Have you ever wondered what life as a preschooler would have been like for the kids of BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 (or its recent revival), or for that matter, any of the popular teen soaps that have aired in the past? The new satirical comedy web series CandyLand presents that scenario as it tells the story of the young students of Southern California’s most elite preschool: the Pacific Palisades Palace, where amidst the classrooms and the playground, there’s plenty of backstabbing, betrayal and jealousy to go around. The show, created by Damian Horan, Ali Scher and Win Bates, has already launched on Youtube, with 500+ subscribers – and counting – among the series’ viewers. Seven episodes are scheduled for the show’s first season, and the creators hope to get additional funding and wider distribution for the show’s second season.
CandyLand stars a talented cast of young performers, led by Katherine Manchester as Ema, the school’s newest student who tries to stand out in the new world she’s entered, one of privilege, glamour and wealth – all at an early age. Her new classmates include Lucy (played by Tatum Hentemann), heartthrob Pear (played by Mikey Effie, whose role the creators describe as Luke Perry of BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 and Ben McKenzie of THE O.C. wrapped into one), spoiled rich kid Beckham (Wes Watson), Shayna Chapman as the school’s resident vegan Kale. Rounding out the cast are the show’s two ‘backstabbing b*tches’, a.k.a. the Bethanies: Mma-Syrai Alek & Gracie Hall.
Inspired by the over-the-top melodrama of popular teen soaps like 90210, DAWSON’S CREEK, and THE O.C., plus the popular late ‘80s-mid ‘90s comedy SAVED BY THE BELL, Horan, Scher and Bates created CandyLand as a way to poke fun of the aforementioned shows’ penchant for making even the little things seem way too important. “CandyLand is part of a genre familiar to most people, especially those who grew up on Beverly Hills 90210. We twist that genre by using preschool kids in place of teens. The show is partly a commentary about how young children are growing up too fast, part nostalgia for 90’s teen drama, and part just guilty fun of watching little kids say incredibly inappropriate things. The characters are our takes on classic teen icons like Dylan McKay (90210), Ryan Atwood (THE O.C.), Heather Chandler (from the ‘80s teen comedy HEATHERS) and Regina George (MEAN GIRLS),” they say.
The show’s talented young cast is key to the show’s effectiveness, according to Horan, Scher and Bates. “Our little stars are one of the best parts of CandyLand. We really couldn’t have done this show without such an amazing cast of talented tots,” they say. Production of the series proved to be more fun than work, which made for a memorable experience for the cast and crew. “We all had a fantastic time shooting CandyLand. We really came together as a family during the shoot. It was more like a long party than going to work. The kids brought such excitement and fun to the set…it was contagious! We were all very sad when it ended,” they say.
CandyLand will appeal not only to those who grew up on those shows, but also today’s pre-teens who haven’t yet become familiar with the classics. “We think anyone who ever watched shows like Saved by the Bell, Dawson’s Creek, The O.C. or My So Called Life will love this show. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the show really hits home with the pre-teen audience. They might not appreciate the vintage parodies, but get truly invested in the pre-teen drama. These seem to be some of our most avid and surprising fans,” the show’s creators say, and while they hope for continued success for CandyLand, the experience of producing a tongue in cheek spoof of the teen dramas they grew up with was rewarding in itself. “The desire to make money is there, but none of us signed on to the project thinking we would sell it and retire on the residuals. It’s a funny concept realized by a talented group of passionate people — everything else is just gravy. We had so much fun writing the show, working with the kids and the crew and hanging out with each other. We’d love to do it all over again, especially with the money to make it truly shine,” they say.
ON THE WEB: www.candylandwebseries.com