Through social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest, plus those popular voice-based virtual assistants named Siri and Cortana, modern technology has dramatically altered and enhanced the way people communicate all over the world. Just as we’ve come to rely on such platforms to make our daily lives easier, there are also moments where technology can make life even more complicated.
As evidenced by the hilarious new comedy LIVING THROUGH THE LENS, those moments can also be quite humorous. Created by and co-starring Kira McCarthy and Rebecca Blaine Carton, and now streaming its first 8 episodes on its official web site, Funny or Die and Youtube pages (see additional links below), McCarthy and Carton play a wide variety of characters who experience just how awkward, bizarre and wacky life in the wired world can be.
Each memorable sketch depicts how the lives of their characters, and those they meet with, are touched by technology – for better or worse.
In addition to the existing 8 episodes (so far) of the series, special content, including impromptu “woman on the street” chats, plus in-depth conversations with special guests like the voice of Siri herself, Susan Bennett (more on that ahead) is also available for viewers. The series will also appear at this September’s Miami Web Fest, and at Vermont’s ITVFest in October.
With many of their personal and public encounters with technology serving as source material, McCarthy and Carton began to generate story ideas for LIVING THROUGH THE LENS. “Being a human in the modern world is hilarious, but (it’s) also sad, especially the isolation that goes along with the social media vacuum,” they respond. “We decided to turn some of that anxiety and overwhelm with technological advancement into a comedy project.”
Those encounters also play heavily into the various roles that McCarthy and Carton portray in every episode. “Most of the characters we play on the show are based on an exaggerated aspect of our own personalities or on real-life people we’ve met,” the show’s co-stars/co-creators explain, adding that each of the different stories featured in LIVING THROUGH THE LENS depict just how much of a toll technology can take on those who use it regularly.
“Most of the episodes feature one person who is completely dependent on technology, contrasted with another character who is mystified by it, or disturbed by the other character’s dependency and obsession with it,” they say. “We also like to play characters that are emotionally affected by social media and technology as a way to examine what we believe a lot of people experience when on Facebook, or when texting with someone, etc.”
McCarthy and Carton don’t just assume starring roles in LIVING THROUGH THE LENS. They also write and produce each episode, along with overseeing other major aspects of its production. For both actors, every phase of developing what goes on screen comes with equal amounts of apprehension and anticipation.
“The production process has been incredibly fun, scary, exciting, and nerve-wracking all at once,” they say. “Our writing process consists of pitching each other several sketch concepts, then dividing up those pitches to write a first draft. Then we collaborate on the pieces, often reading them aloud to find the characters and dynamics. Once we have the script, the hard part is finding the right crew to shoot the piece and enough money to pay them.”
Although doing so on a limited budget can be tricky, they say that making their own material on their own terms has proven to be extremely beneficial for both. “It has been an incredibly empowering and satisfying experience since we started creating out own work,” McCarthy and Carton remark. “We can both say that we have written, produced, acted in, directed and edited quality videos, and that feels really good.”
As you might expect, technology plays heavily into the comedy and characters featured throughout season 1 of LIVING THROUGH THE LENS. “Social media, new apps and technological phenomena all inspire us in writing the series,” the show’s producers add. “Some of the episodes, like ‘Social GPS’, about a GPS device that helps awkward people navigate job interviews, are our fantasies about what the future could be like, as we keep barreling towards more and more of a device centered culture.”
During production of its first season, LIVING THROUGH THE LENS experienced further growth thanks to McCarthy and Carton’s own usage of social networks like Facebook and Twitter; something truly fitting for a show dedicated to poking fun at how such aspects of today’s modern communications landscape impacts our daily lives.
“The irony of the series is that social media has played a huge role in the production of the show! We’ve met quite a few people through Twitter who’ve been instrumental in developing the series, in one way or another. So, the act of creating it has forced us to cozy up to technology a bit more,” they say.
Twitter also played a major part in the creation of McCarthy and Carton’s in-depth interview with voiceover artist Susan Bennett (aka the voice of Siri), who followed them on the popular social networking site. In turn, the show’s co-stars reached out to Bennett, who participated in a special Skype “interview” that spoofs Bravo’s long-running interview program INSIDE THE ACTORS’ STUDIO. In it, Carton lampoon its equally famous, and oft-parodied host, James Lipton.
A longtime fan of ITAS, Carton took full advantage of the chance to do her own unique comedic take on the series’ host and format. “Because up until this point we had created fictional comedic content, we wanted to get a straight interview with Susan, because she has such a fascinating life, but also maintain the playfulness and comedy of our sketch series,” recalls McCarthy and Carton. “So we came up with the idea for Rebecca to impersonate James Lipton and interview Susan as if she was on INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO.”
While 8 episodes of LIVING THROUGH THE LENS are already available to stream, more of the same wacky hijinks that viewers have already come to expect from McCarthy and Carton are soon to hit screens. “We are in pre-production for our ninth episode entitled ‘Shae and Bae Go Viral’, and it is a comedic look at two clueless sisters who attempt to make an epic video that will go viral,” the show’s creators add. “The episode will feature a past viral star, and those who want to know who it is will have to watch!”
The most recent episode of the series, titled “Get Up, Bitch”, co-stars McCarthy as Peg, and Carton as Mel, two execs at a venture capital firm who encounter a determined salesman named Donald Klonopin (played by THE OFFICE’s Andy Buckley). Having created a “tough love” motivational app called “Get Up, Bitch!”, Klonopin seeks to get Mel and Peg’s support for his product in an incredibly persuasive – and sometimes, very loud – presentation.
That episode also serves as the launching pad for what will become their newest comedic project, called GOT PITCH. “The series will feature different entrepreneurs who try and pitch their idea for the next big app and/or product,” McCarthy and Carton say, describing GOT PITCH’s concept. “We have been writing the treatment for the series, and are currently working with an agency to finalize the treatment, and start shopping it around.”
Regardless of how old you are, or how adept you may or may not be when it comes to technology, LIVING THROUGH THE LENS is sure to achieve what every comedy sets out to do, no matter what story, setting or characters are featured: to make people laugh.
“In general, anyone with a sense of humor will get a kick out of this web series, because at the end of the day, it encourages all of us to take a step back and laugh at ourselves,” McCarthy and Carton add.
Just as important to McCarthy and Carton is how LIVING THROUGH THE LENS will impact people who’ve become too dependent on apps, social media, smart phones and texting. In a world where one-on-one human conversation has too often taken a back seat to the convenience and pleasures of sitting in front of a screen, the show’s co-stars/co-creators hope that their series will get viewers to think about just what – and who – they’re missing in real life.
“One thing we both worry about is that with more and more tech inventions, people will become more isolated from each other and less reliant on themselves to actively do things in the world besides staring at a screen,” McCarthy and Carton say. “We hope that this series, in addition to providing lots of laughs, encourages people to have more conversations face to face, look at screens a little less, relate to one another a little more, and remember that objects on the screen are often not what they appear.”
(Note: Regarding closed-captioning/subtitling of LIVING THROUGH THE LENS, the show’s creators say: “The show is not currently closed-captioned. We are certainly open to that but no one has requested it yet.”)
To help McCarthy and Carton make even more hilarious videos, please visit their Patreon page at this address:
ON THE WEB: http://livingthruthelens.com
FUNNY OR DIE: http://www.funnyordie.com/livingthruthelens