The best thing about the increasing accessibility of film and TV production equipment is the opportunity for people to tell stories outside the mainstream media establishment. For queers, this has meant the ascendancy of the web series, a format now familiar to any scourer of YouTube. One of the newest additions to the genre is Starting From Now, an Australian serial that premiered last week.
The premise: Steph, a sweet but naïve lesbian, moves to Sydney to pursue a career in graphic design. Within five minutes of her arrival, she meets Darcy, who is looking very Shane today, and all days. They have an instant connection, aided by the fact that they meet on the rainbow-tiled entrance to a gay bar, and Steph is immediately like, “So should we get coffee which will lead to drinks which will lead to marriage which will lead to our ashes being scattered off the same clifftop?” And Darcy is like “Raincheck.” So Steph goes to her friend Kristen’s place, where she is staying, only to find that (GASP!) Kristen’s girlfriend is the same woman with whom Steph just fell in Insta-love. Inappropriate shoulder-touching and melancholy gazing ensue.
I’m a sucker for a good love triangle, and I fully endorse and all bad decisions that are sure to result from this living situation. Also, I like the questions the show seems to be posing about what to do when one leaves youth for adulthood and is suddenly forced to make some serious decisions about career, family, and relationships. It’s nice to see the subject matter of Girls taken on by characters you are slightly less inclined to strangle.
Starting From Now does have some problems plaguing it. First and most glaringly, the sound design is so messy my girlfriend overheard me watching and asked if I was watching porn. Maybe we’ve just been spoiled by years of high-quality programming, but you just can’t get away with using the built-in mic in your camera anymore. Invest in some better audio equipment and viewers can invest in the story, free from distracting background noise. Also, there is one scene in which Steph and Darcy awkwardly side-step each other outside a bathroom, and WHY IS STEPH WRAPPED IN A TOWEL WHEN HER HAIR IS TOTALLY DRY. It makes no sense. Hopefully these are just growing pains that the creators will fix as the series goes on. Also, as a former film student, I’m all too familiar with what it’s like to be working on borrowed time and with virtually no budget, so I try to be generous with my judgments.
In addition to the two episodes, the series also has brief character interviews, which are an illuminating and encouraging look at the skills of the actors involved.