Out writer/actor Rebecca Drysdale has written on The Big Gay Sketch Show and Key and Peele, and she’s also behind last night’s super gay episode of Weird Loners. She co-wrote “We’re Here. We’re Weird. Get Used to Us.” with Laura Valdivia, and talked with us about how the bisexual/lesbian storylines came up in the writers’ room.
AfterEllen.com: How did the idea for this very gay episode originally come up? What was the impetus?
Rebecca Drysdale: We wanted the story to be about Stosh and Caryn, so we created this sort of person they could fight—use and this person they could kind of fight over when they’re really fighting for each other, fighting with each other. So the sexuality thing ultimately came up as a necessary thing where it’s really about Stosh and Caryn and wanted to create as much as you can, in network television, this universe most of us now live in, at least in New York City, where people date women and they date men and the thing isn’t about that. It’s not like, “Oh shit, what if I’m gay?” It’s really about whatever the show’s about, which is beef between Stosh and Caryn and sort of using this to get back at each other. Rather than one of these character is having a sexuality crisis. It’s not about that—it’s about the relationships that have already been established in the show.
The whole point is that if there’s ever like a gay episode of a TV show it’s always about whether someone’s gay or not and I feel like we’ve seen that. If this is an element of this episode, you need to be able to answer the question why is this an element of this episode and not just doing a “gay” episode of a show. In this episode, through many, many, many writes and rewrites and rewrites, we wanted to have a conversation about this that we haven’t entirely heard before. We want this to still be about the characters on the show and not about, like, is Caryn gay? No, Stosh and Caryn are in this fucked up will-they-won’t-they relationship and it’s yet another thing that they use to get on each other’s nerves or whatever. There’s never a moment where Caryn’s, like, flipping out over how gross it’s going to be to make out with a girl. It’s not about her and the girl; it’s about her and Stosh. And, you know, Zara had dated that girl before and there’s never like some big, “Oh my god, you dated a woman!?” It’s like, “Oh yeah you dated that woman and so therefore you know she’s great,” and Zara being like, “Yeah, she’s great.”
In the world that I certainly live in where everybody just kind of dates a guy or dates a girl and it’s not the thing to talk about. On network television, no matter what you do, it’s going to seem like it’s that. But, you know, if you are sitting at the table and hearing the 60 conversations leading up to what ends up being written, those conversations have to do with, “I don’t need to see another episode where someone comes out and their big fucking moment of realizing they’re gay.” I don’t need to see another episode where someone’s having some crisis or whatever.
And then the parts with Eric in the lesbian bar is more kind of like—it mostly comes from me living in New York and going to a million lesbian bars and saying “That dude looks like a lot of women I know!” [laughs] It’s not that far off and it wasn’t even a joke. It’s just like, “Yeah, that dude looks like a dyke!” And so that became a part of the—I don’t know, it’s kind of peppered in there as a kind of playful thing.
No, officially it was not my idea to do a gay episode. I don’t know if I would ever do that. But when you have a gay person in the room they’re like, “Why don’t you write the gay episode?” So my friend Laura and I did. But I think a big effort was made to make sure this was still about Stosh and Caryn and their relationship. And in a world where women are dating women as easily as they’re dating men, we can create a love triangle that you probably could not have on TV 10 years ago or whatever. I think that was the thing for us was to keep it refreshing in that way. You see them kiss, but it’s not this big fat Dawson’s Creek moment with the music and everything else in the world stops. It’s like she’s dating the same girl as Stosh.
AE: This is the first episode we hear anything about Zara being bisexual. Was that planned that way?
RD: It wasn’t like we wrote four episodes and then made this decision. We had written all the episodes and we talked about whether or not we should put that in another episode, like, “Do we need to plant that somewhere else that Zara dated women?” or whatever. And we kind of decided not to and just have it be a non-deal. And that was actually an act of choice to just be like “You dated her” in a way that, at least for me, my world kind of operates. With that, we didn’t want to make it a thing, so we made it as much a of a non-thing as we could. And again, to shine a light that this is being used to explore Stosh and Caryn’s relationship and not like, “And now Weird Loners talks about sexuality!”
We just wanted to keep it as much of not-what-that’s-about as possible. My whole thing in the room kept being if we’re doing a gay episode, there has to be a reason we’re doing it and I think ultimately one of the reasons was because we can do an episode that’s a gay episode that isn’t a “gay episode.”
AE: It makes a difference to have a gay woman in the writers room, like how Stosh isn’t creepy about Caryn and April’s relationship, and she’s not weirded out about dating a woman.
RD: Stosh is like “So you’re bi, great” so he knows he can get in there, not because he’s like, “I’m going to watch you guys and jerk off!” He’s ultimately participating in a world—especially in New York—that’s a little closer to what the world is actually like. And Weird Loners is a world a little closer to the what the world should be like. Stosh is like “I’m interested in her, not in lesbians having sex.” And there were things in the room being pitched that I’d be like “Nope, nope.” Ideas would be pitched and I’d say, “Nope, I’ve seen that” or “Nope, it’s the wrong way to go” or “We’re saying the opposite thing we want to be saying.” Hopefully it reads like that and not that we’re doing it for the sake of doing it. There was a lot of discussion on how we wanted to approach it.
AE: How do you think people will feel about Eric’s being mistaken for a lesbian by other women?
RD: I am sure some people will be upset about it. I’m sure there will be Tumblrs or whatever the hell. But there is sort of that thing: “Well a lesbian wrote it.” And when you’re in a writers room you know they’re having me write this because there’s a certain amount of permission that goes along with covering your ass: “Well, a lesbian wrote it!” But at the same time, I did write it and I did think it was funny and I brought it up in the room. I was like, “That guy looks just like my friend Sandra.”
I’m sure some people will have a problem with it but it’s also kind of one of those things where it’s a network television show and hopefully more good is in there than the harm. Also, for a new show, having there be a dialogue about it is great. And if we did swing and miss, then that’s something we can learn from for next season but at least we didn’t shy away from it. It didn’t feel to me like a gay joke. It felt more like a comedy of errors, like old-timey comedy misunderstanding kind of style thing.
And also like, I was on set—you were on set—I was on set and it was a room full of lesbians. And I think most of the people in that room felt like it was a funny thing and not an offensive thing. I think if people see something that is vaguely in the area of their life, the thing to do in this age of social media is to get pissed off. A lot of times people don’t even stop and think about what they’re actually upset about. I’m sure that will happen.
My hope is that what you notice are the things that stick out: Stosh not being creepy about it and Caryn not being squeamish about it and it just being a secondary thing. This April character having nothing to do with sexuality but having more to do with the Stosh and Caryn relationship.
AE: What’s the likelihood of Zara getting into a relationship with a woman or dating a woman if the show gets picked up for Season 2?
RD: Well, Zara’s very fly by the seat of her pants. I would imagine that the chances are equal. I think we would see her getting dropped off from a date with a guy or a woman equally, probably. I think she’s not a relationship person; we learned that. I think it’d be dealt with in the same way, as a very background thing. This week she’s leaving a girl’s apartment, next week she’s leaving a guy’s apartment. For me, that’s what I would enjoy because there’s so many people that I know that date women and men equally and don’t come home and make a big deal about it. My hope is Zara can kind of do that and when it does come up on the show, it comes up in a sort of very, “It’s New York City and everyone’s just trying to meet the right person.” It doesn’t matter that much anymore, certainly for someone like Zara who is a kind of commitment phone artist whack job anyway.
You can watch the full episode of “We’re Here. We’re Weird. Get Used to It.” on Fox. Follow Rebecca Drysdale on Twitter @beckdrys