1003393_206028499587796_943403368_nSharing an apartment has its own advantages and disadvantages. While it provides those who occupy it a chance to share the same space without paying extra, there can be some painfully awkward moments if those people happen to be completely different from each other.

Neil Simon’s classic THE ODD COUPLE (in all its adaptations) hilariously depicted how two total opposites tried to co-exist without driving each other crazy. Now, the new comedy web series ROOMMATES puts a completely modern twist on the scenario, but the wacky moments and situations are ever present.

The series premiered at last June’s Inside Out LGBT Film Festival in Toronto, and made its online debut on January 8th via the Hey Audience Youtube channel. New episodes air each Thursday at 8 PM Eastern, with 9 scheduled for the show’s first season. (4 have aired so far).

Created and written by Liam Gareau, and co-starring Gareau and Ned Petrie, ROOMMATES follows two guys named, interestingly enough, Liam and Ned (played, of course, by Gareau and Petrie). Having been unceremoniously evicted from their apartment, Liam (who is gay) and Ned (who is straight) suddenly find themselves having to find a new place to live.

Unfortunately, their friendship is about to be turned upside down when Liam and Ned end up having to portray a gay couple in order to get a new apartment. Their new home turns out to be a cramped, one bedroom apartment that opens up a new set of problems for both. Making things even more complex is Ned’s girlfriend Leigh (Leigh Cameron).

14825_206045342919445_889665664_nAs a result, Liam grows increasingly frustrated over the amount of time Ned spends with Leigh. Combined with the seemingly undesirable living conditions Ned and Liam find themselves in inside their new apartment, their longtime friendship is put to the ultimate test.

The series also stars Jennifer Goodhue as Jennifer, an overly obnoxious landlady who makes life even harder for Liam and Ned, and Anders Yates as Liam’s boyfriend, Anders. Just in case you’re wondering why each character on ROOMMATES goes by the real life names of the actors who play them, Petrie has one explanation for that part of the show.

As he explains, that aspect of the series is primarily due to it being Gareau’s acting debut. “The real life Liam was concerned he’d have trouble with his dialogue, so he named all the characters after the actor playing the role. Like Tony Danza did on his shows.”

Adds Gareau: “This happened because, considering this was my first venture as an actor, I wasn’t the most confident and therefore didn’t even trust myself enough to make an audience believe that I would ever call Ned anything but, well…Ned,” he recalls. “It would be weird for me if I were to all of a sudden be like, Oh, hey! Glenn!’”

Produced by Gareau’s longtime friends Stuart Vaughan and Kyle Scott (who also directed) of the Hey Audience! production studio, ROOMMATES’ development came shortly after Gareau completed his studies at Toronto’s legendary Second City Training Centre writing conservatory. As Petrie remembers, Gareau’s concept would get a major assist from Vaughn, while providing the impetus to launch a new production company.

10868271_303299009860744_116040482360805700_n“Stu was one of the actors in Liam’s graduation showcase show, around the same time he was starting the Hey Audience production company with Kyle,” Petrie says.

“Once Hey Audience was ready to self-produce a real project, Stu suggested Liam write a web series around a premise Liam had been considering.”

However, the real inspiration for ROOMMATES came, innocently enough, from an “inside joke” that Gareau casually shared during a birthday party; one that eventually would become the basis for much of the show’s comedy. As Gareau explains, the joke revolved around co-star Leigh Cameron and her real life main squeeze.

“Our script supervisor, Amelia Haller, was having her birthday and I was there joking with some friends about Leigh (Cameron)’s boyfriend Nate, and about how cute I thought he was and how funny I thought it would be if for some reason we had to share one bedroom apartment and blah, blah, blah,” Gareau recalls.

“We essentially just kept riffing on the idea and Stu (Vaughan) said I should write it. And I did. Eventually. Because I am a lazy, lazy bastard.” Adds Petrie: “After that, Liam based much of the situational humor and more grounded aspects on his own relationships with friends (some of whom appear in the series as a version of themselves).”

Photo By Quantel Wronski

Photo By Quantel Wronski

Petrie feels that its humor, combined with an incredibly realistic portrayal of gay/straight friendships in modern times that’s rarely been seen elsewhere, is what truly makes ROOMMATES unique from other comedies of its type.

In fact, he says, that aspect alone is a key element that underscores the dynamic between the show’s two male protagonists, while providing ample opportunities for comedy.

“What sets ROOMMATES apart, in my opinion, is that it is about relationships that haven’t been explored much in traditional media. That of friends in an urban environment where one happens to be straight and the other happens to be gay,” says Petrie. “Their sexuality is not crucial in understanding the characters. It’s just a fact of who they are. Like how friendships are in real life among real people.”

With a cast comprised of talented comedic actors, many of whom Gareau and Petrie knew through The Second City in Toronto, ROOMMATES began production of its 9 episode first season. For Gareau, Vaughan and Scott, all of whom were first timers behind the camera, the process of bringing ROOMMATES to life provided plenty of opportunities for each to gain some much needed experience.

Photo By Quantel Wronski

Photo By Quantel Wronski

“Everything was shot in the minimal number of shooting days, but spread out a bit to fit it around our various full-time and part-time jobs,” Petrie says.

“Since it was Liam’s first time writing a series and Stu and Kyle’s first time directing, there were maybe a few hiccups along the way, but nothing too big.”

Knowing from experience just how tough and intimidating the task of producing any web series can be, Petrie marvels at just how well Gareau, Vaughan and Scott were able to get ROOMMATES from script to screen. Based on their success with ROOMMATES, he foresees continued growth for each.

“Having produced web and television content myself, it is not easy – but all three did an amazing job putting it together,” he adds. “They took a project from conception all the way through completion, and gained experience you can’t get any other way than diving in and doing it. I think their next project will be even better.”

1969262_239395236251122_2307780506735754735_nWhile Gareau, Petrie, Vaughan and Scott hope to build on their success with ROOMMATES, possibly with the goals of either developing it for TV, or continuing the series online, Gareau and Petrie feel that just getting the show’s first season shot and completed is a worthy accomplishment all its own.

“The primary goal with this show was really just to be proactive and make something. And make it good,” Gareau says. “From an artistic standpoint, my goal is always to learn from what I’ve done and get better. I’m proud of the show we’ve made and I hope people like it!”

Petrie concurs. “…Their/our goals are the same as in any project. To build the experience and improve our crafts,” he says, adding these words of wisdom to aspiring filmmakers who seek to make it in the industry:

“I think too many artists think that they can ride one project to get a ‘big break’. Their focus should just be on making each project good for the sake of building skills and developing their own talent.”

With comedy and situations that are remarkably reflective of modern life and modern male friendships in today’s society, ROOMMATES is truly one of a kind. As Petrie describes it, the most important aspect of the series lies not just in its humor, but especially in how it depicts the often fickle nature of all relationships – whether they be friendly or romantic.

“…If there’s an overall theme, it would be about how strange and fragile our relationships are. Everyone is looking for ways to improve their relationships or gain desired relationships they don’t have, but even the most important relationship is in many ways completely random and fluid,” he says. “We need each other, but we’re totally unprepared for them when our relationships change even slightly.”

(Note: The series is not currently closed-captioned.)

YOUTUBE (Hey Audience): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcf2Hzl9rb2WEJuzDLTfPRA

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/itsroommatesthewebseries

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/roommatesweb

To watch episode 1 of ROOMMATES, look below: