Welcome to the review and recap of what will hopefully be the first season of Words With Girls, a show created by our very own Brittani Nichols and brought to us here today by ColorCreative.tv, an initiative founded by Issa Rae and Deniese Davis to increase opportunities for women and minority TV writers in a white and male-dominated industry. The premiere of the pilot, which you can watch right now along with two other pilots on Color Creative TV, is a pretty big deal for all of us. The Words With Girls series premiered and was hosted by Autostraddle and we’re just super excited for Brittani! You can read her Comedy Crush interview about how it all went down here, go watch the pilot and then come right back here to talk about it.
Words With Girls: Review
So, what exactly is Words With Girls? It started out as a clever, quirky lesbian webseries more loyal to its self-styled format than to pesky conventions like “a consistent cast” or “a plot.” The show was well-liked from the get-go, although nobody really knew how to describe it. Every episode was about girls — gay girls! — and every episode is centered around a specific word. But besides those two things, the only consistency is, well, Brittani Nichols, and you get the sense that Brittani is the one consistent actress in every episode not because Brittani wants to be an actress, but because only Brittani knows how to deliver Brittani’s lines.
Whether playing herself in the webseries or the fictional character of “Aspen” in the TV pilot, she is blunt, brutally honest and self-deprecating, often bordering on misanthropic… in a surprisingly charming way. Just like in her writing and stand-up, she’s not afraid to make people squirm, and her refusal to give a fuck obscures an over-analytical center that, when it reveals itself, delivers the show’s most treasured moments and its most hilarious. “I don’t care. But I care so much that I don’t care,” she says in the webseries’s second episode. She’s describing a haircut’s attitude when she says that, but to quote the great Angela Chase, “…she wasn’t just talking about my hair. She was talking about my life.”
The webseries initially starred Brittani and actress/musician Lauren Neal, but Hannah Hart pretty quickly stepped in, with Neal returning for the last two webisodes. Hart’s a certified star these days, but she was rising even back then and she and Brittani made a winning comedic team, perhaps best exemplified in my favorite episode of the webseries, “Mimicry”:
In the pilot, it’s Corbin Reid as Micky who seems to fill Hannah and Lauren’s shoes as Nichols’ comedic foil. Truly, though, Reid is a standout performer overall. Aspen, Micky and Alex Sturman‘s Pace are at the center of the show as twentysomething roommates in Los Angeles, “fast-talking attitude-having lesbians, each with their own Hollywood dream but one crappy apartment.” They’ve got a lot more in common with the NYC-based Broad City or even Girls than with that other show about Los Angeles lesbians, The L Word. In lieu of glamour, the girls traffic in private jokes and friendship rituals. They’re trying to figure out who the fuck they are and what the hell they want, as reluctant but ambitious players in a shiny competitive city and members of an evolving subculture even more unmoored from tradition than that of their straight female counterparts across the country. Employment is haphazard, love is complicated, boys are irrelevant… and friendship is forever!
Ultimately, this show is actually everything we’ve always wanted: it’s a smart and funny show about hot lesbians with a racially diverse cast; directed, produced and written by women, queer people and people of color. I really hope we have a chance we get to see this story and these people get filled in and blown up. It’s about damn time, am I right? Ladies?
LET’S RECAP THIS THING.
YOU GUYS IT’S BRITTANI’S TEEVEE SHOW!!!
Today’s Word For Girls is “PILOT,” which is the light that’s out when your stove won’t work and also “a television program made to test audience reaction.” That’s what this is! I recommend reacting with enthusiasm.
We open in the Handy Market, which isn’t a lesbian sex superstore as you might assume from the name but rather a respectable grocery establishment where Micky’s trying to get Pace to spot her for some Bushmills ’cause she can’t get it with her EBT card.
As so many of us so often do in California, Micky has forgotten her reusable bag and is therefore faced with the horrifying prospect of paying ten cents for a new one or piling her goods into her bosom. She obviously selects the latter.
