Interested in web series? AKA short (4-10 min per episode), fun sized series on YouTube that cram as much story into one episode as an hour-long show would. Looking for suggestions? Seek no more. We’re bringing you Talk Web Series With Us, featuring a new web series every week! Sit back, relax, log onto YouTube, and explore the stories web series have to offer!
Next stop: You’re The Pest
“Why are strong female leads important right now?” I asked Taylor Coriell, the co-creator of You’re the Pest, in a recent interview. Looking back at the question, I highly regret using the phrase “right now” at the end. Coriell was quick to answer. “I’ll start by saying… they’re always important. They always have been. People are just now paying attention. Amazing female comedians have always had their own TV shows, films, and web series, because they’ve worked their butts off to pave the way for the rest of us.” Good answer. She continues, “Ladies are taking over. The more strong, interesting, and complex female leads we see, the more it will reflect in our society.” She mentions that photo floating around social media of young girls dressed as Ghostbusters, gawking at Kristen Wiig. “If you see yourself […] represented onscreen, it changes […] what can be possible for you,” she adds. So Coriell, along with Jasmine Romero, put their money where their mouth is and created a web series that did exactly that.
Out to brunch one day, a group of men struck up a conversation with them- one being an exterminator. Coriell, out of curiosity, asked if he knew any female exterminators. He said no, and an idea was born. “As two women who have spent a combined eight years in NYC auditioning, and twenty plus years in show business, we were tired of the same stereotypical women portrayed in the media,” Romero says in a YouTube video introducing viewers to the series. Coriell and Romero had two conditions: 1. The script had to pass the Bechdel test, where two women can talk about something other than a man, and 2. “Straight white dudes” were limited.
This is a web series about estranged childhood friends who meet again in unfortunate circumstances. Alex, a wannabe cop but far too incident prone to ever become one, and Marissa, a former pageant queen who refuses to give up her title as Miss New York 2012, find themselves with the deed of their families extermination business after their dads die in a freak accident. “Add in Kimmy Schmidt-style smash cuts, the awkward humor of The Comeback, heavy day drinking, an adorkable younger brother, two exceptionally savvy interns, and the eternal battle of accepting who you are vs. who you thought you would be, and you’ve got: You’re The Pest,” Coriell jokes.
They want to explore how priorities change entering adulthood, and the importance of family. “Everyone talks about how friends are the family you choose for yourself,” Coriell begins. The relationship between Alex and Marissa intrigues her the most- how suffering a similar loss brings two people closer together. Coriell says they put the word, “family,” at the top of their corkboard before writing. They aim to redefine what family means to this grieving pair.
An exceptional cast is already lined up. Adrianna DeGirolami, best known for her role in “Nurse Jackie,” plays Marissa. Coriell plays Alex. Parisa Fitz-Henley has been added, known for “Jessica Jones,” while Jeffrey Salce, Chantal Maurice, Kevin Sebastian and Aaron Gold will be series regulars. Coriell has written seven episodes so far with the pilot already released. Most of her writing is character driven, tailoring the scenes to the specific actor. She mentions she has, “about four seasons percolating in my brain,” clearly prepared and hopeful for this series to take off. “The possibilities with these two characters are endless, and I hope we get to explore even a fraction of them,” she adds.
“We’re finished writing, the series regulars are cast, and we’re ready to hit record, all we need are some dollars to, you know, rent equipment and feed people and stuff.” Coriell, Romero, and the team are ready to get to work. They need some help to get there, though. “You can make a tax-deductible donation to our project at https://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/fiscal/profile?id=13341.” Adding, “Not joking…” Any amount helps. They’re itching to bring us new content.
When asked what she hopes the viewers get out of the show, Coriell replies with, “First, I hope they get a hearty chuckle or two.” Watching the pilot, I can verify that I did, in fact, get a hearty chuckle or two. This show is funny- laugh out loud funny; laugh so loud you wake a sleeping house funny. “Secondly, I really hope we’ve managed to create two characters that they can relate to.” She says that both girls are at that awkward age of adulthood, questioning, “what am I even doing?” She emphasizes that success is relative. “What happens to success after you’ve already achieved your great success, as in Marissa’s situation? What about a failed dream, like Alex and the police force? Can you find happiness and success in something you never thought about doing? Like running a slightly decrepit extermination company in Queens?” They hope viewers can relate to this- this idea that success isn’t definite.
Coriell wants people to see the series “and laugh, and love these characters we’ve created.” Her passion shines through her words. “I want to contribute to the amazing work of so many women who are trying to make a change for the next generation. If the only way I can do it is by creating a web series with two strong, funny, independent, and complex FEMALE characters, then I want to do it!” She adds, “maybe my baby nieces and their friends will grow up knowing, without a doubt, that they can be a cop or a pageant queen or an exterminator or whatever they want to be. Things don’t have to be coated in pink glitter and covered in sugar for it to be acceptable.”
The cast and crew, alike, are determined to make a dent in the industry- destroying stereotypes, and laughing while doing it. They’ll have no problem with that, in my opinion. Their passion is evident and their talent rich. You’re The Pest is not only about two girls redefining success and maneuvering through adulthood. It’s a story that girls can look up to- believing their opinions, wants, and needs matter, knowing their future is tangible, building a life without needing a man. “We all have to keep pushing for equal and accurate representation for women and minorities in the media.” Coriell continues, “The day that I never hear ’77 cents to the dollar-‘ that would be a happy day.”