Have you ever been through a big break-up?
'Whelmed' is the Melbourne-based web series about Gen (played by Gillian Cosgriff), a 28-year-old who has just broken up with her boyfriend of 12 years and is seeing the world as a single girl for the first time in a long time.
The series deals with dating apps, misogyny, clubbing and more through the mediums of comedy and music.
Here, Dave Zwolenski (co-Creator, Director, Producer and Editor) answers some questions about 'Whelmed'.
This show is all about being single after a long time of being taken. What do you think works about 'Whelmed'?
The world has changed so much in the last five or ten years that I think everyone is struggling to keep up with the latest trends, the newest apps, the most prominent social movements (Kony2012 anyone?). It’s really quite a confusing time out there now and I think seeing someone who has just ended a 12 year relationship and isn’t really sure how life works anymore is relatable to all of us who are battling our way through it.
You co-created, directed, co-produced and edited the series. What were some of the challenges involved in such a big undertaking?
Between juggling a full time job, scheduling clashes and funding it ourselves we were constantly up against challenges. It was easy to work around though – I just didn’t sleep for a few months and spent all my savings. Yay, art.
It took a year to make the four episodes of this show possible. What was the process like?
We made two episodes in three months and that all came down to having a goal which was to get into Melbourne Webfest. Once we did that (nominated Best Comedy, cheers) we were like “ok, so what now?” and the rest of the series, which was only two more episodes, took another nine months. The power of a deadline.
Aside from people who have been through tough break-ups, who else do you think would enjoy watching this and why?
Anyone who means well but gets it wrong sometimes. For example, in the episode where Gen goes to babysit her nephew and tries to rework various fairytales to make them less misogynistic (a nice idea), her heart is in the right place but she just gets it so wrong. She believes she has all the answers but when you look at it you realise she’s a 28-year-old woman getting drunk while preaching to a 7-year-old.
What are some of the things that really make this – a show covering a very real topic about facing the world in an unfamiliar way – a comedic production?
If you look at the way western society is right now, you either have to take one of two approaches – cry because it’s all so bleak or laugh because it really does just feel like we’re living in a real shitty game of ‘The Sims’. Life is baffling and sometimes such simple things, like folding a fitted sheet, are funny.
It's also musical… tell me about the original songs?
They’re all original songs written and performed by the talented Gillian Cosgriff, who’s an award-winning comedian and musician, and they’re brilliant. The two in the series are 'The Break Up Song' and 'Regular Lady (Goes To A Nightclub)' and they both deal with things we’ve all been through. I personally can’t stay up past 10pm anymore, like ever.
What do you personally enjoy about 'Whelmed' overall, as a series?
I love that Gen isn’t really lamenting the break up at all, it’s almost a footnote. She made the decision to break up with her boyfriend (while he was proposing) so she’s not really heartbroken, she’s just a bit useless. I can relate to being useless. A lot.
Since it's a musical comedy, describe 'Whelmed' with a lyric.
As Gillian is the musically talented one I’ll borrow a lyric of hers from the ep where she goes out to a nightclub: “She’s just a regular lady, trying really hard to have a good time. She’s just a normal human being, grinding in the dark with strangers and pretending it’s fine”. And aren't we all?