lonelygirl15 focuses on the life of a teenage girl named Bree, whose YouTube username is the eponymous "lonelygirl15". However, the show did not initially reveal its fictional nature to its audience. After the fictional status of the show was revealed in September 2006, it gradually evolved into a multi-character series including both character videoblogs and action sequences, with a complex story universe involving "trait positive girls" who are sought by an evil organization called "The Order".
lonelygirl15 first came to international attention ostensibly as a "real" video blogger who had achieved massive popularity on YouTube. The show was eventually proved as a hoax by skeptical viewers who identified the actress playing Bree as 19-year-old American-New Zealand actress Jessica Rose.
The three creators of lonelygirl15 were Mesh Flinders, a screenwriter and filmmaker from Marin County, California, Miles Beckett, a surgical residency dropout turned filmmaker, and Greg Goodfried, a former attorney with Mitchell, Silberberg and Knupp, LLP.
The series began on June 16, 2006, and was slated to run through August 1, 2008. New videos appeared, eventually at a clip of four to five a week, first on YouTube and lg15.com, and later on MySpace. As of July 2008, the series had more than 110 million combined views.
lonelygirl15 has generated a number of spin-off shows. Its first, the British-based KateModern, ran from July 2007 through June 2008 on Bebo, and took place in the same fictional universe.
Along with Amanda Goodfried, an attorney who worked with Creative Arts Agency (CAA), the creators of lonelygirl15 created LG15 Studios to produce original interactive content online. LG15 Studios became EQAL in April 2008, with receipt of $5 million in venture capital to expand their offerings.
The lonelygirl15 finale took place on August 1, 2008, and included a teaser for EQAL's next spinoff, LG15: The Resistance, which ran through December 2008.
Since 2009, EQAL has aired two more spinoff series which are produced by contest winners, including LG15: The Last, which started airing in January 2009, and LG15: Outbreak, which began in January 2010.
On June 16, 2016, the tenth anniversary of the first video on the account, a new video on the account with Jessica Lee Rose returning as Bree Avery was uploaded, with a message that the series was restarting. Jessica Lee Rose as Bree Avery (a.k.a. lonelygirl15), a bubbly teenage girl whose trait positive blood makes her the target of a dangerous cult called the Order. She gained a large following on YouTube due to her quirky video blogs.
Yousef Abu-Taleb as Daniel Barlow (a.k.a. Danielbeast), Bree's best friend, who only wishes to protect her, but is often distracted by romantic engagements. He can often jump to conclusions, and battles with an alcohol addiction along with his parents.
Jackson Davis as Jonas Wharton (a.k.a. jonastko), a boy who meets Bree online and discovers that his family has more ties to the Order than he realizes. He can be too willing to trust others, which often leads the TAAG (Teen Angst Adventure Group) into unfortunate situations.
Alexandra Dreyfus as Sarah Genatiempo (a.k.a. theskyisempty99), a misunderstood 19-year-old who develops a crush on Daniel and travels with TAAG. While she struggles to figure out what to do with her life, she harbors a dark and dangerous secret.
Becki Kregoski as Taylor Genatiempo (a.k.a. soccerstar4ever), Sarah's younger sister who has impressive computer hacking skills. A passionate soccer player, she has more social skills than the rest of her family and is often upset by their actions.
Maxwell Glick as Spencer Gilman (a.k.a. LAlabrat), an employee at Neutrogena with connections to the Order's science division. Chosen as a good role model for Bree, he sets out to help engineer a Trait Negative Serum.
Katherine Pawlak as Emma Wharton, Jonas's trait positive younger sister. She grows up significantly during her battle for her life against the Order, and goes out of her way to try to protect her friends.
Melanie Merkosky as Jennie, a former Lullaby Project employee who becomes friends with Sarah. She begins a romantic affair with Jonas and gives the TAAG an insight on how the Order's structure works.
Crystal Young as Gina Hart, Bree's trait positive older sister who was taken from her at birth and used as a lab rat most of her life. She is quiet and reserved, and feels more comfortable with art supplies than with other people.
Raegan Payne as Sonja, A member of the Hymn of One who tried to recruit Bree and eventually left the Hymn after she was badly beaten. One of the last videos in the Lonelygirl15 series suggested that Sonja had returned to the Hymn of One.
lonelygirl15 debuted on YouTube posing as a real 16-year-old video blogger with the eponymous username. At first, the videos covered normal, everyday subject matter, as the title character dealt with typical teenage angst, but quickly morphed into a bizarre narrative that portrayed her dealings with secret occult practices within her family and included the mysterious disappearance of her parents after she refused to attend a "secret" ceremony prescribed by the leaders of the family's cult. In lonelygirl15's earliest videos, she posted video replies to, and dropped the names of popular YouTubers. To further the initial illusion that Bree was a real girl, a MySpace page was set up for her and she began corresponding with many of her fans.
