*You Me Her* writer/director on "polyamorism"
Audience Network's polyamory dramedy series You Me Her was just renewed for two more seasons; see yesterday's post. John Scott Shepherd, the writer and producer, says he's listening to input from the poly community. So we should get to know him and his thoughts, if we want to help the show represent us in our true interesting-ness.
From an interview that just appeared on IndieWire:
‘You Me Her’ Creator On Making A ‘Premium’ Dramedy That’s Not ‘Duplass-y’
Greg Poehler and Rachel Blanchard in "You Me Her."
By Liz Shannon Miller
Writer John Scott Shepherd’s “You Me Her,” which was renewed Thursday for two more seasons by Audience Network, is unique among TV shows. Despite being what he calls a “premium half hour” [episodes are one hour. –Ed.], a label that could be applied to many other indie-style series like Mark and Jay Duplass’s “Togetherness,” the Portland-set relationship dramedy has tried to make sure it stands out.
Step one: Tackle one of modern society’s most unconventional relationship types — a triad that develops when Jack (Greg Poehler) hires call girl Izzy (Priscilla Faia), who becomes entangled in his marriage with Emma (Rachel Blanchard).
When Shepherd took on the concept of polyamory for the Audience Network/DirecTV original series “You Me Her,” he was surprised to discover that he was tapping into a whole community that was thrilled to see their stories told in an authentic way.
“These real people… it’s so weird, like when you buy a car and you never notice other people driving that car until you bought it,” he told IndieWire. “As soon as you get into this area, you start talking to people who are like, ‘Oh yeah, I know someone,’ or even, ‘I’m in a relationship right now and people constantly tell me it can’t work, but it is working.’ It just opens the door.”
By telling the story of Jack, Emma and Izzy honestly, Shepherd found a whole new way into depicting the subject matter. “I kept thinking of the tone of Working Title movies or ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ or good romantic comedies, the ones that I’ve loved,” he said. “Not only were there stakes, as far as the real world and what it means to do something that different in a community or a society that’s not easily accepted — but could I also create real emotional stakes? Where we actually care about these people and their feelings? If you could accomplish that, if you could take the big idea of polyamorism and then bring it down to the real world and make it relatable, it could be something special.”
The result is a TV series with a real indie film feel....
"Besides not wanting to set it in LA or New York, we didn’t want to have that exact same mumblecore feel. We felt that [the romantic comedy] was being done over and over and over to the point that you couldn’t separate them. I have this problem because I love the form, but which ones are good and which ones aren’t? Do I have to watch them all to find out? Because they do all sort of take on that very, very, very low-concept “Happy Christmas” kind of vibe.
"Another thing that I was interested in experimenting with was, what if it was okay to have a bit of rhythmic, aspirational dialogue in a romantic comedy vibe, and not be afraid of “spiking,” as I call it, whether it’s dramatic or comedic? I do believe that that world of the prestige half hour is going to have to expand its boundaries beyond very, very contained relationship dramedies. Having three people [in one relationship] is an example of that, but there are many other ways to do it. I do think that it’s going to have to happen."
...In terms of working with DirecTV, how has that experience been?
"Really cool. They just are extremely supportive of not just what we’re doing, but also the process. That’s a big part of working outside of broadcast networks. Not everybody thinks TV should be written in a room full of people talking, I come from a background of being a novelist; I think writing happens when you’re alone — that’s where the magic happens, in my pajamas in my cave. I said that that’s how I’d like to do it. I’d like to write the whole series on my own with just the help of the writer’s assistant. I’d like to think of it like a book with 10 chapters. That allowed us all to do it that way. It’s just a whole different way of looking at things."
The whole interview (June 9, 2016).
So, if you were to send him a letter*, what is the one thing you would suggest?
My one thing — to fill a crying gap so far — would be for our entangled trio to meet the wider poly community.
There'd be plenty room for comedy or even snark — like in the newbie-goes-to-a-discussion-group Episode 2 of Terisa Greenan's 2010 poly webseries Family. This could add fascinating background characters. But mostly it could display the essential concept that if you want to master this poly thing, you want to seek out the 30+ years of accumulated, hard-won community wisdom.
A few years ago at a Network for a New Culture Summer Camp East, KamalaDevi (who later went on to a starring role in Showtime's Polyamory: Married & Dating) was asked in a discussion circle, "What's the most important thing for succeeding at polyamory?" She instantly replied, "Community. You need a community."
P.S. June 15: Joreth has begun a series of reviews of the show, on her Poly-ish Movie Reviews site.
* Mailing address:
John Scott Shepherd
c/o Paradigm Talent Agency
360 North Crescent Dr., North Bldg.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-2500.
Labels: You Me Her