New webseries shines spotlight on real-life teen experience
Turn on your television set or Netflix and you’d be hard-pressed to find shows geared towards young adults that do not contain vampires or werewolves.
“Teenagers”, a new web series premiering this January, aims to change that with its dark humour and real life storylines. This new series, which has been filmed largely just outside Toronto, is the creation of Mathew Murray (director/writer) and Sara Tamosauskas (writer), both of whom say that there was a need for a show about modern-day teens.
Tamosauskas, who is a co-writer of “Teenagers”, says viewers should be ready for surprises. “I think people should be expecting to be shocked at times, we don’t hold back. We want to show people what it’s really like to be a teenager.”
Think “DeGrassi” meets HBO. As the medium of web series starts to take off, “Teenagers” aims to be the next hidden gem, like the now wildly popular “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl”. With the show being broadcast on the web, there is a certain level of freedom found within it.
“There’s some profanity and there’s a lot of sex in the first couple episodes at least, but its all for a reason,” explains Murray.
Based on the trailer, there is no shortage of drama taking place all season long. From sex, violence, peer-pressure and bullying to parties, school, family and friends, all aspects of the teenage life appear in this series with no filter. These are all meant as elements to give viewers of “Teenagers” a more realistic and relatable experience.
Besides the relatable themes, both Murray and Tamosauskas wanted to have identifiable and multilayered characters. “Teenagers” consists of a small central group of characters that come from different social, racial and socio-economic backgrounds. Two of those characters are particularly interesting. T (Emmanuel Kabongo) is the youngest of three boys. His oldest brother is in jail and his other brother is a drug addict. T is his family’s last hope, and when this overall good student-athlete gets caught up with the racist school bully’s girlfriend, things get heated. The other main character is a girl named Bree (Chole Rose) who is pretty straight edge until she starts dating one of the other characters and goes through what Tamosauskas describes as a “sexual revolution.”
The show has gone through its own revolution, even within its early stage. Originally, Murray and Tamosauskas planned to work on a feature about two young adults finding their way in the world, when the idea to add the characters to a web series came about. With the series filming mostly in the fall months everything has come into place quickly, something the creators are thrilled about.
“We mostly did the writing in September, day and night for like eight hours, just writing and writing. We started shooting in October and we were finished in November. It’s been really fast, but it’s been fun,” says Tamosauskas, with a laugh.
From watching the series one thing viewers will notice is that “Teenagers” is undoubtedly Canadian. This is something often hidden from television shows, but in this case the series’ creators embrace it in a modest way (so Canadian eh?).
“We did want to feel authentically Canadian, without it being in your face,” explains Murray.
Besides Canadian actors and Canadian scenery, “Teenagers” also features music by some of the country’s most underrated talent including John River, Shi Wisdom and Lincoln Blaché.
Murray explains the Canadian connection: “That’s another thing we really wanted to do, is just to have the show be a way of exposure for all the amazing talent in Toronto. By bringing all these musical artists and actors in, I think we have a nice little Canadian collaboration.”
“Teenagers” hits the web January 19, with back to back episodes.
Words By. Patrick Dennis Jr.