Existentialism, the Syrian Crisis, and volatility of the stock market—those are some of the topics tackled in the debut of Reddit's new web series, which goes out of its way to show that the people behind a site that revels in memes like Socially Awkward Penguin and Actual Advice Mallard, can be pretty smart when they want to be. The web series (below) is actually a riff of the site's "explainlikeimfive" subreddit:
In an attempt to explain what a subreddit is to people like they're five—think of Reddit as a department store that sells several different things. Each subreddit is like it's own corner of a each floor of that department store, which is why you'll find stuff like a subreddit entitled "forearmporn" with photos and selfies of some good-looking forearms if you look hard enough. "Explain it to me ..." would sort of be found somewhere in between science, common sense, and news—and users take big ideas and break it down in the simplest way possible—something that newspapers and even Wikipedia don't do enough of. For example, one of their latest posts is explaining, why some <strike>freaks</strike> people are double-jointed. It's sort of a cute counter to a site that gets its fair share of darker stories, i.e. sexism, underage creepers.
Reddit's general manager, Erik Martin, explained to The Hollywood Reporter, "the series, which is funded by YouTube, marks an experiment to encourage the site's users to create web video rather than a larger foray by the company to get into original web programming." And it shows that there's an interest from both companies and the users who fuel these subreddits into something ... or anything. Just this past August, one user managed to parlay his horror stories submitted to the "nosleep" subreddit into a full-blown novel, and in January, was later approached by a Hollywood producer.
So far the series is only slated for the three episodes we mentioned. "We’re really curious what happens organically," Martin told THR. Whether or not this means we get three-minute videos on hunky forearms remains to be seen.