It’s a Friday night, you and your S.O. have made plans to finally make it out of the house, and maybe even have fun, but you’re both wearing the exact same outfit. The Better Half, a web series created by Leyla Perez and her girlfriend Christine Ng, bites into a morsel of the ins-and-outs of a lez couple. Real-life girlfriends Lindsay Hicks and Amy Jackson Lewis came into the picture to write and star as the leading ladies. Have the hot fires that once burned in those tender, sexy beginnings a romance become comfortable?
Episode One: “Going Out” plays like a scene from the bedroom of just about every lesbian couple I know. Lindsay and Amy must make the sheer attempt to get out of the house for a night of fun, but the comfort (there’s that word again) of Netflix and popcorn is so enticing. There are entire TV series to contend to! The topsy-turvy decision-making process left me in stitches.
Episode Two: “Sunny Side Up” addresses that persisting coziness-concern. In a nutshell, it tackles poop, and karaoke. There’s a flashback to when Amy and Lindsay first met. Amy still wants to rob Lindsay. Isn’t that so cute? (She didn’t really rob her.)
Producer and director Leyla Perez, answered a few burning questions about the creation of the series and the impact she and her crew hope it will have on couples everywhere.
AfterEllen: It seems like all the right pieces came together to make this web series a reality. How did that process unfold? What did some of the conversations sound like when you and your team were considering how to frame the plot and it’s characters?
Leyla Perez: All the right pieces really did come together. My girlfriend, Christine, and I have a production company called The Verb Project and we’ve wanted to make more original content under that banner. Christine knew that she wanted to reach out to Lindsay Hicks, an actor friend of hers, and a seriously funny one at that. Lindsay and her girlfriend Amy Jackson Lewis (formerly of Anyone But Me) brought us an amazing concept about a couple that’s hit a rut. They had some amazing first drafts of scripts, but it was really in a series of story meetings that we had between the four of us that solidified the arc for the batch of episodes you’ll see…We talked about what we wanted to accomplish, the tone that we wanted to convey and who we really wanted these characters to turn into. We wanted it to be more than just a series of punchlines, but a real portrait of a couple struggling to keep the relationship fresh and exciting so that they could spend the rest of their lives together.
AE: What is The Better Half about, and what are some of the messages you hope the audience will come away with?
LP: Ultimately, The Better Half is about a couple going through what I feel like everybody in a relationship eventually goes through: a dry spell. It’s about two people who love each other very much and only want the best for each other. You want your partner to be happy and if the relationship isn’t what it was in the beginning you worry about if they’re happy or not. What we’ve always wanted for this series is for it to speak to everyone—gay, straight, single, and a couple. We want it to be relatable.
AE: The lightness of poking at lesbian relationship clichés is always a big hit. How, if at all, does your series break down some of those clichés? Is there a balance you try to maintain between lightness and broader messages?
LP: Amy and Lindsay really deserve all the credit when it comes to the funny lesbian stuff you see in the series. That scene where they’re getting ready to go out is totally their brainchild and definitely something we all laughed at really hard. I loved all of that stuff, but at the same time we all wanted the show to be more than that. I definitely think that starting at Episode Two you start to see that the series has a lot more substance than the jokes about lesbians. I also think that the series has a lot to say about couples in general and not just lesbian couples. The balance between the funny things and the poignant things is something we try to improve on with each episode, for sure.
AE: Do you think there’s an unspoken feeling that we must redefine some of these clichés? Is there a fear of that blurry line of being best friends and being lovers? Will we learn something in relation to these fears?
LP: Absolutely. I think that’s our biggest goal with this series—to push the envelope with the clichés and try to have something successful that maybe doesn’t rely on them so much. At the end of the day, yes they are lesbians, but they’re people too. However, there are complications that are specific to lesbian relationships and it’s hard to navigate the blurry line, as you call it. I think our series does a good job of confronting these things head on and highlighting the journey that the two of them embark on as they try to make things work. What sets us apart is the honesty and the love and the laughs.
AE: What may surprise us about The Better Half? What has surprised you?
LP: What’s surprised me the most is how people relate to it. I think most people will be surprised at how much they relate to it. It’s easy for a series about a lesbian relationship to become pigeonholed, but a lot of our straight friends have had such a positive response to it. Also, it surprises me that people actually think it’s funny. I’ve always been so insecure about my inability to direct comedy, but everyone says it’s funny so I have to give all the credit for that to Lindsay and Amy.
AE: Is there timeliness for web series? With so many online lesbian-curated streaming sites, have you considered shopping the series to other sites?
LP: I think the fact that there are so many web series out there makes it easier for people to take us seriously and actually watch our show. I remember a few years ago when you said you were doing a web series, people just kind of dismissed it. Now, it’s an art form all on its own, and that is thanks in large part to all of the successful web series out there, including the amazing lesbian-themed ones. Pretty early on, we were approached by PnTTV and we’re now featured on their site. Other than that, we’ve just been trying to spread the word ourselves through our friends and work acquaintances. We just want people to watch it, to get the content out there, and show people what we can do.
Find out more about The Better Half at thebetterhalfseries.com.