Toshiba and Intel have teamed up to create a weekly web series with a couple interesting twists. The Beauty Inside follows Alex, a restorer of antiques, as he tries to navigate the complexities of love, identity, and human connection. What may sound like a fairly familiar story of romance and self-discovery is made infinitely more complex by the fact that Alex has a unique problem—every morning he wakes up with the body of a different person.
He may be fat, skinny, beautiful, ugly, old, young, male, or female, but every day is different. The character is given a sense of consistency through narrative voice-overs (done by Topher Grace), which help a lot in grounding a character that could otherwise be quite difficult to relate to. It also helps establish Alex as essentially male. The whole story comes together well as a sort of literal metaphor, where a lot of the internal experiences that we go through, particularly when meeting new people we’re interested in, play out in Alex's actual experiences.
This wouldn't be a Transmedia story if that were the extent of things. In addition to the series of YouTube videos, The Beauty Inside has a Facebook page where fans can "audition" for the part of Alex. This is done by submitting videos (or even still photos) of yourself for use in the series. The idea is that since Alex looks different every day, there was one day that he looked like you. These fan-Alexs are easy to spot in the episodes, and are rarely on screen for very long, but it is a neat way for the creators to expand the breadth of Alex's many faces, and to add depth to parts of the show’s central metaphor—that we are all Alex, in a way (Plus, it's just fun for people to see their faces in a professionally produced web video).
This isn't the first time that Toshiba and Intel have tried a project like this. Last year they produced a horror/thriller experience called simply Inside, where the audience attempted to help a kidnapped woman escape from her captor. The project received sharply mixed reviews. On the one hand, people seem to genuinely enjoy the ongoing interactive elements. On the other, after all was said and done, the story turned out to be unfulfilling, confusing, and basically incomplete. A lot of fans felt like they had been drawn into an extensive commitment of time and interest that didn't pay off in the end. Though The Beauty Inside looks like a completely different kind of project, there are still some fans who worry it could suffer a similar fate.
The Beauty Inside is three episodes in as of this writing, and releases a new episode every Thursday, so we’ll have to wait and see how things develop.
How would you live your life if you woke up with a different body every day?