Sunday, April 24, 2016

If you only watch one YouTube channel, make it Just Between Us

I think that I've outgrown YouTube.  Just a few years ago, I was an avid visitor of the site -- I was subscribed to like 50 different channels, all of which I watched regularly.  But between having a job, watching TV/movies, listening to music, and writing blog posts that nobody reads, I just don't have time to watch somebody vlog about a bath bomb.  There are still about five channels whose content I'll watch whenever they upload a new video, but it had been years since I felt truly excited about YouTube.  At the ripe age of 24, I inexplicably felt too old for something.

Who knew that all I needed was Just Between Us, a comedy series from writing partners/best friends Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin, to fill me with life?  Somehow, I had never watched a single video of theirs and had only even vaguely knew about the channel until a few weeks ago when Hank and John Green mentioned that they were filming an episode of the show.  That's what finally made me think "Hmm, I know of Gaby Dunn from around the Internet.  Maybe I should check this channel out."  So I watched one video.  And then I watched a few more.  I just couldn't stop watching them, they were too delightful.  In the span of a couple of weeks, I had watched every single episode.

The format of the show is simple: every week they read a relationship/sex/life question submitted by a viewer and attempt to give that person advice, which is only sometimes helpful but always hilarious.  Each episode is loosely scripted, with alot of room left for improvisation.  Within that structure Gaby and Allison play exaggerated versions of their actual selves -- the former's character is a carefree, aggressive feminist and the latter is a neurotic, Type A personality.  When the show first started in 2014, Allison was the straight man to Gaby's antics, but their characters have since evolved to the point where they're both pretty wacky, Allison maybe even more so than Gaby.  Judging from the comments on their videos, people often have trouble wrapping their heads around the fact that JBU is scripted and the women are playing characters.  In a way that's understandable, because the show is so fun that you almost want it to be how they really are.

Plus, the show is at its best when it allows a little bit of reality to come in.  In past videos, Gaby has discussed her polyamory and bisexuality, even sharing the story of how she came out when she was younger.  Even more refreshing is Allison's openness about her lifelong struggle with OCD and other mental health issues.  There's still a stigma that society has against mental illness and it's really inspiring, heroic even, to see Allison's ability to take it seriously while also spinning comedy out of it.  In a weird way, watching her has helped me understand and be less ashamed of my own battle with mental illness.

You can pick whether Gaby or Allison is your favorite, but doing so would be against the point of the show.  Really, Just Between Us is about a beautiful friendship, about two people who form one wonderful comedy powerhouse.  (It's a testament to Gaby and Allison's chemistry that seemingly half of the audience ships them.  Granted, the internet will ship anything, but there's something about JBU that really taps into that impulse).  Watching it will give you that same feeling of watching something like Broad City, where the warmth is just so infectious.  Honestly, I can't think of anything that makes me as happy as this channel does.  There are episodes that I have watched multiple times, and I never rewatch YouTube videos.

Last year, the duo began releasing sketches on Thursdays to go along with their regular Monday advice videos.  These shorts already started out polished, but they keep getting better and better.  Judging from YouTube views, fans seem to favor the sketches too.  I prefer the more candid feel of the advice videos, but really it's a matter of personal preference, since both formats are great displays of Gaby and Allison's talent as writers and performers.

Which makes it such a bummer that the show apparently isn't very financially successful, as Gaby described in her terrific article about the grim economics of YouTube.  In a fair world, Just Between Us would be making five times more money than whatever it's making right now.  Hopefully their Patreon (which I support them on) will get more patrons over time, because this is the best thing on YouTube.

I've compiled a list of some of my favorite Just Between Us videos as a primer for any newcomers.  All 15 of them are advice videos because I love those so much that I couldn't fit any sketches in.  But try some of those out too; you can't go wrong.  Plus, these videos are only about three minutes long, so watching this whole list will take you the same amount of time as watching an episode of TV.

Episodes to get you started:
1. How Important Is Sex?
2. What If Someone Only Wants You For Your Body?
3. Are You A Gaby Or An Allison? (ft. John and Hank Green)
4. What Is Consent?
5. Allison's #dearme Story
6. Why Is Allison Bad At Dating? (Dating With Mental Illness)
7. What Was Your Worst Breakup?
8. Why Is Gaby Prettier Than Allison?
9. Is Anything Real?
10. Do Labels Matter?
11. Can You Date Your BFFs Crush?
12. Which Ex Do You Hate The Most?
13. What If Your Crush Is Taken?
14. How Do I Accept My Small Boobs?
15. Can You Be With One Person Forever?


  1. I watched a few of these, it's pretty entertaining.

    Gaby is overly self-confident and Allison is overly self-deprecating in an amusing way.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, they're so delightful. I feel like I relate to Allison way too much lol