Today is a not-to-be-missed episode of LogoTv.com’s hit web series EastSiders, starring the brilliant work of Van Hansis and Kit Williamson.
Throughout the nine episode arc viewers have come to love, hate, be shocked, and take a look at their own lives and the decisions they make in their own relationships, as we have watched the train-wreck of a once loving duo, Thom and Cal, fall apart amidst infidelity, trust issues, and bad, very bad, communication skills.
Written and produced by Williamson, this self-effacing, dark, poetic story tells the tale of the dissolution of a young gay couple, as well as the story of the relationship of their friends, Ian (John Halbeck) and Kathy (Constance Wu).
On-Air On-Soaps has covered the series throughout its run, and today brings you this special look into the heart and soul of the story as we head into the season finale with a terrific conversation with Van and Kit. Do not miss the finale episode beginning today at 3PMEST/12PMPST!
Let’s first go back to episode three, which is critical to the story of EastSiders. Cal ends up sleeping with Jeremy! The same guy his boyfriend cheated on him with! What happened there?
KIT: Cal actually goes into Thom’s office and gets Jeremy’s address, and goes over there to confront him, and he finds out Jeremy had no idea who he is. And … they get drunk together and actually have sex.
Did Cal just not care at all about what he was doing at that point?
KIT: I think he cared, but the other thing he found out was Thom really never ended things with Jeremy. He just kind of stopped, and he stopped talking to him. I think Cal sleeping with Jeremy was done part from a place of revenge, and part from a place of hurt and drunkenness. He was kind of lashing out at the situation, which we later see Cal do more and more of, as time went on.
Then, another key moment in the series was when Thom got clued into what was going on when Jeremy showed up at the bar with two envelopes … one for Thom and one for Cal! But when did he put two and two together?
VAN: It was Thom is in the car with Kathy, and Kathy makes a comment. Thom is sitting right there, so he kind of puts everything together. So at the end of episode six you saw Cal come home drunk. Thom has just dropped Kathy off at home, and Thom is waiting for him, and Cal walks and … boom!
So, is Cal sleeping around (with a few guys in the series) because he just feels so betrayed by Thom, and so he acted out?
KIT: He in many ways defined his life by his relationships, and when his vision of life with Thom was shattered, Cal really does not know who he is anymore, and he is lashing out in ways he has never done before. Another thing people found out in episode three was Thom is actually the only person Cal has slept with before the series starts. At the beginning of the series, Cal in many ways, and through all his cynicism, is a romantic. Never in a million years would he imagine that something like this would happen to him and his relationship. So I think he is very lost and does not know what to do to make the feelings subside, but in the story, a lot of time has passed. If you are going to stay together, you have to forgive somebody for their indiscretions … IF you are going to stay together.
Val and Kathy had that moment in episode six, where he says to her something along the lines of, “I am a bad person.” Does he truly feel that way?
VAN: I think with Thom it is sort of like, he knows he has a problem, like with some sort of addiction, and when you know you have that problem you are constantly having this notion that you have to keep yourself in check. There is that thing out there that you could fall into, but you are trying desperately not too. I think that Thom is kind of trying to be the good person he knows he should be, and be very contentious about Cal, but I think that is very hard for him. Cal is not making it easy for him. I think throughout most of the series, Thom has this feeling of constantly being in the “dog house”. Cal says he forgives him, but he does not know if things will ever get back to a place from the first initial mistake he made, and that is what he wants to see. So I think that Thom is very wary of doing anything that will throw that off balance. I think his way of doing it is he keeps looking inward. That is why with Kathy he has that line that I love, about “What I do tomorrow, will make me a good person.” He is literally taking it one day at a time. Like “Don’t screw up today, and maybe tomorrow you will take another step, and then another step. Then, maybe you will be the person who won’t hurt the person you love most in the world, anymore.”
How did Thom feel when he realized that Cal has been cheating on him all this time?
VAN: I think he is devastated and incredibly upset. All this time he was trying to make amends and Cal was going off and doing the exact opposite. The whole series has been about not communicating with each other. It is like two airplanes … one flying east and one flying west, and they are trying to parachute out of it at the same time.
KIT: Thom disappears in episodes four and five. What I was trying to suggest by doing that in the storytelling is that he was kind of isolated and doing penance.
VAN: That is what I felt too, when I was watching it!
KIT: He just wakes up, and goes to work, and comes home! He does not have any friends or any other outlet to talk to but Cal. He is just ignoring all these text messages and calls from Jeremy, and trying to not dig himself into a deeper hole.
VAN: I think that is something, in watching it, I realized. We shot all the episodes at once. So we were going from episode four, to episode nine, back to episode four. Everything was shot out of order, so when you see it all together, you really get that sense of the story. I remember when I watched the first couple of episodes I was like, “Oh man, Thom is kind of a shit.” Then I was like, “Oh, poor Thom!”
Kit’s writing is so complex! Constance Wu’s performance after her character, Kathy, has an abortion was amazing!
VAN: You should have been sitting in the car next to her! It was incredible!
Kit, I understand you got some serious backlash on the way that abortion was portrayed on EastSiders!
KIT: When they see an abortion represented on television, there is an expectation that a person is going to be punished for it. I did not want to go that route, because I don’t believe a woman should be punished for choosing to have an abortion. It is her body. It is her reproductive rights. I wanted to approach the issue without any judgment. I wrote an article on the Huffington Post about this a few weeks ago. I just had wished that the story point would have started a discussion, instead of vitriol back and forth. We are not use to seeing, for lack of better term, a non-melodramatic abortion. We are not use to seeing it handled in the way, that most of my friends that have undergone the procedure have relayed their experiences to me, that it was not a traumatic experience for them. The very fact of representing a character not being haunted by her abortion is upsetting to some people.
I called EastSiders, “Riveting to watch”! Then I got some backlash from fans saying, “How can it be riveting, when all it is everyone sleeping around with everybody?”
VAN: Well, that can be riveting! (Laughs) You know, there is not a sex scene in the whole series.
KIT: I am not opposed to sex scenes, and it’s not something I will never write, but for this story it felt like the sex was so incidental. It was the emotional ramifications of the sex, and in many ways thematically. It’s a story about self-sabotage, and a story about emotional dishonesty and not just infidelity, but the way that we hide ourselves from people we are in relationships with. Thinking we are protecting ourselves and protecting the relationship, but really it is just leading to a path of destruction.
Van, how far ahead did you get to see the script before the seven new episodes were shot after the success of the Kickstarter campaign? Just a few days? Was there time to prepare? (Laughs)
VAN: (Laughs) The script got sent two weeks before we started shooting. I had some time to sit with it and go over it. But one of things that was in the scripts that comes out and kind of shocked me when I was watching it back, was honestly, how dark it is. The script is so funny, and what the characters are saying is so funny, but this is Kit’s writing and the performances as well, but there is almost an undercurrent of sadness throughout the entire thing. I think that is what you meant earlier by “riveting”. I am a pretty happy-go-lucky guy, but there is always some edge in life. I think there is a lot of darkness in the writing that I did not initially see. I think that is what is really beautiful. It’s not just a lot of clever people saying very clever things to each other. The cleverness and the funniness comes out of the darkness.
Van, when you first read that Cal was going to cheat too, were you shocked?
VAN: No, (Laughs) because of the stuff with Jeremy I was not completely shocked. I knew that Thom probably would not cheat again, because that would probably just make him a douche bag. I don’t think Kit writes characters like that. I knew there was going to be nine episodes and so something has to happen. I did not know if Cal would sleep with someone else, or he and Jeremy would start a relationship, but I knew something was going to happen.
What is Thom thinking about Jeremy, now that he knows he slept with Cal too?
VAN: At first he was really into Jeremy, but then when Thom realized what a cad he was being, I think he prioritized. I don’t think Thom is just going to have in his lifetime just one person he is in love with. I think there are a lot of people like that. I think there are people who don’t have the ability to just love one person, and I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing. I think Thom is always going to be the type of person, who falls in love with someone driving down the 101 freeway, and stops in traffic, and looks at him. He might imagine a life together, or night together with that person, at least. I think Thom was really trying to be what he thought his boyfriend needed him to be. I think when he finds out that Cal had been sleeping around this whole time, it’s even more of a shock. It’s like he feels, “I was trying to conform myself to you, and you are off doing whatever the hell you want without any regard to me, or how much I want to make this work.” I think that is just in Thom’s psyche, to think of himself a lot! (Laughs)
KIT: The thing is, Cal is not having any fun. I don’t think his cheating comes from a place of sexual indulgence. He is really trying to stop the bleeding, as it were, for himself emotionally, as it were. He is just going further and further down this path. It only multiplies his hurt, exponentially, but he does not know what to do.
Episode seven was a jump in time, which was key to the telling of the overall story!
KIT: Yes. We jumped ahead in time to the end of the month, and they are moving out of their apartment because they have broken up. The entire apartment is in boxes. It is kind of dividing up the silverware and navigating that. Kathy and Ian have broken up as well, but have started sleeping with each other again. Thom has started actually dating Jeremy. You don’t see the actual break-up, but things are very raw between Thom and Cal at the very beginning of that episode.
What is the vibe from the fans of EastSiders that you have been getting now that we are at the series finale? Are they still siding with Cal? Or, are some siding with Thom? Or, both? Or, neither? (Laughs)
KIT: I think that people’s allegiances have shifted. Because at the end of episode two, everybody was very much on Cal’s side, but the tricky things about relationships is you can’t have one person be right, and one person be wrong, and maintain a relationship. I am not saying that Cal was right to level the playing field, but it is just as much for a toxic situation for Thom to be walking around with his head bowed all day, every day. In that regard, something had to give in other direction. I think people are really mad at Cal, and for good reason! I just hope they remember how they felt a lot of empathy for him in the first two episodes! I am not saying getting wasted, or turning to alcohol, is way to solve people’s relationship problems, it never works, but I understand why some people try. (Laughs)
VAN: I think some people love Thom, and some people don’t. I look it more as the entire show, and not from a character’s point of view. From what I have noticed, a lot of people who would not necessarily be the target audience, and friends of mine, or people who I saw on facebook who I don’t know at all, will say, “I saw your web series. It’s amazing!” I think what I really love about this show is that it’s going in all of these directions, and the stories it’s telling, and it’s not about the sexuality of the characters. And, as far as who is on Team Cal or Team Thom? I don’t really care. I am not on either team, because I think the really interesting thing is that what Kit said is right, you can’t have teams. Teams are for sports, not for defining people.
On today’s season finale, is there a cliffhanger? What can viewers expect?
KIT: Episode nine takes place on the last day of Thom and Cal’s lease. It’s moving day, and nothing will ever be the same.
So EastSiders, Van and Kit fans, what did you think about the first season of the series? Today’s finale episode? The relationship between Thom and Cal, and the performances of Kit and Van throughout? Weigh-in!