If you’re a fan of LGBT content or you’ve finished all the relevant titles Netflix has to offer, consider switching over to Dekkoo. It’s a subscription-based streaming service dedicated to gay men, with an even larger collection of gay-centered content than Netflix or Amazon Video. Once you make the plunge, one web series worth checking out is I’m Fine, whose second season premieres Thursday, Jan. 25.
“It’s a dark comedy. It’s a satire of a group of gay friends living in West Hollywood. It’s sometimes cringe-worthy, but the characters I think are likable and, hopefully most of all, relatable,” says series creator Brandon Kirby, who also wrote and directed every episode. “I hope people see themselves in these characters, even if sometimes they might not want to.”
The show, whose episodes run around 11 minutes, centers on Nate, played by Perry Powell, and his friends. “Nate’s a glibly sardonic, mildly narcissistic and cringingly neurotic 20-something aspiring writer who’s convinced of his own self-importance and views himself as a sort of Everyman representing the new ‘millennial’ generation of out gay men in the PrEP/Trump era,” Powell says. “He’s at this tender age where he’s still learning how to not deflect responsibility for his mistakes and not see himself as the one central ‘sane’ character in his life, how to discern between what and what not to take seriously, how to decondition his ingrained dishonesty, and how to absolve his cynicism to clearly communicate his emotions with the people he loves.”
While Nate is not totally based on Kirby in real life, there definitely are some similarities. “The core of the show came from my own experience, so I guess I’m forced to say I relate most to Nate even though he’s like the worst person,” Kirby says.
Lee Doud plays Nate’s best friend, Jeff, who caused some turmoil in their friendship when he drunkenly confessed his love for Nate in season one. “I feel like I can actually relate to Jeff quite a bit. I remember feeling very connected to him when I first read Brandon’s script and found a lot of parallels in my own life,” Doud says. While the show centers around a group of gay men, Doud believes that anyone going through that stage in their life can relate. “I think [I’m Fine] is an accurate portrayal for what life is like in your 20s in L.A., whether you're a man or woman, gay or straight. … This show accurately portrays the feelings and experiences of many young people in this city. It’s a nice reminder that you’re never going through the struggle alone.”
Speaking of this city, season two especially makes sure to feature the city prominently. “I live in West Hollywood. I love West Hollywood. If the show seems like I’m poking fun at it, I am, but it’s a loving poke,” Kirby says. “It was a conscious decision through season two to include more of West Hollywood. Season one, it was like this is a show about West Hollywood, but we don’t see any of it."
The goal with season two is to “make it feel like it’s a show that actually exists in West Hollywood,” he adds, “like we see Micky’s and we see Flaming Saddles [and] we were able to get Hamburger Mary’s, which is a big West Hollywood landmark. We [also] cheated [WeHo locations] like the Abbey,” by using a gay club in North Hollywood for the interior.
So aside from more WeHo, what else can fans of the show expect to see in season two? “I described season one as being very Nate-centric. So season two I tried to make Nate a supporting character in his own series because I think the other friends that he’s surrounded by are also incredible characters who deserve their own storylines,” Kirby says. “Fans should look forward to learning a lot more about Jeff and a lot more about Joey and his kickball team and a lot more about Nicole as well.”
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Fans also can expect to see Jeff go on a horrendous date that’s based on Doud’s real-life experiences (he even got a storyline credit for the episode). “Brandon and I got to talking about where Jeff’s story was heading and I told him … I really wanted to address … Jeff’s/my race. I'm half Chinese and half Caucasian, and not only are Asian-Americans wildly underrepresented in film and TV but I also believe Asian-American men are desexualized in media,” Doud says. “I wanted a part of the story to bring Jeff’s race to the foreground of the conversation. It’s important to recognize that some of our racial biases stem from the media portrayal of different minority groups. The date itself is more of an amalgamation of some experiences I’ve had as someone of mixed race, either being mistaken for another ethnicity or just not being ‘enough’ of one or the other to fit a stereotype or preconceived notion.”
In terms of the future of I’m Fine, Kirby says that although he has thought about what a season three could look like, there's been no official word on it yet, and any episodes would most likely be the same length. Until then, “If you want an honest look at gay life in West Hollywood, check out I’m Fine,” Kirby says.
All episodes available to stream beginning Thursday, Jan. 25, at dekkoo.com.