I have a confession to make: I hate television. There is not a single show on TV that I watch with any regularity whatsoever, and when my TV is on, it’s usually tuned to sports or there’s a DVD playing. Nothing original is ever on TV; every show is just a rehash and they are all just, well…tired. While I’m at it, I have another confession to make: when one of the producers of this web-based series contacted me and told me the series was described by another reviewer as "the best TV show NOT on TV", I wasn’t entirely convinced that was true. But now, having watched all six episodes of the series, I have to say that the reviewer’s comment was absolutely, positively, 100% spot-on.
Girl./Girl. Scene is a drama/romance/comedy about a group of lesbians and the friends they hang out with as well as peripheral characters with whom they come in contact. I’m tempted to describe the series as a soap opera, but the use of that term connotes many negative adjectives in my mind, none of which are remotely related to this series; however, the show does have several central characters, plenty of romance and love triangles (and love quadrilaterals, and love pentagons, and…well, you get the picture), as well as a large dose of drama.
I’ve seen a few web series with pretty low production values, but that is not the case with this series. The production values are uniformly high, a testament to the talent of this cast and crew. In fact, if one reads the credits, one finds that the cast and crew are all multi-talented. For example, one of the lead characters, Evan (Tucky Williams), is also the creator/writer and a co-producer for the series. The lone male lead, Elliot (Jackson Cofer) is also a talented musician and his bands supplies much of the music for the series. And Eric Butts, who has a small supporting role as an independent director (oh, the irony), is also the director, cinematographer and editor for the series, in addition to supplying some of the music as well. I was quite impressed with the cinematography. Butts does a superb job of designing creative and unique camera angles that support the emotions in the series. The music is also a high point, alternating from snippets of musical score to actual songs supplied by mostly local/regional talent. Not only are the songs very, very good, but they aren’t used as just filler, but are placed in appropriate places within the film. I can’t tell you how many indie filmmakers put their own music or a friend’s music into a film for no reason other than to showcase the music. This does a terrible disservice to the film as many times the music clashes with the images. Not so in Girl./Girl. Scene. Whether musical score or actual songs, the music is always thoughtfully placed and contributes to the emotions the images are trying to convey.
And while the series is technically polished, the entire thing would break down without a strong storyline to carry it for several 35-45 minute episodes. Make no mistake about it–the writing is excellent. While the early episodes go more for a party atmosphere and focus on the flings, crushes, and one-night stands of the main characters, gradually, more and more drama is infused as the character arcs unfold. What we find is that each woman is struggling with personal demons and each is hurting in their own way. I don’t want to give away too much because the dramatic tension depends upon some surprising revelations, but I will say that one character is chemically dependent, one is dealing with abandonment issues, one girl is dealing with her first homosexual feelings and the fact that she may be gay, while another has a very well-hidden bipolar disorder. And don’t forget the mother who is happy that her daughter is friends with someone who is "gay" (in point of fact, he is transgendered, not gay) and is very pleased with herself for being so tolerant, but eventually ends up trying to deal with the fact that her daughter is gay. This is powerful and dramatic stuff and emotions run both deep and wide. While I have very little actual knowledge of the homosexual community, as a lifelong public educator, I do have some experience with teens struggling to discover their true sexual orientation, and many of these storylines seem very real to me, not typical "Hollywood" drama. It helps, of course, that a good many of the cast and crew are gay or lead "alternate lifestyles", so the series smacks of true authenticity.
It also helps to have strong actors, and Girl./Girl. Scene can boast of this as well. While there are a few supporting characters who might be a bit amateurish, the entire ensemble cast is both professional as well as extremely talented. The range of emotions each display is phenomenal. While each actor is very good, I was most impressed with Joe Elswick as Jessie, a 16-year-old girl who inadvertently learns the true nature of her sexual orientation. Armed with this new knowledge, she begins to explore her sexual feelings in tender, devious and heartbreaking ways. Jessie’s transgender teen friend Elliot (Jackson Cofer), is caught between his oldest and best friend and her mother and can’t seem to do anything right. Both Elswick and Cofer are superb and alternate between light comedy, bumbling teenage feelings, deep hurt and anger flawlessly. The other actors are equally good, but perhaps these two stand out because so far their storylines have been the most developed. Tucky Williams, as Evan, is also wonderful throughout the series, and saves her powerhouse performance for the latest episode when she reveals her inner demon to friends, breaking down and crying.
The series is filmed in and around the Lexington, Kentucky, area. Since I was born and raised in and around the Lexington area, it was also fun for me to look for all the iconic Lexington locations. I was thrilled to see Rupp Arena (Go ‘Cats!) and the Kentucky Theater, among many other terrific locations; however, not being familiar with these landmarks will not affect your enjoyment of the series–it just made it more fun for me.
If I may steal from an earlier review of the series, Girl./Girl. Scene is certainly "the best TV series NOT on TV." It has been a treat watching the six episodes complete thus far (with episode seven nearing completion and the season finale already being filmed) and I can’t wait to see what’s coming. One character mysteriously disappears in the middle of the series, and I do hope she returns as well, not only because she is a wonderful actor, but because I was intrigued with her character arc. I’ve never seen a series–TV or otherwise–that attempts to deal with the disorder this particular character has, and I think it is not only refreshing but a terrific attempt to deal realistically and sensitively with this condition. If anyone can do it, these filmmakers can.
Do yourself a favor and go to www.girlgirlscene.com and check out this series. The site is excellent and has plenty of other material about the series and the people who are working to bring it to the viewers. But be warned: you will become hooked, so make sure you have several hours to watch all the episodes.