At first discussion regarding why they thought lonelygirl15 might be a fake went on in her video comments. In early August 2006, a fan began a discussion at the previously stagnant www.lonelygirl15.com message boards and raised an all-out investigation into the who, what, and where was behind lonelygirl15. Soon the message board became invigorated with discussion about even the tiniest details in each of her videos, everything from the quality of the lighting to the flora seen in her outdoor videos. Fans used the forum to collect, organize and share their findings, making the investigation a truly collaborative effort. Fans pointed to small inconsistencies within the videos as evidence that the story might not be genuine, wondering if Bree's posts were part of a teaser campaign for a television show or an upcoming movie (similar to the viral marketing used to hype The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield). Others thought that the blog might be part of an alternate reality game.
Los Angeles Times reporter Richard Rushfield was the first to provide proof of a hoax, when he wrote of Shaina Wedmedyk, Chris Patterson, and an anonymous blogger law student, who set up a sting on MySpace to reveal that the Creative Artists Agency was behind the videos. Eventually it was revealed that 16-year-old "Bree" was played by 19-year-old actress Jessica Rose. Media sources seized upon the story, covering both the search process and the eventual "outing" as a fictional series.
New York Times reporter Virginia Heffernan expanded on the series of revelations on September 12 out with an article which confirmed Jessica Rose's identity, and revealed the identities of her "co-conspirators", Ramesh Flinders, a screenwriter and filmmaker from Marin County, California, and Miles Beckett, a doctor-turned-filmmaker. Software engineer Grant Steinfeld was also involved in this project, as a photographer. Amanda Solomon Goodfried assisted in their efforts to hide their identities as well as posed as "Bree"'s online alter-ego. Goodfried's father-in-law, Kenneth Goodfried, handled various legal matters. The personnel involved worked under a non-disclosure agreement, according to Grant Steinfeld. Steinfeld has verified most of this information to the Times, and provided photographs he took of Rose on set as proof. Also on September 12, the three main creators gave an interview to the Los Angeles Times revealing the third major partner as Greg Goodfried.
Since the fictional nature of lonelygirl15 has been revealed, the storyline continued to develop via new videos posted to both YouTube and Revver. However, due to the recent partnership with YouTube and Myspace, videos stopped being posted on lonelygirl15's Revver account, and now are only viewable via YouTube and MyspaceTV. The relationships between future LG15 properties and various online video websites, what will be shown exclusively on which services etc. is not known at this time.
Jessica Rose participated in a United Nations campaign in 2006, to fight poverty through an online anti-poverty video. Rose portrayed the lonelygirl15 character as she sat by herself in her bedroom talking to the camera. The subject matter in the video focused on poverty relief, which breaks from the regular subject matter of the show. The video was posted on an alternate account, separate from the main channel.
On November 20, 2006, lonelygirl15.com announced that the spin-off OpAphid was the official alternate reality game of lonelygirl15. OpAphid began in late September with what many speculated was a well-produced fan effort, and this announcement merges its characters OpAphid, Tachyon, and 10033/Brother, into the series storyline and continuity. In early February 2007, it was revealed that Glenn Rubenstein was the original puppetmaster behind the OpAphid alternate reality game and also the creator of its characters, OpAphid, Tachyon, and Brother. Due to internal issues between the Creators and Glenn, OpAphid is no longer the official ARG.
A 2006 episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent was based on the lonelygirl15 phenomenon. The episode "Weeping Willow" featured a blogger named weepingwillow17, played by Michelle Trachtenberg. Willow and her boyfriend were kidnapped by Men in Black who demanded her fans donate money to a website to save their lives. The investigators did not know if Willow was real or fake. Various other video bloggers were also seen decrying weepingwillow as a fake, just like many did on YouTube. The site on the episode was named YouLenz.
The lonelygirl15 blog won Biggest Web Hit Award on VH1's Big in '06 Awards.
In the "Best Series" category of the inaugural YouTube Video awards in March 2007, the series "Ask a Ninja", "Ask a Gay Man", and "Chad Vader - Day Shift Manager" finished first, second and third, with the lonelygirl15 series finishing fourth. The New York Times attributed Lonelygirl's finish to the YouTube community's ill will towards the series.
On August 3, 2007, Season One of lonelygirl15 celebrated its finale with an exclusive on MySpaceTV known as "12 in 12" where 12 videos were uploaded over the course of 12 hours from 8 am PST to 7 pm PST, culminating in the highest one-day viewership ever for the series. A "summary" video from the first season was offered as a part of the event, and it logged in over a million views on its own.In the last episode of the Season One finale, Bree's character is killed off by the order during the ceremony in the season finale and her trait positive blood was transfused into one of the order's elders. The reason for her character's death was attributed to Rose not renewing her contract for Season Two.
lonelygirl15 was the first Internet series to introduce product integration when the episode "Truckstop Reunion" featured the characters eating and displaying Hershey's Icebreaker's Sours Gum.
In another example of a product integration first, lonelygirl15 landed on the front page of Variety for the integration of a character from Neutrogena in the storyline over the period of more than two months. Dr. Spencer Gilman became such a popular character that Neutrogena made him "Employee of the Month" and gave him his own e-mail account on the company's corporate website.