The Better Half: New Web Series Offers Slice of Life Alternative to The L Word
By Shannon Liao
Lindsay Hicks (left) and Amy Jackson Lewis | Photo by Katharine Grey
Created by Christine Ng and Leyla Perez, a lesbian couple, and starring real-life couple Lindsay Hicks and Amy Jackson Lewis (pictured above), The Better Half is a comedy web series on Pivot TV about the headaches of a long-term relationship that’s grown a little “too comfortable.”
“Everything is from real life," Lewis tells Out. When writing for the show, she and Hicks like to draw from their own life experiences. "But some of it’s made a little bit heightened, a little bit sillier, more dynamic, more ridiculous.”
For instance, one of the episodes features the notorious cayenne pepper and lemon juice fast. Although neither she nor Hicks have tried the fast, Lewis jokes about it, “Everyone I know who’s ever done that has been like, oh, it feels so good. And then like, as soon as it’s over, they’re smoking cigarettes and having a burger and gained like twenty pounds back and it’s just like, what is the point? To tell people you’re doing a cleanse?”
The five-to-10 minute episodes go by quick, leaving the audience looking forward to more. While it’s easy to compare a show about lesbians to The L Word, Lewis cites It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and 30 Rock as two series she looks up to. “We’re not trying to be The L Word. We’re just a slice of life.”
Out: How did you come up with the idea for the show?
Ng: [Leyla Perez, girlfriend and co-creator, and I] thought, what should we make that’s not out there that people want to see? And we’ve each been in relationships before and currently and there’s not really much that we can each relate to as a lesbian. There are shows that are LGBT oriented and they’re all very niche or stereotyped in a way. There are some people like that but I don’t think that represents who I am or who we are. And so we were like, hey, let’s just make a show about us. Let’s just make a show about what we know. And that’s what a lot of people have told me, stick to what you know.
We were like there needs to a lot of humor in there, so that’s kind of where it started. We had our two main actors and it was very small and intimate so we had it revolve around their relationship in this apartment and meeting friends or showing some flashbacks so that you get the scope of it through the years.
Like the flashback in the subway when they first meet. Lindsay is this sorority sister while Amy channels angst and cool.
Exactly, like the subway scene. We were like, okay let’s do something really silly and really, in terms of wardrobe, make them someone else. And then Lindsay came up with this great idea and it just flowed.
Because it’s just so not them in a way? So that it’s very comical and funny, and just the way they styled themselves was hilarious, so we were like let’s take it to the subway because sometimes you meet people in the subway or you meet them in a bar. You know, it’s New York, you could really meet people anywhere.
You talked about subverting the many lesbian stereotypes. When you’re developing a script for the show, what goes into that?
Originally, we were like, “Let’s have a couple that have been together for a while and experience different things to spice up their relationship.” So that’s really where it started.
We wanted the show to be about a couple that’s stayed together for a while because that’s definitely something that you don’t see often. It’s always this “coming out story” or the “first love where you realize you’re gay story” and not that those aren’t great stories. That story’s been told in so many great ways, we wanted really wanted to hone in on something that we hadn’t seen before, something that we all felt true to. So we would take stuff from our everyday life.
Every couple goes through that phase where they just never leave the house. And every couple also goes through the, you know, we should really go see our friends, stop the TV, stop the Netflix, and go out. So that’s where the [first] episode really started.
So we knew we had a couple that wanted to go out but couldn’t make it out there. And then Amy wakes up and she’s like hey, there’s a problem here. So now we have a conflict for the story and the problem is that we’re too comfortable, we don’t do anything anymore. So then it was about spicing it up. So it very easily gave us a narrative to follow through of like episode two where we realize there’s a problem and then we can address it with flashbacks and then present a situation where there’s excitement of them walking into the karaoke bar.
So, how did the team come together? How did you find Amy and Lindsay to be the actors?
When we started, we really all wanted it to be a super collaborative process. And I’ve worked with Lindsay before, so I gave her a call and was like, “Hey, what are you up to? Do you want to make something? Let’s just make a series. I don’t know what yet, but let’s come together and I know, we’ll come up with something great.” And we invited Lindsay over for brunch, and she brought Amy who she was seeing at the time, and so we met Amy and were like, “Oh, this is great, the four of us. We have all the elements we’ll need. I can shoot, Leyla can direct, Leyla and I can produce, you girls, Lindsay can write, I know she can write, and you guys have great chemistry. I think between the four of us, it can be really amazing.” And that’s really what we did.
The Better Half airs Wednesdays 6 pm PT/9 pm ET on PIVOT. Check for additional airings on TheBetterHalfSeries.com . Watch the trailer below