The city of West Hollywood, California is home to a large part of the Golden State’s LGBTQ community. It’s a place that has also inspired screenwriter/director/actor Brandon Kirby to create I’M FINE, an ensemble-based comedy/drama series that authentically explores the eventful lives of longtime friends living in “WeHo”.

Now in its second season, all 8 new episodes of I’M FINE can be seen exclusively on gay-centered subscription video platform Dekkoo (see link below). At $9.99 a month, Dekkoo can also be accessed on platforms such as Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Roku and Google Play.

Upon its premiere in 2016, I’M FINE’s first season received high praise from prominent LGBTQ media outlets, including Los Angeles-based periodical The Pride and national web site Having produced 2 seasons of the show, Kirby has not ruled out doing a third. “We are in early talks about the possibility of a season 3,” he says.

I’M FINE stars Perry Powell as Nate, a friendly yet highly myopic young adult who’s struggled to recover from his breakup with ex-boyfriend Joey (played by Shaughn Buchholz). With his actions only complicating the already difficult situation he finds himself stuck in, Nate falls back on the support of his friends Jeff (Lee Doud) and Nicole (Brittney King).

Perry Powell stars as Nate in season 2 of the acclaimed Dekkoo web series I'M FINE.

Perry Powell stars as Nate in season 2 of the acclaimed Dekkoo web series I’M FINE.

When Jeff unexpectedly reveals his long-hidden romantic affection for his close friend, though, Nate’s life is thrown into even more turmoil. Meanwhile, Nicole makes a new acquaintance in Andy (played by Richard Stokes), who enjoys a good time as much as he does his thriving romance with boyfriend Brian (Ulysses Morazan).

As season 2 of I’M FINE explores the challenges of friendship, love and family life for its characters, some interesting newcomers enter the world they inhabit. There’s the self-described “bro gay” Louis (Matthew Boehm). While he shares the same apartment with Jeff, Louis’ outgoing nature serves him well on the dating scene.

His pal Zachary (Will Branske) is, according to Kirby, “essentially Nate 2.0. (He possesses) the qualities of Nate without all the neuroses, and becomes a potential new love interest for Jeff.” Speaking of potential new love interests, Nate may have unknowingly landed one in a charming stranger named Mick (Frankie Rodriguez).

In creating I’M FINE, Kirby recalled one of his more memorable romantic flings. “The initial inspiration for the first episode of I’M FINE was a hookup I had, not dissimilar to the hookup Nate has in the first episode,” Kirby remembers. “At that time, I had been living in L.A. for about three years and was drawing a lot of inspiration from my own life and experiences that I felt if done right, people could relate to and think, ‘oh, yeah, I’ve been through that – how funny.”

Kirby’s own memories of life and love in WeHo, as well as those of I’M FINE’s core ensemble, form the basis for much of the series’ dramatized elements. “The core of the situations and characters in I’M FINE, a number of them at least, are inspired by personal experiences either I’ve had, or people I know in my life have had,” Kirby explains. “The show and the cast evolves them beyond their real-life reference points to become something wholly original, but the core idea sometimes is rooted in situations I’ve seen.”

Shaughn Buchholz co-stars as Joey, the estranged ex-boyfriend of Nate (Perry Powell) in season 2 of I'M FINE.

Shaughn Buchholz co-stars as Joey, the estranged ex-boyfriend of Nate (Perry Powell) in season 2 of I’M FINE.

Despite LGBTQ characters enjoying more authentic portrayals in mainstream media, there are currently no broadcast or cable TV series with predominantly LGBTQ ensembles. For Kirby, the abrupt cancelation of one such show would be the biggest reason why he decided to make I’M FINE.

“The main inspiration for me (to create I’M FINE) was, and still is, a lack of LGBTQ representation in TV and film,” he says. “We’ve made great strides over the year, but it’s still baffling to me that once HBO’s LOOKING went off the air, there has yet to be a show with a main LGBTQ cast on a major network to fill that void.”

I’M FINE’s true-to-life look at people faced with identifiable personal dilemmas is, in Kirby’s view, the key ingredient of its success. “I’M FINE is honest and relatable. It’s not over the top. These characters are lived-in, and hopefully audiences are able to see a bit of themselves in them even if they don’t necessarily want to.”

