A Long Awaited Comeback
An unaired network pilot turned-online web-series, Nikki & Nora has been re-imagined and made for distribution exclusively online.
Beyond the impressive high production quality of the show's carefully crafted storyline, impeccable acting and directing, what makes the drama series “Nikki & Nora” particularly newsworthy and relevant in the current landscape of entertainment TV is the behind-the-scenes story. Equally impressive is how and why the show came about and what it has accomplished not only for its fan-base, cast and crew, but also, and most importantly, how it has spearheaded a big shift in the demand and consumption of original content, certainly heralding the dawning of new era in the way LGBT characters are being portrayed.
Originally created in 2004 for the now defunct UPN network, the series would revolve around two professional and romantic female partners who worked for the Special Crimes Unit of the New Orleans Police Department. UPN passed on the show, but the unaired episode didn’t die and instead made its way to YouTube.
It’s no wonder that the series was reborn; “Nikki & Nora” is a multi-facetted, exceptionally well-written show. Nancylee Myatt, director and creator of the series, stated how she wanted her characters to have depth, which is why the series opens with Nikki and Nora already in a stable, long-term relationship. “They’ve been together more than ten years now, and they’ve survived a lot…I want viewers to feel like they get to step into their lives and get to really be with them,” said Nancylee. “Nikki & Nora” feels so realistic and natural not only thanks to the great performance of its actresses, but also because Nancylee has truly captured the little nuances of being a couple.
Nancylee discussed how she has Nikki and Nora doing those small but essential couples’-habits such as sharing a jacket or finishing each other’s thoughts and communicating without needing to say it all, making the relationship come to life.
Nancylee paid tribute to the city of New Orleans, which has proven to be an incredible and fitting choice for the setting of the series, adding to the uniqueness of the show. “The setting of New Orleans is already diverse; it’s a city full of rich culture and heritage that is just fascinating.” Nancylee explained that to have a show get off the ground and be successful there needs to be some “noise,” something that catches viewers interest. The city of New Orleans helped Nancylee create a lot of that noise, along with having her main characters be two established-lesbians of course.
Both Liz Vassey and Christina Cox, two excellent actresses and the stars of “Nikki & Nora,” also had nothing but good to say about filming in New Orleans. Liz shared her excitement at getting to go back to New Orleans, saying that “it was a joy; New Orleans is a sexy, fun place… it was remarkable.” While Christina said that New Orleans is “culturally a really important, emergent city,” and she hopes to give back to the community in any way possible.
The show became a critical online smash and somewhat of an Internet phenomenon - a juggernaut of watercooler talk that ran rampant over social media and some of today’s major online trendspotters. While the pilot accumulated dust on a shelf for 9 years, with loyal fans keeping their love thriving through fan-fiction sites, Nikki & Nora was at last reborn as a web series earlier this year.
All made possible by fans that would not let go of this crime fighting lesbian couple in America’s oldest party town and one record breaking crow-funding campaign launched by creator Nancylee Myatt, the producers and the cast. The fundraising campaign for Nikki & Nora is the largest funded campaign for a series with lesbian lead characters, and they surpassed their goal by 30%.
What the massive success of the series proves is that Hollywood stereotypes can be broken. While we see more and more lesbian roles placated on our small screens, the overall landscape of lesbian and bisexual characters on TV remains confined within the age-old stereotypes. Nikki & Nora challenges the norm by giving life onscreen to stories that genuinely ring true to our own gay experiences.
The series gives lesbian-kind a fresh breath of air when it comes to quality of character and on-screen portrayals of lesbian-lifestyle. Both Liz Vassey (Nikki) and Christina Cox (Nora) described their on-screen interactions as instant chemistry. “I had met Christina and Nancylee for two seconds, and felt that magic and alchemy. We genuinely care about each other, and it took no time to get that chemistry back.”
That natural chemistry really shows, making for an on-screen lesbian relationship that we can all get behind and invest in. Liz and Christina, not lesbians themselves but straight-allies, both agreed that really there is no one way to “play lesbian.” “Love is love,” said Liz. While Christina Cox said that gay or straight, the character’s sexuality isn’t a factor when it comes to deciding whether or not she wants to play a character.
So what is “Nikki & Nora” about? “Nikki & Nora” follows New Orleans locals Nikki Beaumont (Liz Vassey) and Nora Delaney (Christina Cox), former NOPD cops turned private investigators in the Big Easy, post-Katrina. They navigate the channels of their personal life together alongside their dedication to uncovering the truth in the one city that really likes to keep its secrets. The original lead actresses are joined by a super cast of other familiar faces including Janina Gavankar (best known as “Papi” on Showtime’s The L Word) and Aasha Davis (Pariah, South of Nowhere), among others.
Produced by MyHardt Productions, (Nancylee Myatt & Paige Bernhardt), Christina Cox, Liz Vassey, Christin Mell & tellofilms, Season One of Nikki & Nora is now being relaunched with the addition of a super-special reel of behind-the-scenes clips from the set - an exclusive sneak peek at how the N&N crew set up scenes, and how actors practiced action sequences, and blew off steam in NOLA
In the Netflix and overall online tradition, fans can boot up their computers, grab a bowl of popcorn, laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll) and enjoy a binge-watching marathon of “N&N” indulging in seven glorious episodes all at once on tellofilms.com.
Nancylee Myatt, Christina Cox, Liz Vassey and the rest of the cast and crew of “Nikki & Nora” have once again come together to give us a truly unique and incredible show. Set in the culturally rich and frankly magical city of New Orleans, “Nikki & Nora” gives us a true-to-life lesbian couple that we can get behind and be proud of. Nancylee, Christina and Liz have all shared their hopes that there will be many more seasons of “Nikki & Nora” to come, and we sure hope to see a lot more of the lovely Nikki and Nora as well.