On paper, Olivia is every parent’s dream.
The blonde, blue-eyed 17-year-old studies hard, goes to church, obeys curfew and is headed off to Brown University in the fall. She’s never bombed a test, never gotten drunk, never stolen money from her parents, and she doesn’t even fight with her kid brother.
In fact, she’s never really done much of anything interesting or edgy – so it would seem.
That is, until her mom catches Olivia and her “study buddy” brushing up on anatomy on the floor instead of doing their English reading. Of course, a gay daughter wasn’t part of the master plan for the overprotective mom, who declares she’s sending Olivia off to Utah to fix her.
After trying to make promises and excuses, Olivia gives her mom an ultimatum: Send her away, and she’ll never come back.
So begins The Throwaways, a new web series from tello Films about a group of lesbian misfits whose families have kicked them out. Directed and co-written by Jessica King, the 10-episode show features newcomer Ashley Andersen as Olivia and guest stars out actress and comedian Bridget McManus.
Tellofilms produces web series with a lesbian focus, including Cowgirl Up, a comedy-western by the writer and producer of The N’s South of Nowhere, and McManusLand, which follows McManus as she tries to make it big.
Debuting on Thursday, The Throwaways follows baby gay Ollie – an alias she picks up to protect her real identity – as she depends on the kindness of strangers who take her under their wing.
Out here, Ollie discovers the darker sides of people caught in a seedy counterculture of violence, drug abuse and crime. As Ollie tries to keep her own straight-shooting integrity intact, she must navigate the confusing web of power plays among those who have granted her asylum.
It’s not clear whether Dorsey (Kate Black-Spence), who brings Ollie into the group, actually wants to help her, use her or sleep with her. Even her tough love interest Jazzlyn, played by Molly Pan, sends mixed messages about her loyalties.
Andersen delivers a layered performance of Ollie, seesawing from innocent and trusting to feisty and self-righteous. The other characters seem to flip flop back and forth just as easily – almost too easily – but perhaps that’s the point.
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After all, a few of these throwaways still entertain pipe dreams of returning home and picking up their discarded potential to lead a stable, honest life. For all their machismo, the series allows glimpses of vulnerability and fear in the girls, revealing that they are just as fickle and uncertain as the world they find themselves in.
Since most of the episodes are 10- to 20-minute pieces, the plot moves quickly through each stage, giving viewers just enough time to start to like a character before they do something to undermine Ollie’s trust.
The show covers a lot of ground, which may be why some of the supporting characters seem like archetypes rather than fully fleshed out three-dimensional individuals with their own backstory, but nevertheless, the series is thoughtfully made, with a racially diverse cast, well-produced cinematography and attention to detail.
Even Ollie’s belongings tell her tale of transformation as she moves further away from her former life. Ollie first leaves behind her cell phone, and then her car is impounded. The first night with the throwaways she sleeps curled around her backpack, clutching desperately to the trinkets of her past – a glass ball she fidgets with when she’s nervous, a school textbook and two pairs of Chucks. Later, the backpack lies underneath the bed when she sleeps. And then, one morning her belongings are gone – stolen.
The Throwaways, with its prescient exploration of bullying and homelessness among LGBT youth, reimagines a new type of family unit for a group of outcasts just looking for a place to call home.
Watch the trailer below:
Learn about tello Films and how you can watch the amazing first season of The Throwaways!