That realism, adds Kirby, gives I’M FINE the opportunity to appeal to viewers across every spectrum. “I think I’M FINE is not only for gay audiences, who will obviously get the most out of the show, but beyond that, I think specificity breeds universality, and that can be found here.”

While the character of Nate was central to I’M FINE’s first season, Kirby says that season 2 of the drama structures itself around the people who co-exist beside Nate. “Viewers can expect to learn a lot more about the supporting cast of characters who orbit Nate in his world. While season one was very Nate-centric, in this season he takes sort of a backseat to his own story, which allows the other characters to have their own emotional arcs.”

I'M FINE's ensemble cast. Top row, L-R: Andy (Richard Stokes), Brian (Ulysses Morazan, Jeff (Lee Doud). Bottom row, L-R: Joey (Shaughn Buchholz), Nate (Perry Powell), Nicole (Brittney King).

I’M FINE’s ensemble cast. Top row, L-R: Andy (Richard Stokes), Brian (Ulysses Morazan), Jeff (Lee Doud). Bottom row, L-R: Joey (Shaughn Buchholz), Nate (Perry Powell), Nicole (Brittney King).

One critical addition to I’M FINE’s production team would help Kirby successfully refine how the series told its stories in its second season.

“We had a casting director this season, which allowed us to not only introduce these new main characters but also to fill out the world in general,” remembers Kirby. “There are many minor players who help progress the narrative, including Nate’s roommates, parents and a stern editor who he goes to interview with.”

Stylistically, I’M FINE’s production techniques have undergone noticeable improvement since season 1 was completed. “Since we had a bigger budget going into season 2, I think viewers will also notice an upgrade in production value, in terms of variety of locations, and even the look of the show,” explains Kirby.

Time-wise, the speed of I’M FINE’s production also improved. Though the shorter schedule made for a more efficient filming process, that still didn’t mean said process was easy. “We shot scenes and episodes out of order to work with locations and actor schedules, which created a whole new set of challenges from season 1,” Kirby notes. “The first season we shot on weekends over the course of about 8 months; the issue there was continuity. We definitely preferred the one-week production shoot of season 2, even if it was more rigorous.”

Described by Kirby as a “pocket web series” that’s made to fit into the busy schedules of its viewers, I’M FINE makes the most of the limited time it does have in each episode (typically 11 minutes, give or take) to chronicle the journeys of its key characters. While fans of I’M FINE can easily enjoy the show at their convenience, Kirby knows that it’s much harder to script a series that runs the length of a typical act on an hour-long TV drama.

“…It is challenging to fit the emotional and narrative punch we want to in the confined amount of time,” explains Kirby. “I have to write economically and make sure every scene counts.” When Kirby’s scripted words turn into filmed scenes during production, the limited length of each episode’s teleplay allows for a lighter work load on the set. “The main advantage (of doing a short form series) is obviously we’re not shooting as many pages if the show were, say, a full 30 minutes,” he adds.

Brandon Kirby, creator/writer/director of I'M FINE.

Brandon Kirby, creator/writer/director of I’M FINE.

In an overall sense, I’M FINE has enjoyed the monetary and promotional advantages of its exclusive partnership with gay-centered streaming video platform Dekkoo. Without those benefits, Kirby believes that I’M FINE could never have been as successful as it is today.

“Having the financial backing was obviously a huge help to allow us to make the show we wanted to make, and (to) pay all the cast & crew, which was really important to us,” Kirby remarks. “The series being on Dekkoo gives us exposure we wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Thanks to the success of I’M FINE, Kirby is driven to continue his pursuit of realistically chronicling the LGBTQ experience via his current series and future projects. “In a perfect world, the series gets enough attention to either become a full-blown production or something that gets even more exposure on a larger platform. This serves as just a launching pad for something bigger. I just want to keep telling LGBTQ stories.”

Using his characters and their stories as guideposts for the show’s viewers, Kirby feels that I’M FINE will effectively do its part to help people persevere through all of life’s rough patches. “You’re not in this alone. Even through all the anxiety, stress, breakups, friend fallouts – we all go through it,” replies Kirby. “Instead of internalizing all of it, take it in stride and learn to laugh. Take any setback and turn it into inspiration.”

To watch season 2 of I’M FINE on Dekkoo, visit: