I feel like the time has arrived for me to embrace my addiction, fess up and tell someone that I have been watching the life of a family online for half a decade. A family that I do not know or will ever meet.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of ‘daily vlogging’, such a statement may sound like the beginnings of a George Orwell novel or an unavoidable restraining order case. However for Shay Butler and his family, it is perfectly normal.
The Butler’s have been uploading a video to YouTube every day for the past 5 years, broadcasting their close family moments to an international audience of over 1 million subscribers. The family consists of Shay and Collette, a young couple from Idaho, USA and their 5 children, all aged under 10. You get to meet their extended family who have also started to make videos following the success of the ‘Shaytards’ channel, all of whom have turned their hobbies into a career. Carlie – Shay’s sister – makes fitness and style videos, while his brother Casey makes films about hunting. Unlike most other reality programmes, it is rather refreshing to be watching likeable characters for once.
That is the difference however. The family aren’t characters – they are real people living their real lives and this authenticity is what attracts me to the series the most. As you keep watching, you feel as if you have become part of the family – you have experienced their struggles and been proud of their successes. On one day you can be at the birth of their children, travel with them on holiday or walk next to them down a red carpet. On the next, you could hear the children’s worries or follow Shay’s weight loss journey.
This mix of private intimate moments and spectacle are what keeps the family closer to their audience than any fictional television character ever could.
The Shaytards are better than a web series – there is a continual stream of new content whether it be the videos themselves, podcasts or twitter updates – you never miss out on anything. I admire their transparency and ability to share so much with their viewers, the family not only make videos to entertain, but have repeatedly said that they wish to inspire others in pursuing their ambitions. They certainly accomplish
I can’t recommend enough that you check out the Butler family on YouTube, partly so you can see that I am not insane, but also so you can experience the uniqueness that their self-documented reality brings. that.