Television is undoubtedly changing. With the proliferation of streaming services and web series, the way we consume tv shows is practically unrecognizable from 10 years ago. In this age, when an episode of the Real Housewives seems soapier and more unbelievable than Days of Our Lives, the once sacred soap opera is losing its cult status.
Dropping the Soap, made by and starring Jane Lynch, Paul Witten, Mandy Fabian and Kate Mines, follows the cast of a fledgling soap opera as they each try to figure out how they will survive in a world which no longer seems to need their art form. When their show hires a new tough-as-nails executive producer, played by the inimitable Lynch, tensions run high. The uproarious new web series premiered today on gay streaming service Dekkoo and is now available on Roku, iTunes and Google Play.
We caught up with Lynch, whose characters we love to hate, to talk about the new series and importance of passion projects.
OUT: How did you get involved with Dropping the Soap?
Jane Lynch: Paul Witten, who is one of the co-creators along with Mandy Fabian and Kate Mines, and I had been friends for quite a while and they created a few episodes on their own. I saw it and thought, "This is fantastic, [but] let's make this bigger." They decided not to release those episodes until we made it into 10 six-minute episodes. We got some money to do it... We did a round of going to different production companies and we didn’t get any deals, so we decided to do it ourselves and we’re streaming it on Dekkoo. We were thrilled they were our first get.
What about the show's concept were you drawn to?
I think it’s just a great workplace comedy. It’s about a really interesting subject; soap operas have lost their glow and their shine. All of us growing up loved soap operas. I was an All My Children fan, and I watched General Hospital every single day. It’s definitely a form that is no longer as relevant as it was back then. It’s almost as if stay-at-home moms don’t exist anymore. It’s really hard to keep them on the air, so this is about a bunch of people who are fighting for their lives to stay relevant.
The characters in Dropping the Soap are relatable because they're fighting for this "dying art," but they’re also pretty despicable at the same time. You’ve worked on a lot of projects where a center of conflict is a battle of egos—is that a theme you’re particularly drawn to?
I guess that’s what I’m really drawn to and you put it in a really good way. I’m fascinated by people who are ego-driven like that and have such thin skin that they need to be mean and competitive. That’s definitely the character I’m playing. She wants everybody to be afraid of her. She wants to take this thing over; she does not want to be opposed and doesn’t that sound a lot like Sue Sylvester?
Sue Sylvester or it sounds like you’re getting a little political here?
(Laughs) It kind of sounds like a certain person in the White House, right now. Absolutely, that kind of ego-mania that's all about winning more than anything else. And you’ll do anything, at all costs, to come out looking like a winner.
Is this a format you’re enjoying working in?
We did this on our own nickel; we didn’t pay for ourselves; we actually had someone who gave us the money to do it and it was just a wonderful thing that we got that, because we wouldn’t have been able to do it without her. So we did it fast and furious and no one got rich doing this; we all got $100 a day. We got people like Jillian Armenante, John Michael Higgins and a bunch of other people that you’ll recognize. We gave them a hundred bucks and we worked our asses off for two weeks to do all these episodes.
It’s funny, you guys are almost as scrappy as the characters on the show.
(Laughs) In fact it resembles it very much. Soap operas are shot really fast, with people not even looking at their lines, especially the older actors have to have cue cards.
Did anything surprise you in the making of the show?
I hadn’t worked with any of these people before. Paul [Witten] and I had been friends for a long time, but it was the first time he and I worked together. I was, I guess not surprised, but it was such a professional set-up. I thought it ended up looking so beautiful [and] it was shot really well—it was lit really well. And the writing, I loved the writing from the get-go, I thought it was fantastic. Everybody showed up with their own spin on everything; if we had more money maybe it wouldn’t have been as good (laughs).
Do you have a favorite moment from the process?
I love when Paul, anytime he plays his character Julian, he does it with such commitment; I love the opening scene with Missi Pyle where Missi is kind of being a crappy actress and he’s just trying to stay professional; And I love when she runs up to him and says, "Did you get my email?" and he says "I’m sorry, I don’t support Cabaret." (Laughs) That’s one of my favorite lines.
Why is this project important right now?
I never go into anything because it’s important to make. You kind of find yourself with a bunch of people and you go, “Let’s do this.” You hope that it turns into something that people go, “Oh, let’s watch this, it’s important." I don’t know that it’s important as much as it’s really good clean, Christian fun (laughs).
You seem like a sincere, good-natured person, but you must have some juicy behind-the-scenes information.
Oh god there’s none. It’s just a bunch of people having fun who really love each other. At least we love each other for the day (laughs). You know how that is when you get together with a bunch of people to make something, a passion project, or even a project where everybody is being well paid, you show up and you do your best and everybody is working together, so there’s really no shenanigans happening.
Do you have a dog?
I do, she’s walking around right now trying to—she’s half-blind—trying to figure out how to get on the couch with me. Olivia. Olivia is a Ihasa Apso. She’s 17 years old, one eye and almost completely deaf and has three teeth.
Olivia? As in the same name your character on Dropping the Soap?
Yeah, Olivia Vanderstein, that’s how Paul came up with it (laughs).
So one might infer that your character on the show is a bit of a b-i-t-c-h?
Indeed. You would be correct in that inference.