If you’re one of the 1000+ people who crowdfunded Season 2 of EastSiders, the award-winning indie web series from Kit Williamson, you’re going to get your money’s worth. The creators hosted a preview screening in Downtown Los Angeles, and even in rough cut form, the new episodes are looking great.
Celebrating an effectively-run Kickstarter campaign that went $28,000 past its $125,000 goal, the cast and crew joined their backers in LA for a screening at the Downtown Independent theater on April 3. “Everybody’s been so incredible,” Kit said. “Over a thousand people donated to the campaign. It means so much to me that so many people cared enough about the show to actually make it a reality.”
EastSiders is a dark comedy about relationships, deception and infidelity that affectionately mocks the hipster culture of LA’s Silver Lake neighborhood. It first aired in December 2012 to enthusiastic reviews and warm praise from fans, who were eager for a quality series that portrayed realistic LGBT relationships without making sexual orientation the characters’ defining feature.
The show stars creator Kit Williamson, Van Hansis, Matthew McKelligon, John Halbach and Constance Wu (now deservedly famous for her role on “Fresh Off the Boat”). This season also features Sean Maher, Stephen Guarino, Brea Grant, Traci Lords, Satya Bhabha, Adam Bucci, Willam Belli and Vera Miao.
If you haven’t caught up with the first season yet (and you should), it deals with the fallout of an “End of the World” party on Mayan Apocalypse Day, where Kit’s character Cal learns that his boyfriend Thom has been cheating on him. In the resulting boozy downward spiral, Cal confronts the other man, Jeremy, only to end up sleeping with him too. It’s uncertain whether Cal and Thom will stay together or break up, and the season ends with Thom moving out. Meanwhile Cal’s impulsive best friend Kathy and her boyfriend Ian also hit a snag when they manage to accidentally get engaged for a day, and then Kathy gets pregnant and has an abortion without telling him.
In Season 2, Cal and Thom are still living separately but have begun an intense new relationship that’s changing fast, while Kathy keeps trying to fight with eternal nice guy Ian because she’s terrified of being boring. Once again, the two couples hit a crisis during a party — Bastille Day this time — hosted by their friend Quincy (Stephen Guarino), whose hilarious interactions with drag queen Willam Belli is one of my favorite parts of the show. Other storylines involve Jeremy being afraid to commit to a meaningful relationship, a visit from Cal’s adorably weird sister, and a lesbian couple whose eight-year marriage is stagnating.
The creators are keeping a lid on spoilers, but I can tell you there were great performances from everyone in the cast and the story takes some surprising and entertaining turns. There’s also more mostly-naked people than last season – nothing explicit, calm down – and most of them are hysterical. A particular bedroom montage cracked everyone up, and by the time we got to the episode set in an STD clinic I was in tears, I was laughing so hard. Be prepared for heartbreak, though, as some relationships inevitably falter and fall apart.
After the screening, Kit said he was thrilled about people’s reactions. “I’m really excited to have this response from everybody, and to go back into the editing room and refine it and make sure that we can make it as good as we can possibly make it. That’s always the goal on a microbudget, to get the most that you can out of everything.”
You can screen the entire first season of EastSiders or buy the DVD on their website, and stay tuned for new episodes coming soon.
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