Web series kicks off its second season and explores the Sapphic side of its cast.
You're young, you're smart and you're finally finished with school—now what do you do? If you're like most young people, the answer is panic. That's what filmmaker Danielle Earle did as the pressure to “achieve something” in life began to stack up. So she decided to make a show about it. "Everyone I went to school with is getting married and starting lives and when you're single you can feel like there's something wrong with you," says Earle. "You feel like you should have had everything set up." Earle turned that anxiety into Brooklyn is in Love, her award-winning web series about lovelorn 20-somethings, now kicking off its second season.
While studying for her Master's at City College of New York two years ago, Earle (born in the Bronx) became increasingly enamored with Brooklyn. She loved the diversity, the young urban vibe and the contrast with sleek, money-drenched Manhattan. So she wrote a show concept set in the borough and went looking for collaborators. Stephanie Lazorchak, a school acquaintance who would become editor on Brooklyn is in Love, was charmed by the focus on the neighborhood: "I thought, Oh, this would be great. The challenge is, how do you live in a city that's so inspiring and make it a reality so that people outside of this city can relate?"
Brooklyn follows three 20-somethings jilted by life: Diane (Miranda McCauley), a vulnerable, lonely woman coping with her fiancé’s murder, Nikki (Elizabeth McIntire in season one and Katja Gerz in season two), a troubled party girl who hates to commit, and Bryan (Kather Sei), a naïve gay man trying to make ends meet. Over the course of season one’s eight episodes they fall in love, fall apart, fall down and always, always fall for the wrong person.
Do they grow up? A little … but part of the point of Brooklyn is that these days it's hard to grow up even when you want to. "I was brought up to see numbers, you know? You're supposed to have this at that age, do this by that age, and I guess I'm freaked out that I'm not really there yet," Diane repines in the season's final episode. It's a running theme—not just for the characters, but for the cast.
"You have these ideas and dreams of what you're going to be when you're 25, and then you get there and you realize, Shit, this isn't the person I was supposed to be," says Kather Sei, who is a year away from the quarter-century mark himself. "Twenty-five just isn't the same anymore."
"I had three dollars in my pocket" when she arrived in New York says actress Miranda McCauley, who made the move from Texas on a whim. "I was 23 or 24 when I started doing the series [and] I was doing panic attacks all the time saying, 'Why don’t I have an agent yet?'" She notes that the experience of the show gave her a more measured perspective. But that mixture of anxiety, borderline despair and resolute optimism still populates Brooklyn.
Photo By: Chris Vongsawat
Going into the second season, Earle and Lazorchak realized there was something missing from their menagerie of love affairs, love birds, love triangles and love octagons: Where are all the lezzies? Earle says it’s an oversight they were keen to correct. "I did want to have that, to make the show more universal. I want to make it a show for everybody to watch. The lesbian community goes through all the same issues [as the other characters]. I think it gives a place for the community to feel like they're as much a part of the story as anyone." This season, Nikki (now played by new addition to the cast Katja Gerz), despondent after being unlucky at love once again, bumps into an old flame: Jill. Soon, viewers are learning all sorts of new things about Nikki.
"She was the perfect character" for this subplot says Stephanie Lazorchak. Nikki, she says, is compelled to explore her sexuality because of her chronic dissatisfaction with past relationships. The character has such a lousy track record that she can't help but wonder, "Maybe the problem all along has been that I'm actually …."
Gerz says she had no trouble relating to the material. "I had just finished a movie where I played a married woman with another woman, and it was a very intense," she says of her role in the short film Dedsteadied. "I've always been very comfortable with that topic. For me it's the same thing. If I love somebody, if I hate somebody, it's all the same [regardless of orientation]."
"I come onto the scene and I'm part of Nikki's past life. We meet up randomly again at a night club and we reconnect, so to speak," says Meredith Nicholaev, who plays Jill. "It's so different from the roles that I usually play: She's strong, she knows what she wants, and she's self-reliant and a bit of a seductress."
Brooklyn is in Love suffered some growing pains. It was the first major project for Earle, and season one had its ups and its downs … and sometimes more downs. The sound quality varied wildly, lighting was spotty and the production ran into unlikely strokes of bad luck, like when Earle's car was towed on the very first day of shooting. But Brooklyn won three LA Web Series Festival Awards this year for its creative elements: Best Ensemble, Best Writing and Best Supporting Actress (Nicole Vogt-Lowell as betrayed wife Holly). The new season (financed almost exclusively by Earle herself) ups the production value considerably. The show is a labor of love, and like any love affair, it weathers the rough patches.
Brooklyn is in Love's new season is streaming now. (http://brooklynisinlove.com/EPISODES.html)