Monday 27th March 2017,
Televisual

‘We Are With The Band’: Lampooning Hipsters and Coming of Age As Women

In case you didn’t notice, I have been on a gender/film kick the past week — from Sex and the City 2 to independent cinema — so I was particularly excited with the creators of We Are With The Band contacted me to remind me the first season of their web series was coming to a close. (UPDATE: Check out this new site about web series for women).

We Are With The Band, distributed through Koldcast and now also Strike TV, is the next in a growing list of hipster-mocking properties, both in the web series space — The Burg, Young American Bodies, Brooklyn is for Lovers — and on television — can’t wait for Ellen Page’s Stich N’ Bitch! But from our conversation, it became apparent creators Vivian Kerr and Heleya de Barros had a more important agenda than joining the years-long campaign against hipsterdom.

“We both love comedy, and we both especially love television comedy and sitcom writing…Those roles that we wanted to play weren’t readily available to us,” said Kerr, referring to the years the two spent auditioning in Hollywood.

“You’re never in the lead role as the woman. You’re always the girlfriend, or the girl next door, or playing the straight girl…So this was such a great opportunity to write ourselves as the lead comedy,” de Barros added.

Both Kerr and de Barros attended USC, studying and working in theatre. Primarily identifying as actors, they also directed and produced theatre, but their love for television and frustration with the glacial pace of traditional media led them to the web.

“People are just going around the system and decided that they’re just going to make a project to showcase themselves. We decided to stop waiting for roles that would showcase us,” Kerr said, remarking on how the production gap has closed significantly. “It so much more affordable now to make a high quality show that looks just as good as the shows on television.”

Kingmakers Kickstarter and Koldcast

It still takes money, though. So the two went to Kickstarter, the microloan site (currently the starting place of Diaspora, the Facebook alternative) and used social networks to raise money for their first season, a plan we’ve seen elsewhere in the space (The Guild). It worked. They raised more cash than expected, allowing them to rent nicer equipment for sound and video. Now the two say they are talking tocompanies to find sponsorship for a second season while also looking to mobile distribution with FunLittleMovies.

We Are With The Band follows the misadventures of Elle and Marci as the bar hop around Silverlake and Los Angeles’ hipster party community. The idea for show came from the real lives of its creators, who after graduation became increasingly interested in the people they met at local concerts. Partly influenced by British shows like Absolutely Fabulous, the creators wanted to paint an exaggerated picture of two girls trying to grow up and still have fun.

“While these girls are just extremely ridiculous, the heart of and soul of them is that they’re in their 20s and have no idea what they’re doing with their lives, which I think is a story everyone can relate to,” de Barros said.

This comedic-existential crisis has a feminist bent to it. A lot of mainstream television shows and films, even those with female leads (and writers) still feature female protagonists focused on getting a relationship. Fewer shows have zany female characters like The Office‘s Dwight, Kerr said. We Are With The Band has its sexploits, but the duo, particularly Marci, have professional and personal struggles as well.

“There really aren’t female clowns on teleivision, so I think that’s kind of what we wanted to do,” said Kerr, citing Parks and Recreation‘s Amy Poehler as a rare example. “In our show they’re not looking for boyfriends – well maybe they’re kind of looking for boyfriends — but they’re mainly just looking for what the fuck they’re doing with they’re lives.”

We Are With The Band differentiates itself from other web series through its attention to comedic detail, from its great costume designs — all bright colors and way too much pattern — to its whimsical flourishes, like MGMT ringtones.

You can watch the entire first season on its website, WeAreWithTheBandShow.com.

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About The Author

Aymar Jean Christian is assistant professor of communication at Northwestern University. He writes about media and society for a number of publications. For more information, click the "About" tab at the top of the page.

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