Pace is about to ask her girlfriend to move in, which Micky thinks is a bad idea but Pace thinks is a great idea and very ‘adult,’ like how eating Cheetos from the bag before paying for them is very adult.
Oh also look which maker of DIYke jewelery is also shopping at the Handy Mart?
Cut to a nice-looking restaurant, where Brittani AKA “Aspen,” a name probably inspired by what I assume is Brittani’s deep affection for winter skiing, is enjoying 3-4 beverages with her assistant Ari, who’s just made Variety’s “Assistants to Watch” list, which I wish was a real thing so Intern Grace could be on it.
Ari’s irked that Aspen instagrammed her without her permission. Aspen explains that she wants people to think that they own a business together now that Ari’s on the aforementioned list. Ari’s worried it’ll seem like they’re scissoring.
Brittani: We dated for like, two weeks in college. And I hate to break it to you, but I think the gay cat is already out of the bag.
Ari: Just don’t check us in on facebook, my co-workers can see that.
Brittani: I’m not gonna check us in on facebook, that’s a cry for help even I’m not comfortable with.
Ari wants to know where “the pilot” is, so I guess that means Aspen is a television writer/producer/etc. Also, Ari would like Aspen to stop ordering chocolate milk at meetings, but Ari isn’t the boss of her, so.
Pace and Micky arrive home to find the door open, which probs means they’re being haunted by the ghost of Jenny Schecter, or else Pace’s girlfriend Erica doesn’t feel deeply disturbed by the prospect of flies or burglars hanging out in her living room.
The girls enter to find Erica on the couch, crying, clutching a box of her stuff. People never have enough stuff on TV shows. I’d have like a horse-and-buggies worth of shit on my lap just for sleepovers.
It’s clear that the girl Pace wants to move in is about to move out — like not of the apartment, because she doesn’t live there yet, but you know, like out of her life. Micky’s still gotta get a word in, because she’s perfect:
Micky: Okay, I feel like this is no longer pertinent but Erika could you please close and lock the door when you come into or leave the apartment.
Cut to a few minutes or so later, when Erica and Pace are having a Tough Talk on the porch while Aspen and Micky talk about them on the phone! Aspen, it turns out, is Micky and Pacey’s rooomate and Pace’s best friend, but always sleeps at her girlfriend’s place.
Micky: Oh I almost forgot to tell you, that girl I met in puppy training class came over last night.
Aspen: You don’t have a dog.
Micky: I know, I fell into the “Cute Dog, Average Girl” trap. But like the genius I am I found a way to get out of it.
Aspen: Don’t invite strangers to our apartment?
Micky: Tell them you have a yeast infection. What are they gonna do, check?
Meanwhile on the porch, Pace and Erica are breaking up, which’s bad news for Pace ’cause she needs Erica. She neeeeeeds her.
But Erica wants to talk about herself and her feelings:
Erica: Have you even thought about asking me what I want?
Pace: What is that?
Erica: I don’t know…
Pace: How can I give you what you want when you don’t even know what that is?
Erica: You can’t! I just don’t want —
Pace: -me. You don’t want me. You never did.
Erica: Oh, bullshit I have been there for you every single time that you fell apart to pick up the pieces and I’m just being honest about the fact that I can’t do it anymore.
Pace: You know this time you’ll be the reason that I fall apart.
Erica: Well at least this time, there’ll be a reason.
Sad lady music plays as Erica heads off into the horizon / Cleveland, where milk probably costs a reasonable amount of money and it’s not hard to find a restaurant large enough for an Autostraddle Meet-Up. Meanwhile inside, Micky’s got a Breakup Buffet for Pace — liquor, pills, the works.
Cut to Aspen’s room, where her girlfriend is doing weird yoga and asking about the “n-word.” “Noodle,” I think.
As a white person, I’m unable to recap this conversation, I just have to copy/paste it for you:
Becca: What if somebody said you’re being a “real n-word” right now?
Aspen: Somebody called me the n-word?
