Ten years ago, when YouTube was still a weird social media platform that few people knew what to do with, a young vlogger who went by “lonelygirl15” had the entire internet confused, fascinated and racking up millions of views for her channel.
Now, ten years to the day since her first video and more than seven years since we last heard about her, she’s reappeared in a creepy new video — and the internet is freaking out.
If you don’t know your YouTube history, “Lonelygirl15” was an experimental web series featuring a cute 16-year-old girl named Bree, and for a long time everyone was convinced that she was a real person, making videos in her bedroom and talking about her seemingly boring life as a homeschooled, religious teenager living in the middle of nowhere. She even had a MySpace page where fans could interact with her and ask her questions.
But as Bree became more and more popular online and her daily life became stranger and darker, people started digging for clues and made the shocking revelation that Bree was actually played by an actress named Jessica Lee Rose, and the whole thing was a scripted series being filmed in Los Angeles.
As the story continued to go viral, it turned out that Bree’s family was part of a sinister religious cult called the Order, which selected Bree for a “ceremony” — actually a plot to harvest the girl’s “trait-positive” blood to extend the lives of the cult’s leaders. In a series of increasingly bizarre twists involving new characters across multiple channels, Bree went on the run with her friends, was kidnapped, brainwashed and rescued, and was finally killed by the Order after sacrificing herself to save others.
The old videos seem weird and goofy by today’s standards, but in 2006 this was groundbreaking stuff. Big-name YouTubers like John Green got their start on the platform thanks to “Lonelygirl15,” and it created an entire genre of vlog-style interactive web series including “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” YouTube wouldn’t exist in its current form without her.
And now here she is again, starring in some kind of training video praising the Order and preparing a new crop of teenagers for selection, and people have a lot of questions. Didn’t we all see her die? Has she been brainwashed by the Order? Where did this video come from, and who’s the mysterious “M” who uploaded it to Bree’s channel?
Sharp-eyed LG15 fans have already uncovered clues in this new video and are pointing them out in the comments section. Click on Bree’s left eye at 0:43, for example, and you’ll hear a seemingly random voicemail message; click on her right eye at 1:17 and you’ll see screenshots of a tense email conversation. What other clues are there, and what do they mean? It looks like we’ll have to wait and see.
The relaunch is being led by “Lonelygirl15” co-creator Miles Beckett, Emmy Award-winning producer Jenni Powell who was one of the original fans of the show, writer Logan Rapp, and other team members who plan to integrate new platforms like Snapchat, 360-degree video and virtual reality to the story. After ten years of evolution for YouTube and social media, this series could go in all kinds of crazy directions.
What are your theories about the future of Lonelygirl15? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @WhatsTrending!