Fucked! In SPACE! Courtesy Ryan Wolff

The start of a new year comes with a lot of opportunities. You may have resolutions to change your life in big or small ways: maybe you’ll do “dry January” or cut meat out of your diet, or you may just be trying to make it through another year. If you’re anything like me, the end of the year can be overwhelming when it comes to film and entertainment—it can feel like running through an avalanche of screeners, potentially risky movie theater trips, and streaming services galore just to catch up on every little thing you may have missed that year. But the small break of new releases at the start of the new year allows for a much less stressful, and sometimes even more enjoyable, media binge: a crop of Chicago-made web series that can be viewed from the comfort and safety of your home. 

Self Ctrl

This surrealist queer web series is created by, starring, and based loosely on the life of Chicago photographer Elias Rios. The series chronicles the chaotic 29th birthday of a newly-out Nicky (Rios) as he tries to get his life together and have a good, queer time doing it. Over the course of seven episodes, Self Ctrl tackles the idiosyncrasies of coming out later in life—the pressure of “catching up” or making up for “lost time”—while juggling work, friendship, and ADHD. Self Ctrl is very Chicago, split between DIY spaces like The Shithole and The Aux that give it a bountifully colorful aesthetic, and featuring cast and crew from the local improv scene. The show features a strong ensemble cast of characters that truly make it feel like a queer sitcom for the next generation: delightfully fantastical, yet still earnest at its fluorescent core. 
Watch on YouTube.

How to L0ve

One of the latest series to come out from Chicago-based production house OTV follows a group of teenagers working at their local tennis court. While working their final tournament, the three protagonists are all vying for the coveted spot as the “ball person” at the U.S. Open, juggling injuries and competition with typical teenager problems of dating and keeping friendships intact. In addition to its comedic rom-com sensibilities, How to L0ve puts young queer people of color at the forefront of tennis—a sport often represented and depicted by white men in spite of its larger history. The series is a refreshing and heartwarming take on a spot that can so often feel antiquated, and shows immense promise ​for its young creative team.
Watch on OTV.

Fucked! In SPACE!

Matt Weber and Ryan Wolff first had the idea for this charming sci-fi comedy in 2007—when the world was a much different place in a myriad of ways. But over the decade-plus that this project was first imagined, scripted, and produced—largely from a loft in Pilsen—the series has finally come to an epic 44-minute conclusion. Fucked! In SPACE! follows the escapades of a celebrity scientist and billionaire, Doctor Scuba, and his innovative rocketship that is fueled by . . . a sex drive. The series is full of low-budget sensibilities, like its cardboard set pieces, but it’s ultimately grounded by sharp writing and editing, along with a dynamic cast. But what’s most remarkable is how the show’s initial conceit—and how it evolves—is only more prescient in the era of tech billionaires going on space joyrides in phallic spacecrafts.
Watch on YouTube.