If you have spent anytime on YouTube, you know of Shane Dawson. This YouTuber has been on the platform since 2008 when he posted his first video in June. This channel was called ShaneDawsonTV which featured different sketches. These funny videos skyrocketed him to YouTube fame, earning him the title of being the third most subscribed channel in 2010. Since then, he has remained relevant on the platform which is a major feat. One of the great things about Shane’s channel is that he is always coming up with fresh ideas. He has multiple different channels, each for different video genres (although he only uses one now: click here). These genres include not only sketches, but vlogs, collaborations and music videos. Now Shane has found a new genre to explore: documentaries.
When I’m scrolling through YouTube, if I see a video that is longer than six minutes, I typically continue scrolling because I want fast, fresh content. Now because of YouTube’s algorithm, which favors longer videos with multiple ad breaks, many YouTubers are trying to extend their videos. Many people don’t want to sit through a long YouTube video but Shane has managed to crack the code. He is currently a YouTube pioneer for the documentary genre and has captured his audience. The first documentary series that he made was about Bunny Meyer aka grav3yardgirl. Her channel was “dying” and went from millions of views per video to only over 100,000 videos. She and Shane filmed together where he offered her some advice about her channel and she was open and vulnerable on camera. After that series was released, her monthly views had a sharp spike from 5.98 million to 20.28 million. Viewers responded well to Bunny’s emotional moments and to the video format. It was a three part series with each episode at least 30 minutes, mimicking a regular TV show.
Since grav3yardgirl, who wasn’t seen as controversial just quirky, he has focused on some of the most drama driven creators on social media. He broke down the chaos that was Tanacon. The series featured two different point of views pitted against each other on why it didn’t work as well as what Tana Mongeau was going to do to make it right. This series ended up winning a Streamy. After that he covered top-followed Myspace internet personality turned beauty guru YouTuber, Jeffree Star. The 5 part series showed Dawson being immersed in Jeffree’s out-of-this-world world as well as his business and more personal life. That series racked up a total of a whooping 101,488,466 as of Oct. 26 and is likely to still continue to get more views. After having such a successful series, Shane decided to cover yet again another controversial person, Jake Paul. Shane came under fire for even deciding to cover him and the series was highly anticipated. This was Shane’s longest series and even the series itself was controversial. In one of the earlier episodes, he sat down with a counselor to discuss whether Jake could be a psychopath without Jake meeting her at that point. After the video came out, the internet came after him for being over dramatic with his reactions and edits as well as attempting to have a counselor diagnose Jake without meeting him which Shane did apologize for it. From there, the series went on without any more bumps and spilled as much tea as everyone was expecting. The eight part series and had a huge following. Even the finale, which was an hour and 45 minutes, it still received over 18 million views showing the interest and the loyalty of his audience. Here are some of his viewers thoughts:
1. “When I first started watching the Jake Paul series I was annoyed that he was giving a trash person a platform. But after watching it, I did feel differently about Jake Paul. I think that shows how the media can only show one side of a person. I think he personalized controversial YouTubers to get people’s attentions.” – Savannah Hill
2. “My favorite series is the Jeffree Star one because it was really cool to see why Jeffree was so hated by a lot of people and to also see how misconstrued people’s perceptions of him were. Shane really took time to make sure there wasn’t any room for Jeffree not to be transparent. It was also very easy to binge watch because I wanted to know what happened next! Sometimes the music in the background [of the videos] can be a little much, but it definitely adds to the suspense! The only thing is it can take a serious moment and turn it corny.” – Alexandra Renaux
3. “I think Shane Dawson’s documentary videos have gained popularity because of our fascination with the private lives of celebrities, even internet celebrities. He gives us an inside look into not only how they live, but what they are like off-camera. I watch them because I’ve always liked Shane videos and been a supporter, but my curiosity peaks when I see other YouTube stars that I watch. My favorite was the Jeffree Star one because he is such a unique person with a very wild personality. So to see him talk personally about his life and success, is really interesting to me. I watch them with a friend who is also a huge fan, and we always curl up in bed with snacks and it’s fun to bond over our love of Shane’s videos.” – Vivian Johnson
4. “I watched the Jeffree Star documentary because I had been hearing a lot about him and I had no prior knowledge of him. I’m not really into makeup so learning about some stuff about the industry was eye-opening. I don’t enjoy Shane’s other videos though, just because I don’t care for any of the people. I also feel like Shane can be unnecessarily dramatic. I would watch again if he covered a standard celebrity like Taylor Swift.” – Tatum Ellington
Personally, I love all of his documentary series. Because Shane can be seen as a trusted creator, his viewers can watch knowing that he will ask all the questions they want with little to no bias and the YouTubers that collaborate with him know that he won’t distort them for views. I also love the fact that it is on YouTube because it is easy accessible and because the videos are formatted like a TV show, it is something easy to binge watch. I would personally love for him to focus on certain YouTube groups like Vlog Squad. If you have not yet already checked out his documentary series, I would seriously recommend it. I am looking forward to seeing who Shane covers next and if he listens to feedback about his edits.