Olivia’s life is pretty much on track: she has a nice home in the burbs with her family and she’s a straight-A student on her way to Brown. Her biggest problems consist of deciphering literary metaphors for an upcoming test and sneaking in the occasional smooch session with her pseudo-gf, Andrea. But when Olivia’s mother catches her on top of Andrea instead of on top of her homework, she is threatened with de-gayment camp in Utah…as if Utah isn’t scary enough on its own. With no choice but to run, Olivia heads from Evanston to the big, bad city of Chicago.
Alone, with nothing but her car and a few personal belongings, Olivia is soon pursued by the cops. With the help of an impish and charismatic girl she meets in a café, Dorsey, Olivia soon reinvents herself as “Ollie” and becomes a part of a group of lesbian misfits. Her new friends—Dorsey, her mildly predatory sister Fiona, wide-eyed newbie Amy, quiet and intimidating Mia, family punching bag Jazzlyn, the taunting Twelve Monkeys-esque Rynn, and the mercilessly bitter Jayne (Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together’s Fawzia Mirza)—are rife with advice on what to expect once you’ve run away from home, and it is soon evident that her helpers are, in many ways, just as helpless as she is. Especially when it comes to the menacing presence of their mostly silent “protector,” Bill.
As Ollie learns the varying stories of coming out and hopelessness from her newfound friends, they troll local Chicago haunts, drinking, stealing, doing and selling drugs, crying and occasionally making out (why should a busted lip stop the action?). Morality is constantly blurred in terms of survival, and Olivia easily falls into her new lifestyle, even though she’s a wee bit over her head.
Ashley Anderson’s Olivia teeters between naïve and jaded while trying to redefine the meaning of “family” and “home.” Overall, the acting is solid and strong in this web series and the banter is both witty and jarring enough to remind you not to stay comfortable. And that falls right in line with the intentions of The Throwaways writers, Julie Keck and Jessica King: “Career wise, we come from social services and education backgrounds, so we’ve both served people from all walks of life whose stories never get told: older people, people with disabilities, immigrants, people of different faiths, teenagers and kids who get ignored. In our writing, we draw from the people we’ve met, hoping to honor them by telling stories that often get relegated to the sidelines, because they’re messy and complicated, because they don’t fit into the regular 90-minute rom-com or 30-minute sitcom format. The stories we reference in The Throwaways (and the accompanying extra videos being showcased on AfterEllen.com) aren’t stories you’ve heard on afterschool specials or in the B-story of your favorite cable show: they’re original, they’re real. And often they’re uncomfortable.”
When asked about the inspiration behind the series, “Within the homeless teen population, a disproportionately large number of kids identify as LGBT. While there’s been some coverage of this within the media and in documentaries, no one is telling these kids’ stories.”
The Throwaways reminds us that too many LGBT youth are not only considered disposable like the series title suggests, but the circustances behind coming out forces them to, in essence, throw away their lives as they’ve known them. Most importantly, it speaks to the community’s problem of both lack of resources for help and how young people who are “thrown away” don’t always know about what is available for them. And that is just one of the reasons why this series is important to the LGBT community. According to the writers, “The series highlights a number of things that we just don’t see in mainstream entertainment or in the limited content that’s targeted towards lesbians. While campaigns like ‘It Gets Better’ are admirable, I think we then forget that, for a lot of people, it doesn’t get better immediately and sometimes won’t because their challenges spread far beyond sexuality.”
Writer/Director Jessica King goes on to say, “Getting your parents to accept you as a lesbian or gay child is often only one part of what gay kids are dealing with. There are cultural, religious, and class issues at play here, and to pretend that coming out is a singular discussion—or the same discussion for each family—doesn’t allow for the amazing diversity of families out there.”
With so many diverse characters introduced in the ten episodes (more Mia, Jayne and Amy, please!), The L Stop asked the writers if there are plans for a continuation of the series: “We’d love to see a second season of The Throwaways: there are still so many stories to tell. We are always juggling a bunch of projects…Right now we’re writing the next tello web series, as well as seeking out fresh and new stories from other writers and producers interested in being a part of tello. The more diverse, original stories we find, the stronger the website will be.”
Check out the trailer!
The Throwaways will launch on Thursday, August 23rd on Tellofilms.com.
Angelique worked in advertising for six years, but quit once they stole her soul. She has been the Marketing & PR Director for Reeling, Chicago’s LGBT International Film Festival, for the last three years. She can currently be seen going out too much and ignoring the stack of books on her floor that she really wants to find the time to read.