Kaitlyn Alexander – Couple-ish
By: Kathryn Trammell
Q) What did you learn from creating “Couple-ish” Season One that you maybe carried over or changed for Season Two?
A) There are a lot of things I learned form Season One. I think the biggest was what it takes to make a show budget wise. We learned a lot from the first season. That carried over to the crowdfunding. In terms of writing it is a lot more challenging to write for a web series. So, this season we focused on connecting the story arcs and making them very, very clear. So, I think what people can look forward to this season is that everything is a lot more developed and a lot less on having a cliffhanger at the end of each episode and just following these people in their lives while you’re watching it unfold. So, we focused less on cliffhangers and making it more full stories.
Q) Dee and all the characters are multifaceted. How did you focus on extending that into Season Two?
A) Each of the characters had a lot of room to grow at the end of Season One. We tried to make them realistic and flawed. No one is perfect, specifically none of the characters are. [laughs] This season they learn a lot and grow as characters. I think that was a huge part of developing the characters this season. Hey know they aren’t perfect so what are they going to try to do to be better people and are they successful in that or it could all fall to pieces.
Q) As you continue to create your character Dee, what did you learn about yourself?
A) [laughs] Dee is like the opposite of me as a person. They are abrasive and not a good person, I would say. Last season when I was writing it I was like, “They’re an asshole. What am I going to do to make this person redeemable?” [laughs] So, this season I wanted to unwrap why they were the way they were. They were in shambles last season and this season it is unwrapping who they used to be before their life was in shambles. You start to really see the kind of person they really are. They are repairing themselves. That’s a lot. I learned a lot from writing them and playing them. I learned I’m not like them, which is good.
Q) It seems like everything is going to intensify this season. Dee sets Rachel up to work at their mom’s flower shop. How will that further divide or strain Dee and their sister’s relationship?
A) I think it is questionable. Dee and Amy – I really wanted to write a good sibling dynamic because you don’t see that on TV. It’s something I know because I have siblings. I know when you get into a really big fight with your family or siblings it takes a lot to get over that. It’s not like fighting with a partner or a friend. It’s a special kind of everyone needing to take a break. Sometimes things repair themselves and sometimes things take a very long time. You don’t know why it is happening, but it is. So, I think it is a good thing that Rachel (Sharon Belle) is working at the flower shop for Dee because Rachel is good at fighting for Dee with their mom. So, I did want to explore that. I do think it’s not good for Amy (Mercedes Morris). It’s one of those situations where one character benefits and another might not.
Q) It also seems like Rachel might be harboring real feelings for Dee, but might not want to cross that line from turning something fake into something that might be real. What struggles will we see Rachel face this season when it comes to her feelings for Dee?
A) That’s a good question. I think the most I can say on this is you might be right. You might be wrong. I think whatever is going on with Dee puts a lot of things in perspective for Rachel. That’s what I’ll say.
Q) You added a few new characters this season. How do you balance the old with the new in terms of adding the new characters?
A) I think they only added Cal in because Diana Chrisman who plays Jamie was in it very briefly last season. She was a bartender at the bar where Rachel worked. I think we saw her twice very briefly. I wanted to expand on her character and Diana is very interesting so I wanted to see what she could do. Bringing Cal in was very easy because she has worked at Mrs. Warson’s flower shop since she was sixteen years old so she is very close with Mrs. Warson. She is very close with Amy too, but not with Dee because Dee never visits their mom’s flower shop. So, in terms of mixing old with the new she has kind of always been there just in the shadows and we never really met her before. So, it was not hard to incorporate her. I think she adds a nice little layer.
Q) The chemistry between the actors impeccable, especially in the episodes of Rachel and Dee’s vlog. How much of those moments are scripted and how much are ad lib reflections of the chemistry the cast has with one another?
A) I’ll be honest, most of it is scripted. I think a lot of it is that Sharon [Belle] and I are very, very close in real life so we play off of it really well. Some of the stuff that comes out in the vlogs is us playing off one another. So, there is genuine interaction happening. Sometimes we’ll be bad with lines (me in particular) and I’ll forget what I’m saying so I’ll say something along the lines of what I was supposed to say and we’ll keep going. Most of it is scripted.
Q) I liked the one especially where Amy has you running around the room to try to find things that represent the senses.
A) That one was completely improvised.
Q) The relationship you do have with Sharon when working through fictional storylines that are intense and strained, how do you make sure the relationship between Dee and Rachel doesn’t affect the relationship between Kaitlyn and Sharon or any relationships you have with the cast?
A) I think we’re all pretty good at separating yourselves from our characters. When there are really intense scenes we always talk it through, no matter who it is with. We do a couple runs to figure out where the other person is coming from in situations, especially since scenes went in completely different directions when we were acting them out. Just the way it was read by an actor was different, amazing and choices I have never seen. Sometimes it can get super intense and I think it is about talking it through beforehand and making sure everyone is okay with what is going on. Then, afterwards it is hugs and making sure everyone is cool. That’s just how we are. It’s like, “Sweet, let’s just move on.”
