iChannel was launched by Sunnyside Films in 2006, when youtube was in its infancy (and facebook, twitter, and the iPhone had yet to take over the world). The idea of the series was to take advantage of the comments section of video posts and create a series where viewers could interact with the characters and influence the story. Comments were used as text messages which characters received on their phones. The series received over 2.5 million views and ran for three years.
An anonymous young man wakes up one morning to discover that every moment of his life is suddenly being broadcast to the world. Though the audience never learns his name (he’s known only by his last initial “I.”) , we can tell right off the bat that this is an intensely private, overly anxious (and maybe even lonely) man; and having anyone (let alone thousands) involved in his personal life causes him deep stress and agitation. He tries to explain his surreal predicament to the prominent figures in his life (his brother, his boss, his next door neighbor, etc.), but he meets nothing but blank stares and disbelief. He tries to escape the gaze of his viewers, but quickly realizes it’s simply impossible. His audience is here to stay and there’s nothing he can do about it.
The plot thickens when the young man called “I.” opens his door to find a small PDA at his doorstep. After engaging the device, he begins to receive text messages from his unseen audience. Convince d that the device might one day point him in the direction of how he might escape this existential nightmare, he hangs on to it despite the barrage of constant comments. These comments range from advice on how to deal with his life’s quandaries and daily dilemmas, judgment on how he consistently closes himself off to the rest of the world, and even occasional flattery—there are those in the audience who find his neurotic behavior and panic attacks charming, despite his humbug attitude and constant reluctance to fully engage with his audience.
Left with little option, “I.” gradually begins to let his audience navigate him through his day-to-day trials and tribulations (including of course his here-to-fore inactive love life). Though only a few in his life ever discover his mysterious predicament, his associates do of course begin to notice his increasingly strange behavior. And his gradual transformation. The audience encourages him to open up and to cease worrying so much about the judgment of others, and slowly he begins to relax, and enjoy his life, and ultimately even grows to depend on the interaction with these anonymous others.