video replies to, and dropped the names of popular YouTubers. To further the initial illusion that Bree was a real girl, a MySpace page was set up for her and she seemingly began corresponding with many of her fans.
Later, the show moved to a bizarre narrative that portrayed her dealings with secret occult practices within her family, and included the mysterious disappearance of her parents after she refused to attend a "secret" ceremony prescribed by the leaders of the family's cult.
At first discussion regarding why they thought lonelygirl15 might be a fake went on in her video comments. In early August 2006, a fan began a discussion at the previously stagnant www.lonelygirl15.com message boards and raised an investigation into who or what was behind lonelygirl15. Soon the message board became full of discussion about even the tiniest details in each of her videos, everything from the quality of the lighting to the flora seen in her outdoor videos. Fans used the forum to collect, organize and share their findings, and pointed to small inconsistencies within the videos as evidence that the story might not be genuine, wondering if Bree's posts were part of a teaser campaign for a television show or an upcoming movie (similar to the viral marketing used to promote The Blair Witch Project). Others thought that the blog might be part of an alternate reality game.
Los Angeles Times reporter Richard Rushfield was the first to provide proof of a hoax, when he wrote of Shaina Wedmedyk, Chris Patterson, and an anonymous blogger law student, who set up a sting on MySpace to reveal that the Creative Artists Agency was behind the videos. Eventually it was revealed that 16-year-old "Bree" was played by 19-year-old actress Jessica Rose. Media sources seized upon the story, covering both the search process and the eventual "outing" as a fictional series.
New York Times reporter Virginia Heffernan expanded on the series of revelations on September 12 by publishing an article which confirmed Jessica Rose's identity, and revealed the identities of her "co-conspirators", Ramesh Flinders, a screenwriter and filmmaker from Marin County, California, and Miles Beckett, a doctor-turned-filmmaker. Software engineer Grant Steinfeld was also involved in this project, as a photographer. Amanda Solomon Goodfried assisted in their efforts to hide their identities as well as posed as "Bree"'s online alter-ego. Goodfried's father-in-law, Kenneth Goodfried, handled various legal matters. The personnel involved worked under a non-disclosure agreement, according to Grant Steinfeld. Steinfeld has verified most of this information to the Times, and provided photographs he took of Rose on set as proof. Also, on September 12, the three main creators gave an interview to the Los Angeles Times revealing the third major partner as Greg Goodfried.
After the fictional nature of lonelygirl15 was revealed, the storyline continued to develop via new videos posted to both YouTube and Revver. However, after YouTube partnered with MySpace, videos stopped being posted on lonelygirl15's Revver account, and only became viewable via YouTube and MySpaceTV.
After the discovery of the hoax
Jessica Rose participated in a United Nations campaign in 2006, to fight poverty through an online anti-poverty video. Rose portrayed the lonelygirl15 character as she sat by herself in her bedroom talking to the camera. The subject matter in the video focused on poverty relief, which broke from the regular subject matter of the show. The video was posted on an alternate account, separate from the main channel.
On November 20, 2006, lonelygirl15.com announced that the spin-off OpAphid was the official alternate reality game of lonelygirl15. OpAphid began in late September with what many speculated was a well-produced fan effort, and this announcement merged its characters OpAphid, Tachyon, and 10033/Brother, into the series storyline and continuity. In early February 2007, it was revealed that Glenn Rubenstein was the original puppetmaster behind the OpAphid alternate reality game and also the creator of its characters, OpAphid, Tachyon, and Brother. Due to internal issues between the Creators and Glenn, OpAphid was no longer the official ARG.
A 2006 episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent was based on the lonelygirl15 phenomenon. The episode "Weeping Willow" featured a blogger named weepingwillow17, played by Michelle Trachtenberg. Willow and her boyfriend were kidnapped by Men in Black who demanded her fans donate money to a website to save their lives. The investigators did not know if Willow was real or fake. Various other video bloggers were also seen decrying weepingwillow as a fake, just like many did on YouTube. The site on the episode was named YouLenz.
Awards and recognition
In the "Best Series" category of the inaugural YouTube Video awards in March 2007, the lonelygirl15 series finished fourth. The New York Times attributed Lonelygirl's finish to the YouTube community's ill will towards the series.
On August 3, 2007, Season One of lonelygirl15 celebrated its finale with an exclusive on MySpaceTV known as "12 in 12" where 12 videos were uploaded over the course of 12 hours from 8 am PST to 7 pm PST, culminating in the highest one-day viewership ever for the series. A "summary" video from the first season was offered as a part of the event, and it logged in over a million views on its own.
- In the last episode of the Season One finale, Bree's character is killed off by the order during the ceremony in the season finale and her trait positive blood was transfused into one of the order's elders. The reason for her character's death was attributed to Rose not renewing her contract for Season Two.
lonelygirl15 was the first Internet series to introduce product integration when the episode "Truckstop Reunion" featured the characters eating and displaying Hershey's Icebreaker's Sours Gum.
In another example of a product integration first, lonelygirl15 landed on the front page of Variety for the integration of a character from Neutrogena in the storyline over the period of more than two months. Dr. Spencer Gilman became such a popular character that Neutrogena made him "Employee of the Month" and gave him his own e-mail account on the company's corporate website.
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