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Best Original Shows on YouTube

Sci-fi thriller H+ is one of the many treats on YouTube.

Sci-fi thriller H+ is one of the many treats on YouTube.

There's no denying that YouTube is an ideal resource for researching video content of every sort. Would you like to learn how to play the drums? Someone can help. Are you interested in watching a kitten jump in and out of a box? You are in luck.

But YouTube's sheer volume of content has its downside. Where do you even begin when you're looking for something new to watch on the site? There are some pretty exceptional, entertaining and unique original free Web series available to stream if you know what you're looking for. But fair warning: You'll encounter a lot of profanity along the way.

Here are 10 Web series worth watching on YouTube (and possibly an unrelated video ad).

1. Action Figure Therapy

Action Figure Therapy is a stop-motion show that was created in 2011 by comedian Dan Bialek. Anyone who remembers and enjoyed Action League Now! from Nickelodeon's variety show KaBlam needs to watch it. They will become immediately obsessed. Each video is between 1 and 6 minutes long and features various old-school action figures in, you guessed it, talk therapy. They discuss their problems at work and at home, with each character voiced by a different comedian. Your enjoyment of the show will grow with each episode, as it relies heavily on call-back jokes. If you aren't laughing by the first episode, you'll be laughing by the third, and crying with laughter by the fifth.However, if you're not comfortable with F-bombs and other profanity, this may not be for you — because it has a lot.

 

2. The Actress

If you found Ricky Gervais' Extras too awkward to watch without squirming, The Actress might be more than you can handle. But, if you like your shows dry, dark and humorous, you'll be missing out if you don't give this one a shot. Written and acted by newcomer Anne Carr, the series chronicles the misadventures of a struggling actress in New York City. It alternates between being relatable to anyone who has ever worked hard to make it, and being painfully funny. When the show is at its best, it's both: Carr sobbing as she orders a very specific drink at Starbucks is a prime example. (Once the creators learn how to focus a video camera, it gets even better.) Seasons 1, 2 and 3 are available on the Barnacle Channel on YouTube.

 

3. Blue

This Web series, now in its third season, was created by Rodrigo Garcia, the creator of the HBO series In Treatment. While this show does have therapy in it, that's not what it's all about. Julia Stiles stars as Blue, a single mother who works as an escort, something she keeps hidden from her son. The acting on the show is stunning, the production is tight, and watching Blue struggle to balance her personal life with her work life is totally gripping. It's available now to watch on the WIGS channel on YouTube.

4. H+: The Digital Series

From producer Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects), this futuristic drama is completely binge-worthy. In the world of H+, people connect to the Internet through a small chip implanted inside of them, a bit like in the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report. When a deadly virus starts wiping out people with the implant, the inventor of the product, spurned by the people who formerly employed him, takes it upon himself to fix the implants and save the world. Along the way he unwraps a major conspiracy. Caitriona Balfe (Outlander) and Alexis Denisof (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) star. The first season is available now on YouTube, with the second season currently in production.

5. I Hate Being Single

I Hate Being Single follows Rob, a decently dumped 20-something hipster (though he refuses to accept this label) living in Brooklyn. He may be single, but he is far from ready to mingle. The series intertwines Rob's ruminations about the city where he lives, the lives of his friends and his own inability to meet "the one" in a simple, earnest way that makes it compulsively watchable. This isn't your average sitcom: Rob is insanely likeable, and from minute one you'll be rooting for him. 

6. Kicking Dan Out

Everybody has had at least one terrible roommate. However awful that person might be, Dan is worse. Produced by Damn Channel and available on its YouTube channel, these are the quick adventures of the world's worst roommate as written and acted by Dan St. Germain. In the pilot, Dan's roommates tell him it's time for him to go. He hasn't paid the rent in months and his cat has been dead for three weeks. From there on, Dan tries in each installment to get jobs (such as door-to-door Mormon) and make connections (like staying for three nights in the bed of a woman with whom he had a one-night stand). Dan is gross, rude, clueless and totally hilarious.

7. Neil's Puppet Dreams

The Nerdist. Neil Patrick Harris. The Jim Henson Company. These are the brilliant brains responsible for Neil's Puppet Dreams. NPH stars as an alternate version of himself alongside his friends and family. The premise is simple: When Neil falls asleep, he dreams in puppet. While the show is created with the help of the Henson Company, don't expect everything to be happiness and light. In one episode, farm animals serenade Neil as he plummets to his death. The episodes are available on The Nerdist Channel on YouTube.

8. Sugarboy

Sugarboy is a high-octane, bizarre treat from Above Average productions. The eponymous "Sugarboy" — a kid who has ingested far too much sugar — narrates the episodes. He then goes on to tell fast-paced, totally absurd stories about various superheroes he's invented. Look out for celebrity cameos: Ilana Glazer from Comedy Central's Broad City recently starred as Kung Fu mom. Don't let the set-up fool you: This is not for kids. There's cursing, comic violence and inappropriateness galore. In a hurry? No problem; the episodes are always less than 5 minutes long. 

9. Video Game High School

If you already love shows like Community, this one is for you. The show is set in the not-so-distant future, and follows a gamer named Brian who is recruited to attend Video Game High School after defeating a reigning champion and video game-playing celebrity on live television. The show is quirky and fun. The concept is strong, and it doesn't seem that unlikely. After all, some schools offer scholarships to gamers now. The show is a great blend of earnest and absurdly surreal, with the cast frequently journeying inside the games they are playing. Seasons 1 and 2 are available now, and Season 3 begins Oct. 13 on YouTube.

10. Waco Valley

The series follows a dinosaur news anchor (yep, that's right) as he tries to make it big on local television. Available on the Above Average channel on YouTube, it's written by Ben Warheit, who also writes for Seth Meyers on Late Night.This Web series has become so popular that Comedy Central has tapped Above Average to write a pilot for television. These 2- to 4-minute animated nuggets will appeal to anyone with a love for the Lorne Michaels TV Funhouse segments on Saturday Night Live.

Follow Rebecca Jane Stokes @beeswrite and on Google+ at RebeccaStokes83. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.