Becca: Not you, they said “a real n-word”
Aspen: Real n-word? or they said THE n-word?
Becca: They literally said “a real n-word.”
Aspen: Okay if they said it then i’m giving you permission as a black person for you to say it this one time because this is getting too confusing.
Becca: And I’m saying, as a white person, that I don’t need to say it.
Aspen: Aw, I’d probably just pretend to be mad.
Aspen wants to know if what happened to Pace and Erica could ever happen to them. Becca jokes that it could never happen to them ’cause she’s from here so she couldn’t run off to Cleveland, Home of the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.
Cut to Pace’s place, which makes me wanna say Payton’s Place, where Pace is contemplating suicide, Micky’s wearing these really hot ripped-up tights, and Aspen is talking to Pace like she’s a baby or a small puppy because she doesn’t know how to have Emotions.
Aspen gives up after about three seconds, and seeks refuge in Micky:
Aspen: I have no clue why you think that I of all people would know how to handle this.
Micky: She’s your best friend.
Aspen: Again with the “best friend” shit.
Micky: I have never met someone who’s so emotionally unavailable only to their friends.
Aspen: Don’t forget family.
Micky wants Aspen to sleep in her own apartment more often so that she and Pace don’t fall asleep with blunts in their mouth and burn the whole house down.
Pace wants to check and see if Erica got in okay, which always drives me nuts because listen, if her flight did not get in okay, it would be on the news. Whenever a well-meaning friend is like, “text me so I know you got in okay,” I’m like, “if we crash, I’m sure it’ll be on twitter.” Speaking of plane crashes, Micky hopes that Erica’s plane crashed into a mountain and Erica dies. Because Micky is perfect. Team Unemotional is gonna jet, leaving Becca alone to supervise the various risks Pace plans to undertake w/r/t her cardiovascular health. Because Becca is Liz Castle.
Micky’s gonna get new headshots with a random dude and Aspen is accompanying her in case he’s a serial killer. People in Los Angeles are always getting new headshots, and if their career isn’t going well, they’ll tell you that it’s because of their headshots but don’t worry they’re getting new headshots!!!!!
Aspen says it’s sketchy that the photographer is doing this for free, which’s true, but Micky’s not worried about it because she’s basically not worried about anything, ever.
Aspen: How many times do I have to tell you there’s no such thing as free headshots?
Micky: I’ve never paid for a single headshot and I never will. [beat] With money. I’ve never paid with money.
The photographer is, as expected, that kind of creepy guy who you think is gay for a minute and then you realize is definitely not gay but you wish he was gay so he would stop staring at your clavicle.
You know what’s hard? To write a funny recap of a funny scene, because like, the scene is already funny?
Aspen: This isn’t what headshots look like.
Bill: Pretend you’re snorkeling! “I got nothing but steaks in this fridge”!
Back in the House of Sad and Fog, Becca cleans up the drug-ridden despot of Pace’s sad heartbroken life while Pace remains sedentary on the couch. She probably had a weed strain Leafly would describe as a “couch-locker” or else some bitch pulled her heart out? Hard to say.
Then Becca does her yoga, puts her pants back on, and flees the joint.
Aspen and Micky return home to find Pace has yet to leave the couch. She probably has bedsores. Micky really wants to go out ’cause she’s hot and single and it’s Saturday night, and that’s the night when everybody gets a fever and wants to party hard. Or so I hear.
Then Pacey realizes that she’s a bird! This is a key step in the process of breaking up: realizing that you are a bird.
Pacey: Okay. She’s gone. She’s not even in the same state. I’m free to do what I want simply because I want to. No one’s gonna make me feel guilty about hanging with my friends, having lofty aspirations or orgasming multiple times.
I have no idea why it’d be a problem to orgasm multiple times, Erica is a monster.
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It is important to my health that this show continue.
in addition to buying becca a car charger i would also like to petition to buy everyone in the cast some nice pajamas because there was a lot of sleeping in jeans in this episode and it made me sad.
