Let's Talk About Those Werewolf Ads on TikTok: What the Heck is ReelShort?
You may have seen those ads on TikTok featuring short videos that seem a lot like werewolf fanfiction come to life. Well, we clicked and took a dive into the world of ReelShort to see exactly what it's all about.
If you're around on Fanfictok or Booktok, chances are you've encountered ads for ReelShort video shorts. The most popular ads are for the werewolf series My Forbidden Alpha. The acting is a bit rough and the dialogue is downright cringey, but the production values are decent. It's like fanfiction brought to life, and it makes you wonder if maybe the unique style of fan works and novice fiction just doesn't translate well to the audio-visual medium.
After seeing the ads enough times, we got curious. What is ReelShort? Are these stories worth watching? So I clicked the ad, downloaded the app, and set out to find out everything there is to know about ReelShort.
I soon figured out that ReelShort is an app (similar to 2020's ill-fated Quibi) for watching short form videos, most of which are dramas and romance. ReelShort leans in to the serial style of telling stories that has been a success on platforms like Wattpad and Inkitt, but in visual form. Each episode is a short clip, typically one minute long and consisting of a single scene (though they sometimes pad the runtime with future previews). There's usually something that happens in each episode to move the plot forward.
How it Works
There are two ways to unlock episodes. The first is by watching ads. Users can unlock up to 20 episodes per day by watching ads between each episode. Most of the ads are for mobile games and are as long or longer than the episodes themselves.
Those interested in unlocking content faster can buy coins for about $0.01 per coin, but that number can go lower if you buy more coins at a time. Coins can also be earned in the "Earn Rewards" tab by checking in, watching additional ads (up to 7 per day), or completing tasks like allowing them to track your activity outside the app or signing in via Facebook, Google, Apple, or TikTok. (Yeah, that definitely felt creepy to me.) So there are an additional 185 to 225 coins up for grabs daily, depending on how consistently you check in.
The cost of each episode varies based on the particular show and episode. From what I could tell, it seems like 40 to 60 coins was a pretty typical range. The app won't let you skip episodes, so you have to unlock them in order.
Are ReelShort Shows Worth Watching?
To give the app a fair try, I watched several episodes each of three shows: My Forbidden Alpha (the one from the ads), Fatal Temptation: Between Two Alphas (another werewolf romance that was currently heavily promoted in the app), and How My Boss Became My Hubby (an office & millionaire romance with less promotion).
My Forbidden Alpha wasn't actually as bad as the ad's previews led me to believe. Yes, the dialogue and acting were clumsy, but for the most part it worked enough to not distract too much from the plot. The actual production quality was pretty good and, for what I imagine was a very low-budget project, the special effects were decent. They definitely did the most they could with what they had to work with. The story was pretty typical for the genre with the expected clichés, which I think is what people want in their werewolf romance.
Since the app was currently promoting Fatal Temptation in their top promo spot, I decided to try it. It's also a werewolf romance, but I wanted to see how different it would be from My Forbidden Alpha. The show definitely had a different vibe and the acting was much better (aside from the male lead who just didn't sell the 'alpha' trope at all). The plot and dialogue of this one were weaker and leaned heavily on the clichés, so maybe they were relying on the stronger cast to make up for the script. The special effects again were impressive considering. I don't think anyone should go into these shows expecting high quality masterpieces, but they're also not as terrible as the TikToks make it seem.
For the third show, I decided to look for a different genre. The app had a section for the trope "Dating My Boss" and quite a lot of billionaire romance, so I picked one that seemed to fit both categories: How My Boss Became My Hubby. This one was a bit buried behind other more popular books, and I thought maybe it would be worthwhile to try as a less-promoted option. I actually think this one was the best of the three. The actors are quite good and the plot is compelling.
Most of the other shows were similar in quality and genre, with a bit of a soap-opera vibe. (There were a couple exceptions: My Wedding's Replacement Groom had notably bad dialogue and Son in Law's Revenge had very poor production value.)
Is It Worth Trying?
ReelShort is a bit of a mixed bag. The overall idea is really cool; I would definitely like to see more serial fiction turned into video shorts. While I don't think you get enough value out of the coins to make it worth paying for, I do think it's reasonable to watch the ads if you have some time to spare. The shows are fun and entertaining (albeit sometimes in a so-bad-it's-good way) and it could be an interesting app if it finds its footing.
I'd love to see them partner with Inkitt or another serial fiction app to produce popular stories. There's definitely room for something like this, especially if they can get some better actors on board and find that sweet spot when it comes to value for money.
Have you tried ReelShort? What did you watch? Let us know in the comments...