You might recognize her name from previous works with AfterEllen and her current work with LOTL and Curve, but Chloe Curran is making headlines this time in her web series writing debut with ADVOCATES. The series is brutally honest and plays on some of the LGBTQ's more famous tropes. A series featuring queer characters played by real queer actors, this series is sending an important message to Hollywood. Read more below and be sure to check out ADVOCATES today.
netTVnow: You’re gearing up for the premiere of your first web series, ADVOCATES, how does it feel?*
Chloe Curran: I’m stoked! This is my first show and it’s been- to be utterly cliche- a learning experience. From conception to rewrites to casting to pre-production to post production, we’ve taken a lot of time to make sure ADVOCATES is as good as possible. I’m excited to share it with the world.
NTN: What’s the quick and dirty synopsis of the series?
CC: Satirical workplace comedy set in a LGBTQ nonprofit called GULPTAB* (Gay, Unidentified, Lesbian, Pansexual, Transgender, Asexual, Bisexual, Asterisk). It follows a witty lesbian, Iris, a opinionated gay man, Adrian, and their silly but sincere interns. ADVOCATES is about queer people making fun of themselves, and everyone else while they’re at it.
NTN: Where did the concept of the series come from?
CC: I was hanging out with Bridget McManus, the incredible actress and comedian who plays GULPTAB*’s President, and she encouraged me to write a web series. I had just finished writing a pilot and was contemplating my next project. I wanted to write about gay people and thought a LGBTQ non-profit would be a funny setting where everyone would reasonably be queer. I knew I wanted it to be a comedy, and I didn’t want to write something we’ve seen a lot of. No coming out stories or angsty love affairs or groups of hot lesbians dating and doing dyke drama.
At that point I’d been writing for AfterEllen for several years, and I’d been exposed to all these interesting aspects of LGBTQ culture that most of my non-internet dwelling friends didn’t know about. Good stuff, bad stuff, and weird stuff. I wanted to write LGBTQ characters who didn’t depress me and who weren’t one dimensional. Then I came up with different scenarios inspired by different aspects of subcultures in our community.
NTN: What was the writing process like for you? What surprised you most about writing for this medium?
CC: Rewrites. I did so many rewrites. I’ve actually written an entire season of ADVOCATES and I’ve re-written and read through and added and honed every damn word. Here’s the surprising thing about rewrites: they genuinely make a script better. I actually threw out the first episode of ADVOCATES I wrote. In hindsight, it was crap. I started again and the next try was better, although obviously I rewrote that a dozen or so times.
I think of a lot of my favorite jokes or bits while driving. I frantically scribble them down as soon as I get to my destination and try to work them in the next day. I also pull a lot from conversations, online and in person. I take something real that I find funny or interesting and then I heighten it as much as it can be heightened.
NTN: You mentioned that every queer character in the series is played by a queer person, how important was that for you in casting?
CC: So important. If you look at the majority of LGBTQ characters in film, TV, and a good chunk of web series, they are played by straight actors. Especially lesbian characters. And then we’re supposed to fawn over them and say, "Oh how brave you are Mitzy, thank you so much for representing my community.” My community can represent itself.
When you cast a straight actor in a LGBTQ role, several things happen:
- The part is not given to a LGBTQ actor, who is also probably being passed up for straight roles because they’re too gay, resulting in very few famous LGBTQ actors in Hollywood
- The actor pulls from stereotypes, tropes, and bad gay cinema to create a likely one-dimensional character similar to all the other one dimensional gay characters played by straight actors
- The press and conversation around the film focuses on a straight celebrity rather than gay character
- LGBTQ people are depicted through the lens, face, and voice of a straight person, warping our existence and identities to appeal to straight audiences.
Hollywood needs to stop straight washing. Stop casting straight women as lesbians, straight men as gay, and really stop casting cis actors as trans.
NTN: What are some things audiences can look forward to in the series?
CC: Sweetness to go along with the snark.
NTN: Tell us more about the series’ leads. How do they fit into this fictional GLAAD-type organization?
CC: First of all: GULPTAB* is not GLAAD. Any resemblance to any organizations is purely coincidental, fictional, etc. You could perhaps draw similarities between the two, but that’s you darling, not me.
Iris, the lesbian lead, is GULPTAB*’s Director of Communications and Adrian is the social media manager. Iris is funny as Director of Communication because she’s always having to curb her communication skills as they’re a little too real for most people to handle. She’s a young, confident, ambitious lesbian looking to climb the career ladder, but she’s not always impressed by her tasks at GULPTAB*. Social Media Manager is an important but also kind of ridiculous job, and Adrian slacks his way through it.
They’re buddies, not classic heroes but good people none the less who like to mock their surroundings.
NTN: I like that you picked some of the more popular tropes within the LGBTQ community and bring a satire feel to it, why was that something you wanted to focus on?
CC: Tropes are cliches, and cliches are ripe for mockery. I’m also incredibly bored of tropes because I’ve watched so much tropey gay content I sometimes want to scream. Sometimes I do scream.
Sometimes LGBTQ people and institutions take themselves very, very seriously. I wanted to add a bit of levity. Other minorities make fun of themselves. Straight people absolutely make fun of themselves. Why shouldn’t we? What are we so scared of? That we’re going to write a couple unsympathetic gay characters or crack a couple jokes at our own expense and they’ll take away our rights? A little confidence, please.
NTN: Which character is your favorite? Why?
CC: I have no favorites. They are all my demon babies. Not because they’re demons, but because I’ve worked so much on them I feel like a mother who really, really wants her children to move out.
Every character has a bit of me. Some good bits some bad bits some weird bits. But there’s a tiny part of me in each one. Iris most of all, I suppose. It took a lot of work, but I think each character could have a stand alone episode or plotline. They are distinct, interesting people.
NTN: Reflecting on your experience with the series, are there things you would have done differently? If so, what and why?
CC: Maybe there are a few lines I would have tweaked, or a few shots I would have set up differently. I wish we could have shot more episodes, because I think the other episodes could be even better. The series really fleshes out and gets juicy as it progresses. But we did the most we could with the money we raised.
NTN: Do you have any upcoming projects to share or anything else to add?
CC: Right now I’m working on a rom com. I guess I’d say watch, subscribe, and share ADVOCATES! And if you really like it and want to see more episodes, let us know. I appreciate you all. Over 170 people donated to make this happen. I really hope they like this. Their generosity and faith means so much to me. I’ve carried that every step of the way. I want to give my community the show they deserve. Something different.
*Note: This interview took place prior to the series premiere