I already wrote up all my thoughts and feelings about the pilot in the Open Thread about it (before I read this even). I would just like to say, however, that this was a most excellent and satisfying recap. And also the picture captions were even more amazing than usual.
I think, Riese, that if you got hired by like The A.V. Club or something to just review television and music and movies all the time and couldn’t write for AS anymore, I might not even be sad*. That is how good you are at it.
*I actually would be quite sad, but also very excited. It would be a bittersweet sort of thing I guess. Luckily for us, you write about TV and everything else on AS already, so all the bases are covered.
Oh girl, I’m not writing about tv here because I couldn’t get a job doing so elsewhere / haven’t had offers, I’m here because I own this ship to the tune of 80 hours a week, love you weirdos (team and readers alike) and wanna make a difference in this silly world! And possibly because I’m a masochist determined to make my life as complicated as possible? Tbd.
Seeing stuff happen like someone wanting to make brittani’s show is part of what makes it all worth it though. Not to sound like a self help book but I think we strange queer geniuses are worth it, and every now and then the world gives us a nod. We are all just super happy for Brittani and the prospect of better queer tv.
Somehow my phone wants to auto correct Brittani to “brittana” don’t know what to think about that
Oh, I took your employability as, you know, an amazing writer to be a given, and I know how much (at least to the extent that you’ve talked about it on the site) of yourself you have put into the miracle that is Autostraddle.
I was just musing that if it eventually became too much, reading your excellent thoughts in other publications would soothe my sorrow; and that I would understand. I’ve been pondering the following Tori Amos quote lately: “But sometimes people want me to give them what their human value is. I can’t do that; it’s a bottomless pit. I could never pay you in fruit, land, money, or blowjobs what your worth as a human being is. And I’m not going to start opening up my veins and bleeding until they cry enough – because they may never cry enough!”
And you have indisputably made a huge difference in the world.
I have been having a lot of feelings this week, thank you for baring with me <3
PS: I misread and thought your phone auto-corrected 'Brittani' to 'Britannia', and I was all, "well, Brittani Rules, so that follows; and how nice that your phone has recognized her awesomeness!" : D
i love your feelings!
Wait so in California you can buy whiskey at the grocery store??? That’s amazing.
Also Riese your captions made the Words With Girls pilot even better which I didn’t know was possible.
I am *immediately* in love with this show and all its characters and want it to live forever (or at least to see another episode soon.)
I really really need there to be an episode two recap. Meaning I really really need there to be an episode two. Rarely do I enjoy a pilot so much, especially on the very first watch. Yay Brittani!
I agree with all of this!
also a v. atmospherically apt Mal Blum song while the airplane whooshes across the night sky.
It’s a sign!!!
“don’t hate crime me, but also, not welcoming any male suitors.”
Welp, I think they just described my “look”. Now I feel sad and amused at the same time.
Which is to say, this show’s comedy is is spot-on.
“Pace wants to check and see if Erica got in okay, which always drives me nuts because listen, if her flight did not get in okay, it would be on the news. Whenever a well-meaning friend is like, “text me so I know you got in okay,” I’m like, “if we crash, I’m sure it’ll be on twitter.””
CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS TO MY MUM KTHX
and oh man, if someone tried to pull Becca’s “omg why are you so upset” schitck I would be NOT HAPPY. And I totally understand the exhaustion of trying to not seem like you are pissed at petty things. sigh.
Yeah I was basically talking about my mom tbh
just wanted to express my public support for car chargers AND THIS PHENOMENAL RECAP OF THIS PHENOMENAL SHOW!!!
“oh, girl.” is right. that shit hit me right in the feels.
My girlfriend and I watched this tonight and our favorite part was when Aspen plugs Pace’s phone in after tucking her drunk ass in.
A) That’s such a good and thoughtful thing for a friend to do!
B) Also, great writing! If only Aspen’s girlfriend’s had someone with her at that party who cared enough to help her charge her phone.
Please let there be more of this show.
I am learning something new about lesbians and it is that we are all pretty interested in phone charging.