Whatever It Is, Watch It
BY MICHAEL SHIREY | Still not over “The Outs?” Well now you don’t have to be. Adam Goldman and Rascal Department, the creative team behind the critically acclaimed web series, are back. “Whatever This Is,” their new web series about getting it together — professionally speaking — asks the hard question that every New Yorker has faced at one time or another: How long do you have to hate what you do before you get to do what you love?
Fans of “The Outs” will no doubt recognize a few familiar faces. Sasha Winters, Hunter Canning, and Tommy Heleringer (Oona, Jack, and Scruffy in that earlier series, respectively) return, alongside newcomers Dylan Marron, Madeline Wise, and Ross Hamman. The show will also feature other guest appearances, including the return of Alan Cumming, who played a meta-version of himself in “The Outs.”
“Outs” creator returns with new series about the reality of making it in New York
The pilot episode of “Whatever This Is,” titled “Reality,” begins with a production crew, Sam (Canning), Ari (Marron), Tobi (Heleringer), Dana (Winters), and Oscar (Hamman), filming a reality-TV pilot, “Housewives of the Upper East Side.” The show’s star, drunk housewife Donna (an over the top Lusia Strus), babbles on as the crew feeds her lines about an unruly dog. The scene wraps with the director and would-be star throwing a slew of insults at the crew, leaving them — and anyone in the audience who has ever had a sucky entry-level job — to question their employment.
Jump to Lisa (Wise), an unemployed teacher and Sam’s girlfriend, struggling to pay for her groceries with help from a good Samaritan. Groceries acquired, Lisa, along with roommates Sam and Ari, enjoy their poor man’s meal, all the while looking despairingly at their rent jar, which is of course short. Sam remains hopeful — they should make enough money off the next day’s shoot to pay rent and even go see a movie.
“Whatever This Is’” wastes no time as it delves into the harsh truth that is survival in New York. At one point, Oscar, who leads the production crew, asks Sam if he knows just how many other hopefuls there are waiting for the chance to take his place. You don’t have to work in film to be able to relate to that daunting fact of life. In another scene, Lisa embarrassingly is reduced to searching for change in order to tip a barista at a café.
Just like on “The Outs,” good writing clearly counts for something here. In fact, it counts for everything. “Whatever This Is” lays out plenty of groundwork and well-rounded characters. A hungover Donna shocks Ari (and viewers) when she bribes him into a moment of honesty. The show also drops plenty of hints for future story lines to keep viewers hooked (and get last minute Kickstarter pledges). All this in an uninterrupted 30-minute episode. In other words, definitely worth watching.
To fund “Whatever This Is,” Goldman returned to Kickstarter, asking for a seemingly steep $165,000. But Goldman justified the high goal, saying that, unlike “The Outs,” he wanted to actually pay the actors and crew for their work. Ya know, like a real job. Goldman’s Kickstarter was successfully funded hours before closing, with a total of over $170,000 from more than 2,000 backers.
The first episode premiered July 30 at a sold-out event at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, a mere five days before the Kickstarter deadline. The episode went live on the show’s website the following day.
WHATEVER THIS IS | Episode 1: “Reality” | Directed by Adam Goldman and Rascal Department | whateverthisis.com