A BIG SHOE INTERVIEW WITH KARL MARXXX AND ADAM GOLDMAN OF THE OUTS
Like most proto-hipster gay urban 30-somethings vying for relevance in the ever-expanding sea of the "global cool," I still tritely spend most of my free time seeking out new experiences and being forced to account publicly for my fervors and disaffections. Determined not to be defined by any of the cultural groups to which I reluctantly belong, especially when it comes to the consumption of media, I find myself voyeuristically sampling from the best and the brightest that other savvier people tell me about.
But sometimes, I'm lonely and I just want to watch my own version of Cheers where everyone knows my shame. Sometimes, it feels really good to watch a show with characters you can relate to. And it feels even better when that show has great dialogue, tells a compelling story and makes you laugh (or cry). In the age of Ryan Murphy media madness, I'm told I should feel a great deal of pride about the plethora of gay characters in film and television and I do, but their almost uniform upper middle class comforts and suburban relationship foibles ring hollow to me (even when the writing is superb and makes me giggle). But where's my gay Roseanne? Where's my real "real L-Word"? (Note: we did write about The Slope on BSD when we found it.)
What a treat it was for me recently, to be trolling Facebook profiles of people towards which I used to harbor seriously unhealthy resentments (I'm totally over it, totally) and to find a video link titled simply, The Outs. I immediately watch all four available stories. Crammed into these short, beautifully shot webisodes are dense characters with actual failings (not leave the the second car in neutral with baby-on-board failings) and emotional shortcomings, as well as deep capacities for love and compassion that communicate in the modern digitally-infused cadence that we're all trying to define. And they are characters I have been or know (one word, "slut phone"). And finally, some 12 years after texting became integral to our collective identity, the creators, Adam Goldman and Sascha Winters have effectively woven these communications into a storyline. It's my Cheers, for now and I had the good fortune to connect with one of the shows creators, Adam Goldman, who was recently included in the OUT 100 list for his work on The Outs.
BSD: What inspired you to make The Outs? Had you worked on any webisodes or film projects prior to The Outs that influenced your work on the series?
This is the first web-based project I've worked on in some time. My roommate Sasha Winters - who plays Oona - and I wanted to work together so we just decided to make a show that we would want to watch. Someone asked me recently what my favorite part of the creative process is, and I told him the end, because that's when I just get to watch the fucking show like everyone else.
BSD: Some folks have said that The Outs is another great addition to this newer form of queer storytelling that more accurately reflects the lives of GLBT people, the types of relationships we have and the methods of interactions (dialogue, texting, social media, etc.). Do you watch other webisodes like It Gets Betterish, The Slope Show or Hunting Season?
I do. It's encouraging to see people filling in this sort of generational gap - all the homos on TV are in their 30's and they're adopting*, there just aren't a lot of examples of People Like Us™ on TV. So we're getting these stories and this content out the best way we can. As long as the end result is good - which is just to say honest and intentional - I think more is better.
*Interviewers Note: Not all gay 30-somethings live in the suburbs with adopted children and we're tired of watching that story too. Also, we love 20-somethings, but you guys have to stop using that generation gap phrase.
BSD: What stands out for me in watching the series is the unconventional timeline in the storytelling? Did this happen in the writing or as you started shooting the series?
I guess you mean the way the fifth episode takes place before the first four? That was something we'd planned from the get-go. It was important to establish how the characters end up in the situation they're in at the beginning of the show, and it clarifies the relationships a lot. Hopefully when you watch the whole show you'll be able to go back and watch it again and pick up on little touches that have been there from the beginning.
BSD: At the last showing, I overheard someone saying "The Outs is like [HBO's] Girls, only more melancholy and gayer." Do you know Lena Dunham and how do you feel about the comparison? Is the time right for a more mainstream production of smart gay tv or will we all be forced to watch schmaltzy Ryan Murphy projects 'til we go back into the closet?
I don't know Lena, but I know her work, and I think Girls does so many things right. In particular I think she's a pretty outstanding actor. We're on such a shoestring budget - the total cost of our show will end up being something like $25,000 - that [in] comparison to any HBO show (I might prefer Game of Thrones but beggars choosers etc.) - which costs millions of dollars and requires a cast of thousands to produce - is necessarily a huge compliment.
I do think it's time for a smart piece of entertainment featuring a gay character. That's not so much to ask, is it? It doesn't have to be Weekend, just give me something, some character to watch and go "Ah, I know where you're coming from."
BSD: What's next for the OUTS?
People tell us they want more of the show, so we're trying to figur out how to make that happen, and what exactly that means for the characters and the way we proceed. Even now, at the end of the process, the people who make the show happen are working more or less for free, so that would need to change if we were to make more of the show online.
The Outs will screen its final episode of the season at Public Assembly in Brooklyn, NY this Monday, November 19th.