Q) Who is in charge of writing the subtitles for the show?
A) That is me. [laughs]
Q) The parenthetical non dialogue parts of the subtitles I have seen you refer to them as “jokes.” The first few times I saw them I really thought they added an in-depth commentary to certain scenes. They are so quick, too. Did you write those subtitles specifically with the intent of providing this commentary?
A) I basically write the subtitles as the episode is uploaded. I write them before the episode is posted. None of it is planned. It is kind of like whatever happens, happens. It probably gives a lot of insight into how I write my scripts because the commentary would be in the description of the script, which I will often interject in the scripts which is very similar to the commentary. So, it’s very unintentional.
Q) Congratulations on such an incredible fundraising campaign!
A) I was not expecting it was going to go that high. I think I told everyone, “Don’t expect this season to happen. We’re asking for a lot and I really hope it will come through, but don’t get your hopes up.” When it got funded I was like, “Uhh…what?! Okay! This is awesome!”
Q) I know you made the one video after “Carmilla” ended and spoke about it at some panels. You seemed very done. You weren’t sure you were going to have a place anymore in this web series genre. After you saw the success of the Crowdfunding campaign what does it mean to you to have so many support the series you created when making “Couple-ish?”
A) It’s incredible! I definitely thought whatever this has been for the last few years is coming to an end. It has been a blessing, but I’m pretty sure this is it. When I realized the crowdfunding was happening and people wanted to hear more of the story and it wasn’t over for me I got really emotional about it. It’s very hard to be a non-binary actor and do what everybody does as an actor in the industry. There are a not a lot of roles out there for me. Making a mark is really, really difficult so I knew when this was done that I was probably done. I had to come to terms with that and realizing it’s not done yet your story isn’t over yet. The stories you want to tell people still want to hear – it feels really, really good.
Q) It’s really rare for queer characters to be created by queer people and be portrayed by queer people. Can you speak a bit about this kind of representation which is representation of queer and other marginalized people behind the scenes as well as on the screen?
A) It is really important. I know that I struggled a lot when I was growing up. The queer romances I saw on screen where people who stood up for the queer community, but not part of it. So, there was always this disconnect and feeling like who I wasn’t really valid because it was just someone putting on a role. That’s what it really felt like for me. Being a part of something and playing characters that actually I relate to and casting people who relate to their characters – actually having that queer voice coming from an authentic place is so important to me because it was something I really needed as a kid. I think it would have helped me feel more confident that who I was was really valid, even more than just seeing a story on screen. We know what it is like. We know that our voice is telling stories from a true place and I think that is super rare, but also super important.
Q) What role do you see web series and nontraditional media playing in queer content in the future?
A) I think web series have always been a really good place because it is not beholden to the rules of the TV networks and someone telling you that you can’t put it on screen. You are actually in control of the story you are telling, which is so much not the case in traditional media. I think that it might become the place to feel like your stories are being told. There are more and more queer stories going out there, which is amazing. Maybe one day the traditional media will see what is happening online and saying, “Oh, we want in on that! What are you guys doing that we’re not?” I don’t know that day is coming very soon.
Q) Many queer people have found a role model and themselves in you, specifically, and the characters you portray. For those who relate to the scene where Dee’s parents actively mis-gender them in front of their partner and friends, what advice would you give to the people who have gone through situations similar to that or are maybe afraid of coming out because they don’t want to go through situations like that?
A) That feeling is totally valid. You saying I’m a role model and all of that stuff doesn’t really compute with my head. So, I’m also like, “Ah!” I hear it and I think, “I’m just a person and I don’t know if I’m qualified to give advice.” I’m happy to discuss my situation though. There is always going to be validity in being safe in your circumstances. Sometimes it feels like there is a lot of pressure to come out and be honest with everyone, but I do feel you have to be cognizant of the situation you are in and realize you have to be safe. You can be yourself and be safe and wait for those moments where you can be yourself and be okay. That parent scene specifically was semi based off of something that actually happened with my parents who just didn’t understand when I came out as non-binary and were just having a very tough time. I thought we were never going to speak ever again. But I gave them time and I didn’t back down. I told them how I was feeling. I opened a discussion and I let them ask uncomfortable questions. I gave them basically like a year and a half and they are really accepting now. They really try. They struggle with the pronouns, but they try. I think it’s a lot about sometimes will surprise you and sometimes people won’t, but you have to be patient because sometimes people just don’t have the education you do growing up online about these things. It just depends on your situation. In mind, being patient really worked.
Q) Is there anything else you want to be sure fans know about this season of “Couple-ish?”
A) I think the one thing I want to add that is super important that has been confusing people has to do directly with the show. This season though there is commentary in some of the English captions there is going to be a second non-filled with captions in English Canada settings for people who find the captions and commentary distracting. They will have very clear, very straightforward captions for them to work with. That’s one of the things I heard last season from a lot of people that they wanted changed.