Can romance successfully co-exist with career needs in an unpredictable world? That question is humorously explored in the second season of the slice-of-life comedy series [BLANK] MY LIFE. Its 7 newest episodes are available on the show’s web page and YouTube channel (see additional links below), with a third season scheduled to begin production soon.
Season 2 resumes the eventful doings of a gifted yet unemployed artist named Susan (played by series writer/creator Alex Spieth). After the demise of her last relationship in season 1, Susan continues to play the dating game with her latest beau – a college law student (Ronnie, played by Donald Chang) who isn’t exactly Mr. Personality.
Despite the changing faces in her romantic pursuits, Susan’s best friend/marginally talented thespian Brendan (Benjamin Viertel) remains at her side. So does her endlessly supportive father, (Paul Albe), mother (Carol Linnea Johnson) and sister, Muff (portrayed by Taylor Rose).
Getting in the way of Susan and Brendan’s quests for happiness, though, are some interesting new obstacles. Those include Susan’s pal from college-turned excruciating annoyance, RN (Michelle Veintimilla, GOTHAM), and upstart actor Robert (Dylan S. Wallach). Robert’s friend, the outrageous StarF*cker (played by Jake Boyd), also headlines a new Hollywood movie that bears his unmistakable name.
Meanwhile, as Brendan faces a challenging path towards his end goal of attending the prestigious Yale School of Drama, his estranged former buddy Kyle (Matt Dengler) has already entered the school’s doors. Even worse for Brendan, his ex-girlfriend Fontina (played by Megan Masako Haley) has won showbiz success.
Driven to take back her life after a personal crisis, Spieth became motivated to fuel [BLANK] MY LIFE’s development. “I needed to create a show because I needed something to make me feel like I was again in control of my destiny, rather than feeling like I was washed up at the age of 23,” she explains. “While I so badly wanted something to happen, even if it didn’t, I could very easily see looking back at this time and seeing it as the thing that saved my life and confidence.”
In making [BLANK] MY LIFE, Spieth found creative freedom, plus the strength to bravely share her impressive talents with the world. “When no one is telling you ‘yes, girl,’ you have to be that person,” Spieth responds. “Creating a series was the way I validated myself and (it’s how) continue to validate myself. It’s made me smarter and stronger against the opponents I have, and means that I’m more about to enter rooms with an army on my back.”
Compared to its first season of shows, [BLANK] MY LIFE takes on a different style of narrative storytelling. “This season explores a linear storyline, rather than being vignette based,” says Spieth. In addition to the way its new characters become the focus of Susan’s life during season 2, the series fearlessly tackles serious issues. “This season, while still comedic, explores subject matter like female pleasure and rape culture,” she adds.
[BLANK] MY LIFE’s evolving narrative approach first manifests itself in every script. “The second season was more of an experiment in playing with a longer, cohesive storyline and developing a through line through an hour and a half time frame,” recalls Spieth. That said, the shift towards ongoing storylines didn’t come without some hiccups. “I had written the season in the same vignette style, which made it harder to string together. The third season is the first that I’ve written from beginning to end with cohesion.”
With this season’s episodes running longer than those of its first series, [BLANK] MY LIFE’s production was also an opportunity for Spieth to challenge herself in filmmaking aesthetics.
“I’ve seen each season as a different experiment,” she remembers. “The first season was all vignettes so it was a training ground for getting self-contained episodes to shine and be as polished as they could be without having any budget.”
New York City has long been a rich resource for filmmakers to partner with upstart and established actors, and several of those performers are already familiar to Spieth. “All my friends are actors, so I just sent emails (to them), crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best,” remembers Spieth.
As every filmmaker who calls The Big Apple home realizes, no project is immune to the hazards of wintry weather. Those who find creative ways to work around those hazards, though, can find surprises in unexpected places. Spieth made such a discovery before filming of [BLANK] MY LIFE’s fourth episode. “In one case, we were driving upstate and one of the actors couldn’t make it due to snow. We cast our production manager (in a guest starring role as a killer) and she killed it.”
During season 2, Spieth also expanded her production crew beyond those she usually collaborated with. “This year was the first time I employed DP’s and sound engineers who weren’t close friends, and I used a variety of directors,” she says, cautioning that such an arrangement may be put aside for the show’s soon-to-launch third season. “While I was super proud of the results, I’m more interested in trying to wrap back around to the smaller team mentality of the first season.”
Finally blessed with the dollars to create a higher quality production in [BLANK] MY LIFE’s second season, Spieth still experienced the challenges of making her own project.
“This was my first year working with a budget, and I found it significantly less stressful in most cases, and very tricky in others. In the first season, there was never any money, so we would be pushed to the limit time-wise and up super late cranking the episodes out to meet the deadlines.”
This time, having to beat the clock was one less thing for Spieth to worry about. “This year, I never worried about meeting deadlines–everyone was professional, communicative, and great,” she replies.
Despite a more efficient shoot, a new problem arose during season 2; one Spieth says she aims to correct during production of [BLANK] MY LIFE’s later episodes. “…There was less passion about the project in certain cases. While that’s totally understandable, I’m trying to work this year to make sure that my team is individually motivated about the series.”
With [BLANK] MY LIFE’s third season in the works, Spieth encourages filmmakers to take control of their stories – and to make content without having to please the old Hollywood gatekeepers. “I would want to send the message that you can do it. It’s not that hard,” Spieth says. “Honestly, the only thing you need to do is send a few emails, and it will be amazing how quickly things will snowball. The greatest blessing of the 21st Century get-down is the iPhone, and its ability to capture the modern truth. Get out there and get dirty, y’all.”
With her series, Spieth also aims to provide her cast and crew with room to thrive. “In trying to resolve my need to be famous/successful, I’ve tried to think of success in terms of employing my friends,” she explains. “There are a million people I know who haven’t gotten the chance to show the world how gorgeous, vibrant, and unreal they are. That’s the thing that is currently the most important to me. I hope (that) as I get more and more powerful, I continue to employ the people I love most and who grew up with me. They are the most beautiful people I know.”
Note: Spieth says that season 2 of (BLANK) MY LIFE is not closed-captioned; however, she adds that season 3 may include that feature in each of its episodes.
ON THE WEB: http://www.blankmylifetheseries.com/