Web Series Wednesday – It’s Complicated
By: Kathryn Trammell
This week’s Web Series Wednesday feature is about a cute slice-of-life comedy aptly named It’s Complicated. Its story is a familiar one – a protagonist spins a tangled web of improvised lies that affects the other characters around her until she can no longer keep up with the stories she’s telling – which could easily describe everything from “Pretty Little Liars” to The Twelfth Night. However, It’s Complicated puts a fresh spin on the relationships caught in the protagonist’s web using humor, honesty and a clear message to ensure the tone of the series remains light throughout making it the perfect quick watch on a rainy day.
In its pilot episode Skye (Devin Drain), the story’s protagonist, arrives home after completing the infamous walk of shame. Waiting by the door to gently tease her on her late night and current state is Lance (Jordan Mitchell-Love), Skye’s ex-boyfriend and newly minted roommate thanks to a joint lease that won’t end for another six months. As complicated as this may sound, the two seem to be managing their living arrangements as exes just fine seeing as how Lance’s inquiry into Skye’s late night appears to come from a place of brotherly concern rather than that of a jealous ex-boyfriend. And to further prove how friendly their post-relationship relationship has become, Skye asks Lance for his advice on how to best communicate with a one-night-stand that you want to see again. But when she confides in him that her hook-up was with another girl, their conversation goes from friendly to sincere.
In a short, but meaningful moment Lance struggles to ask Skye if she ever “enjoyed” having sex with him and her response to this is a very resolute “yes” and that she would again with another guy if the right guy ever came along. His sincerity inspires Skye to open up even further and she confides in him her panic over having had sex with a woman for the first time; until yesterday she’d always considered herself to be straight. Now, she isn’t so sure.
What’s so great and refreshing about this scene is that it gives both characters, a straight man and a queer women, room to have their own concerns without the script ever once trying to pit those concerns against each other or to have one seemingly trump the other. Lance cares enough about Skye to legitimately worry that the sex they used to have was meaningful, and Skye is in the midst of an identity crisis of sorts. That both characters validate and support each other’s concerns is honestly quite remarkable given that in real life the usual reactions to someone like Lance would be to invalidate his concerns with claims of “manpain” and Skye’s concerns with a general sense of biphobia. It’s Complicated; however, gives us an example of a healthy relationship between two people who are able to maturely provide each other with confidence although they were once in a sexual relationship. On the contrary, it’s this past relationship that makes their current one so much stronger.
Something else that’s worth mentioning about Skye and Lance’s past relationship is that it stays in the past. Once Skye’s new love interest, Alex (Samantha Gabrielson), is introduced in the third episode a definite romantic chemistry is showcased between the two actresses that was never present between Drain and Mitchell-Love. This isn’t because Drain and Mitchell-Love don’t have chemistry. They do, it’s just that it was never the intent of the script to feature Skye and Lance as anything other than non-romantic, so neither actor plays their scenes together with romance. Nowhere in the series’ six episodes is there ever any kind of relationship ambiguity written into the script to make the viewer believe Skye and Lance will ever begin dating again. We know they won’t and that is commendable writing. If there’s anything more exhausting than watching show after show and movie after movie force relationships into existence for the sake of introducing more conflict, it’s when that conflict is introduced to create a love triangle and It’s Complicated is above that.
And the deceit-turned-humor that I originally spoke of? That is elevated the moment Alex stops by Skye’s house unannounced prompting her to lie about her current living arrangements with a now-absent Lance. A simple lie would’ve been to omit the part about Lance being Skye’s ex and to tell Alex that he is simply her roommate. But the series isn’t called “It’s Simple.” So, Skye complicates things (for everyone) by telling Alex that Lance is her ex-boyfriend, but that he just recently came out as gay, a lie Lance is not prepared to adlib when he walks into the living room with lunch. In order to ensure the charade doesn’t end before it begins, Skye takes Alex on a “tour” of the balcony where she asks Alex to wait while she and Lance have a private conversation.
This is where the humor in It’s Complicated goes from verbal jokes and innuendo to physical comedy and superb expression. Some actors have the ability to fall into a scene so well that you forget they are even acting and when Gabrielson is performing comedy, she has this ability. She not only uses physical comedy to deliver her lines for full comedic effect, but she also uses her actions – like flinging herself at a jammed sliding glass door that can’t be pried open when her fear of cats compels her to seek multiple scenarios of escape – to elicit laughs expertly. In her mind, the black cat sitting on Skye’s balcony (with about as much motivation to attack her as Garfield ever did John) is a monster and we need only watch her hilarious performance to imagine this thought bubble hovering her panicked mind. After Skye rescues Alex from the cat, Alex dives onto the couch clutching a pillow cushion to her chest and promising both Lance and Skye that she was one of the cool kids in high school. She, a lesbian who is afraid of cats (innuendo *cough* innuendo), doesn’t manage to convince them.
The physical comedy continues with the introduction of Cody (Giovanni Rincon), Skye’s adopted brother and MMA fighter who also happens to hate Lance the way big brother’s tend to hate the boyfriends of their sisters. His comedy is expressive like Gabrielson’s, but unlike her Rincon’s brand of comedy toes the line between overacting and character acting in a way that is absolutely necessary for making a creep like Cody somewhat endearing and utterly laughable in his jerk-ery. His temper makes him somewhat intimidating and to prevent kicking a metaphorical ants nest in the midst of an identity crisis and Alex’s impromptu visit, Skye continues to lie – this time by omission. Understandably, Skye is not ready to come out to her brother and introduces Alex as a friend, further complicating things when Cody uses this as permission to A) flirt with Alex and B) threaten Lance in private after assuming he isn’t ready to move on from his relationship with Skye. Cody is the antagonist of the series for sure, but he is also arguably the shows best comic relief.
If lighthearted comedy and a refreshing take on relationships isn’t enough to persuade you to watch this webseries, then in all seriousness consider the message the series promotes. While at times repetitive and poured on a little thick, the overarching theme is that labels aren’t needed in order to define love. For people like Skye (very Type A, always organized, president-of-the-student-government kind of individuals) refusing to label anything, especially what’s becoming of you during a time of identity crisis, can be difficult. But love and attraction doesn’t need a label. It doesn’t need to be difficult. It just needs to be. And when friends like Lance support you and girls like Skye give you time to figure things out while offering to guide you along your way, even if for a short period of time things got a little complicated, love will eventually, simply, be.
Season One can be viewed on the Off Color Media YouTube channel. Off Color Media is currently crowdfunding for their second season of It’s Complicated.