It seems like everywhere you turn lately, there’s a promo for Grace Helbig’s E! talk show, which airs at 10:30pm on Thursdays.
But Helbig, touted as a massive YouTube star, might not be the Chelsea Handler type E! fans expected.
Her millions of loyal YouTube followers don’t seem to be following her to the television screen. 227,000 tuned in for the show’s first episode on E! and the second episode brought in 262,000 viewers. While things might have been looking up, the third episode on garnered a low 182,000 viewers, according to Headline Planet.
These numbers puts the show’s rating at 0.09, which does not bode well for the future of the series, or the idea that YouTube stars can seamlessly transition from being laptop famous to flatscreen famous.
“The Royals,” another E! show that’s in its first few weeks of existence, brought in nearly 2 million viewers on its premiere night and is currently ranked as Sunday night’s most popular scripted show among 18-to-34-year-old women, according to Zap2it. Of course, it benefits from airing right after “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” the number-one ad-supported cable show on TV right now, but even still, “Royals” is bringing in roughly 10 times more viewers than Helbig.
But the fight isn’t over — YouTube is promoting her with a series of billboards, while E! is sprinkling TV promos on its network.
To someone who’s paying attention, Helbig is everywhere — but if you’re not the kind of person who spends a big chunk of time cruising through YouTube, it’s likely you’ve never heard of her.
Helbig got her start on YouTube, where her channel was picked up by “My Damn Channel,” a network with a massive following that allows certain vloggers to publish on their platform. The deal lasted for a few years, and Helbig amassed fans posting videos that portrayed her to be the Zooey Deschanel of YouTube.
She delivered quirky blips and ramblings about nothing such as, “Why don’t they make a ham lipgloss?” It seemed her followers were loyal.
But would they be loyal enough to follow her to the big screen?
Based on the ads posted all over subway stations, Helbig comes off as relatable and wacky, a derivative of the “romcom girl,” an actress whose beauty and style is offset by her acknowledgment of charming flaws.
In 2014, she published “Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending You’re a Grown Up.” She says that d
espite her 2.2 million subscribers on YouTube, becoming internet famous was “a slow process.”
“It’s very rare to have what they call a viral sensation happen and to have overnight success,” Helbig said on The Today Show. “It takes dedication and it takes brand building. For me, it wasn’t one moment. It was kind of a gradual growth.”
When the deal with “My Damn Channel” ended, she created a new channel on her own called “It’sGrace,” and her fans met her there. Below, her first video on the new channel:
Her twee and self-deprecating persona permeates everything she does. At other times, she reveals a dark side to her comedy that’s more Maria Bamford than Zooey Deschanel.
In a video about getting ready for prom, she gives “five different last-minute prom looks for five different personality types.” When the “basic” prom look model runs into a girl who’s wearing the same thing as she is, Helbig says:
“When you see someone else that thinks they’re special like you’re special, it ruins your special. You’re special. The magazines and the television shows told you that you’re special. You’re not special. What happens when you’re not special? You’re nothing.”
Helbig fans shouldn’t lose hope yet, as some YouTubers have found success on TV.
Whitney Thore’s show, “My Big Fat Fabulous Life,” averaged 1.2 million viewers over its first season and was renewed for a second season on TLC, according to Zap2it. Tyler Oakley has also had crossover appeal, appearing on TV shows and nabbing an endorsement deal from Pepsi.