Speaking with Carly Craig is a blast and her new series Sideswiped, which she wrote and in which she stars, turned out to be far more semi-autobiographical than I had imagined, and best of all, it’s funny as hell (and is great reason to subscribe to YouTube Premium). Sideswiped is a real find, and is a great look at dating in our thirties in the digital age.
Here is a condensed and edited version of our chat with the multi-talented and hilarious Carly Craig.
Brief Take: Had you ever used Tinder before?
Carly Craig: Yes, yes, I actually met my boyfriend on Tinder while preparing for the show. I was in a relationship all through the app era, so when I got out of it at 35, it was pretty shocking to have to go into it, because I thought I could miss it and be fine with it. [laughs] So I started dating without being on apps at first, and that’s crazy enough as it is, just being single and dating again. But then when I got on Tinder, I got on Tinder Plus, and I literally swiped on, we were in Los Angeles, just like my character, and we got 262 matches, just like my character does, and my boyfriend was one of them. I went through all of my messages when I was researching for it, but he was not research. Now we’re still together two years later!
It’s not a hookup app, because I thought that when I was going on it. There’s probably a lot of creeps on it, like there are in the real world, and there’s probably a lot of great guys and girls as well, you just have to sift through. It’s just like if you were in a bar, but it was a very big bar. [laughs] There are a lot of things in there that is me, but a lot of it isn’t. My Mom never lived with me, but there’s fights that my Mom and I had, just like the mother and daughter on the show. I think that this stuff is really relatable, the familial aspect, mother-daughter or sister-sister in which you have each other’s backs, but you fight like no one else.
BT: How did you go about casting your fictional mother (played by Rosanna Arquette) and sister (played by Chelsea Frei) on the show, because they’re so integral to it.
CB: It was hard. I think that I had a clear vision in my head of what I wanted for both, and when Rosanna’s name popped up, Rosanna Arquette, all of us, everybody at YouTube, there were so many names, and when her name came across, everyone was just like “that’s the one!”. She was just perfect for the role. She’s young at heart, she’s very rock n’ roll, she’s friends with everyone in the music industry. She’s just cool, and Mary’s very cool, so for her to get to play that and to be in her fifties and to go through menopause, and dating for the first time and all that she loved and wanted to do, it was a perfect match. And for Chelsea, shockingly, we went on a long search for that role. It was like a month and a half of auditions and she sent in a tape that I never saw, and she came to L.A. for two days and auditioned and I just loved her! This was her first big job, so I was really excited to give it to somebody who deserved it. She worked really hard in her own right, and to get this role, she nailed it. She’s such a pro and I couldn’t have been happier with the casting choices.
BT: I love and appreciated that your show features an interracial relationship and three strong female leads, and is female-created.
CC: I really did want to do a strong female-led show, and a strong female cast, and of all different ages. I definitely wanted to bring in all ethnicities, just a really inclusive show was my goal from the beginning. I wanted to bring in as many females as I could because being a girl in Hollywood, I know how hard the struggle is, no matter how talented you are, it’s difficult, so that was a big part of it for me. But I don’t feel like I need to hit people over the head with it on the show itself. They are all real people existing in a normal world I think, in which there are interracial relationships. I just wanted it to be a very real take on the world that I see.
BT: Can you talk a little about the opening scene of the show, with your character at the gynaecologist (played by Jason Sudeikis) on her 35th birthday.
CC: I met Jason Sudeikis during Hall Pass and I had written a pilot, and I sent that script with just that scene and I said that I wanted to shoot this, as a teaser to sell the show, we shot that before we even filmed the show. That happened to me in real life – the doctor situation. I went to the gynaecologist and this really hot male model-looking doctor came in, and the girl really did forget the Cytobrush, and I was just like “I have to write this”, because it was horrific and yet so relatable in some way, the whole gynaecologist experience. Also, being 35 and being told that your eggs are drying up, the whole thing was…I had to write it!
So I sent that to Jason, and we shot it, and it actually really helped with people getting to see the tone of the show. We use silence in a way that a lot of TV shows don’t because it’s not normal, usually there’s music under it, or you want to cut to different angles, but I wanted to set the tone that this is what it’s like to be in to be a gynecologist’s office. And Jason was perfect for understanding that tone and nailing it. I’ve done a lot of comedy, so bringing in a lot of my friends with whom I worked before was a goal from the beginning. The world of comedy is very supportive, where everybody is doing each other’s projects, so I had a feeling that once I did this and people responded to it, that they would come do it. Then that totally was the case and they were so supportive.
BT: What about Tyler Posey as the younger fitness guy in episode 2?
CC: I thought he nailed it. I had not worked with Tyler before, but one of the casting guys named Danny, who works at YouTube, suggested him, because he had worked on Teen Wolf, and one of the girls in the writer’s room loved him and they were like “he can do it”. So it was all a trust thing with Tyler. We offered him the role, he didn’t audition, and he brought likability to a character that could have been unlikable. I mean, he could have just been the jerk, but I really wanted somebody to bring some heart to it as well, and I really thought he nailed it. I just found him so lovable, even though his character is such a douche. He’s such a lovable guy that it comes through in his acting, and I think it just made it really work. Instead of being your typical jerky guy with no dimensions, I thought he had a lot. I think that guy’s got a long career ahead in comedy!
BT: Will we be seeing more of Bryan Greenberg at some point in the series?
CC: Yes, he’s the ex-boyfriend so you will meet Bryan Greenberg at some point in the series. He’s fantastic, it’s one of my favourite episodes.
BT: This series is very much its own entity, but what inspires you?
CC: I get inspired by a few things. I think that the show Catastrophe really inspires me. I think that this show is one of the few comedies that feels so real and the comedy is coming from situations where it becomes dramatic at times. I think that this show was such a huge inspiration for me just tonally, it was exactly the kind of comedy that I like to do. I like when when people are telling a story through their true voice, and I think Catastrophe is a good example of that. I love Curb Your Enthusiasm for its finding comedy in its awkward situations, there is a bit of Curb in this, like when she is getting herself into situations, but those are real situations, like the Starbucks thing. That Starbucks thing really happened to me! The girl in front of me paid for it and the people behind me had the most expensive thing. I was like “I just wanted an iced coffee, I wasn’t trying to be Mother Teresa today!”. They just have to give you a look, you know?! [laughs]
BT: How would you suggest watching the episodes on YouTube Premium?
CC: I love binge-watching. Once I get in the mood to watch a show, maybe not all eight episodes at one time for me, because that would be a long day, but I’ll watch like four episodes, when they’re half an hour or not even, it’s even easier. Like you might be able to binge it all in one day. I personally love the binge-watching experience so it’s a perfect place for this show to be. [giggles]
Sideswiped will debut on YouTube Premium on July 25