Life – and love – is never easy. That’s why many couples attempt to work out their problems with the help and guidance of professional therapists. However, as the new comedy series WORKING ON IT proves, the personal stories of such couples are just as interesting and compelling as the challenges they face. Produced by and co-starring Marzy Hart and Stacey Maltin, the series’ first season (four episodes) will soon debut on the new streaming platform Seeka.TV.
WORKING ON IT focuses on a group of young couples – one gay (Chad Carstarphen, Ron Tsur), one straight (Chinaza Uche, Alice Kremelberg), one lesbian (Hart and Maltin) and one polyamorous (played by Jasmine Pierce, Jessica Coghill and Michael Canfield) – as they try to find the advice they need to help them make sense of their already complicated lives and relationships.
For Hart, the idea for WORKING ON IT sprung from the chats she and her real life partner attended as they attempted to work out their own relationship issues. While they witnessed how discussing their troubles with a trusted counselor could help them improve their lives, they also considered how therapy could yield interesting insight on the struggles faced by other couples.
“I went to couples’ therapy with my partner and we were completely fascinated by the difference in us before we went in and when we came out,” recalls Hart. “We would always think, ‘this next couple has no idea what’s in store,’ because every session is so different, and things you totally didn’t intend on hashing out come up.”
After developing the show’s characters, Hart recruited Maltin to bring their stories to life in WORKING ON IT. “Once I had the concept for the show, I asked Stacey Maltin to write the screenplay, produce and act in the series,” says Hart, who praises Maltin’s overall talents, and her dedication to the series’ success.
“I adore working with her (Maltin). She’s brilliant at all the things you want in an artist and business partner,” Hart remarks. “We are so similar in our hunger to create and give people a voice, and yet, we are very different, so we create a well rounded team.”
Hart and Maltin approached each episode of WORKING ON IT as an exercise in observational storytelling. By extensively examining the goals and difficulties of its characters, and the ways that they try to cope with both aspects of their lives through therapy, the series spotlights the same problems we try to solve by seeking the guidance of someone who’s always ready to listen.
“Each episode creates a window into relationships and brings you relatable, honest, and sometimes funny character-driven experiences,” responds Hart. “Every character has their own secrets and quirks, so you’ll have to watch and get to know them yourself! We hope that by showing a fly-on-the-wall perspective of what makes and breaks others’ relationships, we’ll help to identify the experiences we all have in common.”
Hart and Maltin refer to web series like FRIENDS IN THERAPY, NASTY HABITS and KISSING IN THE RAIN, plus Amazon’s Emmy-winning TRANSPARENT and HBO’s GIRLS and IN TREATMENT as among their creative inspirations. Yet, they feel that WORKING ON IT’s unmistakably honest approach to its characters and their conflicts makes the series stand out from the rest.
“We (Hart and Maltin) wanted to tell our story authentically,” Hart says, adding that another key to the series’ success lies in how it reflects the lives of people from all backgrounds – including those of its talent.
“What I’m really proud of about WORKING ON IT is that we’ve addressed some serious and universal subjects in a light-hearted and approachable way, and that the group of people that put it together is representative of the subject matter we’re covering.”
As the casting phase of their production began, Hart and Maltin filled much of WORKING ON IT’s major roles with a mix of old and new collaborators. “Stacey and I are both actors, and our networks are full of amazing and talented people we’ve been wanting to work with or have enjoyed working with in the past. Some characters on the show were written with specific people in mind,” explains Hart. “Other cast members were found through our extended network.”
With filming of WORKING ON IT’s four episodes taking place over a two day period in Brooklyn, it was critical for Hart and Maltin to emphasize diversity on both sides of the camera. As the names and faces on-screen changed in each episode, so too did those of the people charged with bringing out the best from their actors. “We brought in a different director for each episode in order to represent a broader range of perspectives,” they say.
Although the constraints of time and space were evident during production, Hart and Maltin experienced the responsibilities and rewards that came with making their series their way. “Getting a taste of being a showrunner was invigorating, so we’re thirsty to shoot season two,” they add. “It was fun and challenging to look for ways to use space creatively in order to keep costs manageable. It got really crowded at times with the whole cast and crew, and I’m so proud of what we created.”
Through their hard work and involvement in the series, the combined talents of WORKING ON IT’s on-camera ensemble and off-camera production team have also helped both Hart and Maltin fulfill their commitment to making content that accurately portrays the lives of people from all backgrounds.
“Diversity and inclusiveness are important to us, so we focused on selecting a cast and crew that represent the world we live in,” Hart adds.
With Hart and Maltin looking to build upon the progress of WORKING ON IT’s first season, their exploration of the lives and loves of those in therapy is just beginning. “The first season was an introduction to complex, real characters,” they explain. “We’ve only scratched the surface, and in season two we are headed into darker territory. Watching people blunder is always funny, but expect to see more serious and closer-to-home scenarios explored.”
While we all have different problems, and while our lives will continue to be a mix of highs and lows, everyone can use someone to talk to. As proven by the characters and stories that make up WORKING ON IT, how we cope with life’s challenges is just as important as how we work towards understanding each other.
“We’re all people trying to make it in a changing and turbulent world,” says Hart and Maltin, describing their hopes for how the series will impact its audiences. “It doesn’t matter what you look like or who you love, if we’re going to make it through this we need to take care of each other. We hope that WORKING ON IT will help to bring people closer.”
(NOTE: Hart and Maltin say that WORKING ON IT will be closed-captioned.)