Can we call this its own subgenre now or what? Web series from inside the so-called ‘LA Bubble’ have dipped their bucket in the well of aspiring Hollywood stories that it really deserves its own name. We get barraged by a least one of these a week—two, possibly three, young twentysomethings have moved out to LA clawing their way through the dregs of the Hollywood ladder, all while underpaid and oversexed.
A new entrant joined the fold this month in Freckle and Bean, opening with three episodes that so far hug true to this quasi-meta subgenre of the real Young Hollywood. James (Elena Crevello) and Emma (Heather McCallum), both girls in their early-twenties, are fresh-off-the-interstate transplants from the midwest trying to beat the odds and make it in Hollywood.
The clichés of this new genre are all here—craigslist roommates, sketchy dates with d-list celebrities, indentured servitude of A-listers assistant jobs. But something clicks in this series where others don’t. The charm of the two leading ladies, both good friends in real life, mix relatable ambition with a classy candor that finds me rooting for them throughout their missteps. (Crevello and McCallum both co-wrote the series.) Balance that with a well fleshed-out supporting cast of characters, like Skye (Betsy Cox) the incapable A-lister who shines as a comic Lohan of the story, and comedy wannabe Ken (Kris Sharma) who brings a burst of energy into the mix. Yoga couch-surfer Chase (Bobby Gold) is always good for a few well-timed laughs.
Earlier dives into this territory like Let’s Get Laid took on the more raunchier side of two young ladies balancing hellish careers with batshit personal lives.
The pacing is swift and refreshing, thanks to promising young director David Spiegelman, who spent a few years apprenticing under National Treasure helmer Jon Turteltaub. Sure, there’s a indie feel well known to first-season web series, but it’s remarkably forgiving.
Whatever we end up calling this new subgenre, it’s one that is still largely absent from mainstream TV these days. Friends dabbled in a 90’s New York spin on it, and today’s Entourage or The Hills is closer to fantasy than the all too familiar reality of what life is really like for a whole generation of overeducated Hollywood aspirants.
And that’s what makes Freckle and Bean really work for me—overcoming the less than polished camera or occasionally muddy lighting—it’s that we’re watching stories from those that are actually experiencing them, not from a committee of writers and suits pushing re-writes. Sometimes that Taco Bell audition actually does devolve into a bikini photo shoot.