Horror, food and travel might not be three topics that people typically put together. Yet Watcher, a new and rising YouTube channel, has done this with style and humor. With several different kinds of series, it is hard for viewers to not find something that they will enjoy.
Familiar Faces on Watcher
Though Watcher is new, the faces we see on screen are not. Its creators — Steven Lim, Ryan Bergara and Shane Madej — are also involved in the viral BuzzFeed shows “BuzzFeed Unsolved” and “Worth It.” They have recently joined the list of high profile content creators that have left BuzzFeed. Like the others, they wanted more creative control and “actual ownership of the content [they] make.” However, unlike the others, they have elected to “maintain a good relationship with BuzzFeed,” having been hired as independent contractors to continue to entertain audiences with their viral shows.
The Content You Can Expect To See on Watcher
Their new channel, Watcher, plays to each of their strengths with Bergara hosting the horror content, Lim hosting food content and Madej hosting chaotic weirdness. Between the three of them, they have created 13 shows. Below are some of the fans’ (and my personal) favorite series.
This is one of the most popular shows on the channel, with each video garnering at least 1 million views. With Madej voicing and controlling the puppet stage, The Professor (one of the puppets) hosts the show and two guests compete for the title of History Master. True to form, Madej interjects “Puppet History” with hilarious mayhem. There are two gay oars that have relationship issues. Madej somehow sings a duet with himself. These 20 to 30-minute history videos are broken up by guests interjecting and having ridiculous conversations with each other. These videos are so entertaining that user ADHDerailed commented on Watcher’s “Life During The Black Death Pandemic” video: “I have ADHD and… I… sat through the whole thing… and laughed a lot… AND… LEARNED… whispers thank you.” Madej somehow ferrets out the weirdest and most interesting pieces of history. His video titles speak for themselves: “Stealing the World’s Most Expensive Necklace,” “Surviving The Titanic: History’s Luckiest Woman” and “The World’s Greatest/Rudest Samurai,” to name a few.
This is probably the most surprising show to become popular. The show format is simple: invite an expert in, rank the top 5 items in whatever field the expert is from and compare the expert’s skill level to Bergara and Madej’s. For example, they invite a Michelin Star Chef to rank the top 5 fast food chains. At first glance, it seems like it would be something that content creators fear — boring. Yet the heated debates, the petty roasts and the familiarity of the ranked items are giggle-inducing and relatable. This sentiment is shared by user LatinaTonyStark as well as the over 1,400 users who liked their post: “Shane saying ‘kachow’ after every number to annoy Ryan is the petty energy I need.”
Spooky campfire tales are just classic. Combined with the entertainment value found in watching drunk people, it is no wonder why this show is so popular. Hosted by fan-branded “ghost bois,” Bergara and Madej drink cocktails that are prepared by “drink maestro” Lim while reading and rating submitted stories. Their laughter at immature jokes and continual bungling of the English language only amplifies their already entertaining partnership. In these videos in particular, their personalities shine through, as user Joy G’s comment acknowledges, “The stories are terrible, but watching these guys get trashed and laugh at everything is gold.”
In one of the few shows that Lim hosts, he tries to create extravagant dishes for his friends despite being an amateur home cook. He makes $450 tacos, $300 mac ‘n cheese, and bizarre s’moysters. In this series, Lim goes all out — calling professional chefs for advice, making everything from scratch and even delving into recipe research. His hard work is appreciated by fans such as user Sarah Camargo whose comment, “The thing I like the most about this show is the effort Steven makes to come [up] with the dishes, talking to chefs [and] doing research to make it the best dish possible, even tho he doesn’t know much about cooking,” reached over 3,900 likes. This show is also where the bromance between Lim and his friends shines through. Comments like “Ok, but Steven talking about Shane is really frickin’ adorable” and “Honestly, it’s Steven really knowing his friends that makes this such an enjoyable series for me” run rampant in the episodes’ comment sections.
For fans of BuzzFeed Unsolved who love fear-induced adrenaline rushes, this is the show for you. Madej and Bergara “read horrific stories trying to figure out if they are experienced or imagined.” The rough charcoal drawings on the screen add to the chilling element of the stories, helping to cast the stories in darker shadows. Reminiscent of BuzzFeed Unsolved, the tension is broken up by the pair’s laughter as they let their incredulity peek through. Their flippant approach to the somewhat bloodcurdling tales makes the videos more palatable to the general audience.
Final Thoughts on Watcher and Looking Ahead
Though the shows presented on Watcher are varied and many, the common thread that links their videos together is their authenticity. The channel’s growing audience sees their reactions, failures and successes. In the video series where Bergara and Madej interact with each other, even the most infrequent viewer can see the chemistry that made their “BuzzFeed Unsolved” series so popular. Bergara is still that matter-of-fact yet superstitious person and Madej is still that chaotic yet grounded storyteller. While Lim does not have his “Worth It” co-host Andrew Ilnyckyj by his side, he is still that sweet and somewhat shy and awkward presenter.
Though Watcher has not grown as rapidly as other channels created by former BuzzFeed employees, like The Try Guys and Safiya Nygaard, I have no doubt that they will reach this level of deserved acclaim at some point in the near future. Hilarious, occasionally shiver-inducing and genuine, this channel truly has something for everyone. As user John Rapanut perfectly summarizes: “Ryan and Shane’s shows: Chaotic/Stressful. Lim’s shows: Wholesome/ Stressful. Together they make such a great channel, love em.”