Everything You Need to Know About the New Web Series from the Creators of Shit Girls Say
In 2011, a web series called Shit Girls Say took over the internet for a solid year and a half. The viral sensation was so potent that copy cats started to prowl all over the web and spin offs such as Shit New Age Girls Say, Shit Italian Moms Say, Shit Brides Say, Shit Cats Say and Shit Liza Minnelli Says began to clog up our feeds faster than a half-baked election cycle. Taking everyday conversation (declarations such as “Twinsies!” and questions like “Was I super annoying last night?” or “Am I Hungry?”), Canada’s own Graydon Shepard donned a wig, cardigan and heels and spewed the honest-yet-hysterical truth in quick minute bites of screen time. Five years have passed since Sheppard—and his writing partner, Kyle Humphrey—grabbed fame by the horns and since then the duo have been busy creating a series that means to poke fun of stereotypes. This time it is for a 10-episode series for the CBC called Coming In and the subjects revolve around gay and heterosexual clichés (the series kicked off on this week). To give us a little taste of their latest work, Sheppard and Humphrey chatted with Features Editor Elio Iannacci on their new series, Coming In, and opened up on what their next steps are for Shit Girls Say.
Congratulations on Coming In. What is most interesting and funny is the way you deal with gay conversion therapy groups. I hate to laugh at those scenes but it beats crying at the reality of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence standing by them. Tell me about the resources you pulled from?
Graydon: I’d seen a documentary about a conversion camp. The members were very radical, religious guys who wanted to suppress their gayness by going out into the woods together. We just wanted to make it clear that we don’t think that these groups work at all or that they’re good for anyone who joins. They’re inherently harmful and bad. We wanted to make that as clear as possible with our fictional group and make the members very clearly gay. We pushed that idea to the limits for creative purposes.
What would you consider the funniest scene in the series so far?
Kyle: I think my favourite ones are with the ex-gays. We had so much fun rehearsing that scene and then filming it. The actors really went to town and ran with it.
Graydon: I think my favourite scene is between Margot and Todd when he secretly moves into Margot’s place and they have a fight about role-playing Pretty Woman.
What’s been the most obscure or strange praise you’ve received from Shit Girls Say?
Graydon: One of our favourite things was a spinoff somebody did which was “Shit Sri Lankan Mothers Say”. It was something you’d never think would happen. We got published in a Spanish newspaper!
Do you know the numbers of how far-reaching it was in terms of today or this year?
Graydon: I think at the time there were around 1000 spinoffs of it. The Shit Girls Say videos that we’ve done have had more than a 100-million views overall.
For your new series, one of the headlines I was read claimed “Digital Series Coming In to Skewer Sexual Identity Stereotypes”. Was that partially the aim?
Kyle: What we really wanted to capture was not just examining gay life and gay sexuality but to go at it while also looking at straight sexuality and explore the relationship between masculinity and femininity. To say we wanted to skewer everything sounds ambitious, but we wanted to explore all those things at the same time.
Graydon: We wanted to look at these topics in a fresh way, sort of like what we did with Shit Girls Say. We looked at those kinds of stereotypes in a new way and that’s what we’re doing here. We’re trying to be modern about it and have a modern, comedic take on things.
How much do your own relationships make it into the script?
Graydon: It’s pretty fictional but we took a few steps from our own coming out stories and applied them to the script. There’s the whole denying it to yourself, then discovering porn on the computer and then being outed by somebody…those are pretty universal things.
Kyle’s The Third and Delaware Fashion Tumblr account is incredible because it goes through almost every major clothing item from the TV series, Roseanne. What would you say is Roseanne’s most memorable outfit for you?
Kyle: The obvious choice is the chicken shirt. It has a legacy on the show because every character ends up wearing it at some point in time. If you’re talking about the most iconic…
…And the most hideous?
Kyle: That was also the most hideous! The funny thing is that there’s also a cow shirt. It’s a very obvious nod to the audience when it was onscreen. I’ve tried to get in touch with her several times but she’s really hard to get ahold of. She’s also always in Hawaii living on her nut farm. I’d love to run into her, sit down, and have a five-minute conversation about it.
Are you worried about sensitivity with the issues you’re tackling? Did you have to censor some of the jokes?
Kyle: The CBC was really great about…their notes were very minimal. They didn’t really ask us to take anything out. There were a couple of small things we pushed back on and might have made some compromises on. One note was about saying “no homo, bro”. We were like, “No! That has to stay in there. That’s how people talk.” It was this discussion. There was a line about “being retarded”. We argued that because Mitchell pushes back and right away says “you can’t say that” it was more of an indication of age and outdated thinking more so than we thought it was funny. It was always a conversation and they were open to hearing what we had to say.
The episode examining Bro culture was spot on. If you could have the ultimate Hollywood bros to hang out with for another episode in the next series, who would they be?
Kyle: Channing Tatum. He’d be perfect. Chris Pratt!
Who would be some ultimate guests that you’d have on the next installment?
Graydon: E.J. Johnson. It’s Magic Johnson’s son. He’s amazing. He’s super fashionable and so fun. He’d be really great.
In terms of other shows kicking around lately like “Looking”, did you watch them? Was it something that was in your periphery? What did you think of a series like that on HBO?
Graydon: I watched all of “Looking”. I think what we wanted to do was reach a wider audience and use comedy more blatantly to tell a story. That’s why we wanted to write Coming In the way we did. I think sometimes what happens with shows like that is that they don’t reach the people that need to be exposed to then. You want people who don’t necessarily understand the coming out process to see this. You want to also have things in there that aren’t just about gay issues. It’s about if a man and woman can be friends. What’s it like to be straight now? [It’s about] across-the-board issues.
What have you found to be the toughest thing about being straight guy in 2016?
Graydon: I think it’s the masculinity. Guys aren’t allowed to cry without being called whatever. It seems to be the topic of the day: toxic masculinity. Hopefully that’s changing.
Is it changing?
Graydon: I think so. Male affection is interesting. That’s something we explored in the show. Straight guys are affectionate with each other and touch each other and wrestle. They have contact with each other. I find that it’s harder for a gay person to be affectionate with a straight guy without fearing that you’re coming on to them. That’s starting to change. Straight guys and gay guys are being a little bit more cool.
The Twitter account for Shit Girls Say is still up and running. What do you look for? I read some of the retweets. They’re just so spot on. What do you look for when you’re retweeting somebody?
Kyle: There’s a specific kind of voice you put on when you say these tweets. We say it back to each other and just evolve every tweet every time we do it. It’s this back and forth before it feels perfect. The most funny and appealing and satisfying ones are the ones that don’t seem that obvious. They seem innocuous. We recently retweeted “I need new boots” which sounds boring but I feel like every girl relates to that feeling.
Graydon: We got some replies to that that were like, “I’m literally shopping for boots right now as I saw this. I hate this.” If you can say it different ways, the more meanings it has, the funnier it can be.
Is Shit Girls Say gone for good? Are you guys going to go on and do another installment of that?
Graydon: She’s always around in our heads. We have a couple more ideas for her.
Watch the trailer for Coming In here: