|from the web series Anyone But Me
This is at once a happy and sad story. One of achievement, frustration and heartbreak. Okay, maybe that’s a little melodramatic. But the subject of this post is a very well-produced web drama, Anyone But Me. It’s innovative. Award-winning. An original web series with good writing and direction. And excellent lead actors.
Anyone But Me is a story about relationships, a touching and very modern series about young people in the process of finding themselves. And about two girls in love.
|Tina Cesa Ward
Anyone But Me is the very engaging work of two women creators, Susan Miller and Tina Cesa Ward. But after winning the first-ever Writers Guild Award for Original New Series, Anyone But Me is done, after just two and a half seasons. The web series had critical acclaim, numerous awards, dedicated fans and an international audience with over 11 million views. And, sad to say, it’s ended with a shortened third season after Susan and Tina were unable to reach their budgeted $120,000 for ten episodes. Thus the happy sad story. Ground-breaking series run a ground.
So what did I like about Anyone But Me? First, I’d have to say the writing. Conceptually, I liked the way the feelings of a character would propel the action and how their awkwardness, insecurity and indecision struggled with their need for emotional honesty and to just be real.
Yes there were plenty of confrontations. Plenty of hurt and confused feelings. And great scene-ending moments. But everything was delivered in what felt like an authentic milieu. And the issues certainly resonated. I could identify with the question of being true to who you are, the fear of having secrets revealed and the need to be yourself. And we’ve all gone through those awkward teenage years of discovery.
I liked that the writing was spare. A lot was communicated with few words. Many of the episodes could serve as a primer on how to do more with less.
Second I’d have to say I liked the directing (and editing). Those credits go to Tina Cesa Ward. The short episodes felt like they were lifted out of a well-made TV movie. A variety of night and daytime scenes, lots of locations, tight and wide shots edited for maximum effect, nice handling of dramatic moments. The locations felt right. And Tina would often punctuate a series of tight dialogue shots with a revealing wide shot to cap the scene. This was a show about relationships, and often it was her visuals that told the story.
The principle actors were all excellent.
Rachel Hip-Flores was the heart and soul of the show and deserved her Best Actress award. This was her first acting job out of college, yet she played her character with an intelligence and vulnerabilty that was captivating. And she made you feel all the tangled emotions that played across her face.
Her free-spirit love interest was very well-played by Nicole Pacent. Yes, she was a girl with big emotions, but she delivered a character that was also confident, intelligent and helped steady her more skittish girlfriend.
And the third principle actor, girl-next-door Jesse Hodges was also excellent as the high school beauty with boyfriend issues, trying to renew her friendship with Rachel’s character and bumping into all her fears and insecurity.
So call it drama, soap opera, whatever, I found Anyone But Me drew me into their lives and issues (there are adults in the series too, all well-played) and I was sad after I screened the last episode. And I give Susan and Tina kudos for making the series stories so universal and appealing.
So, as you might imagine there’s been lots written about the series. If you’re wondering about Susan and Tina’s creative process and their thoughts about how to create a successful dramatic web series, here’s a link to a very informative webcast interview. And here’s a link to their thinking as they prepared for the show finale.
As a final thought, what first caught my attention was this photo of the two key actresses. There’s something about the intensity of their shared moment that made me curious. And, like so many imaginings you can explore as you stumble around the web, I found it a trip well worth taking.