Sisters Rooney and Kate Mara are two of Hollywood’s most successful stars, but most importantly, they’re also family. Though their fans can only wonder about what happens in the Maras’ personal lives, it’s extremely plausible that the two siblings have had their own spats from time to time – like all sisters do. That probability plays out in the wacky new comedy series Two-Mara, starring Sarah Skeist (as Kate) and Jewells Blackwell (as Rooney) in a side-splitting parody of both the Mara sisters and different visual-based genres.

The 5 episode first season of Two-Mara (which premiered February 26th on YouTube) spotlight the kindly Kate’s futile attempts to find common ground with her otherwise surly sibling Rooney in skits that spoof everything from the ever-popular “unboxing” videos to hidden camera prank shows. Written by Skeist, produced by Lindsay-Elizabeth Hand (of Edge In Motion Productions) and directed by Georgia Warner, Two-Mara also shows how incredibly far some siblings go to win each other’s respect and love.

Blackwell’s admiration of Rooney Mara’s cinematic performances (The Social Network, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, among many), and her longing to play characters like those Rooney played on screen, kick-started Skeist’s work on what eventually became Two-Mara

L-R: New comedy web series TWO-MARA co-stars Sarah Skeist (as Kate Mara) and Jewells Blackwell as Rooney Mara - both comedically exaggerated versions of the two stars, of course.

L-R: New comedy web series TWO-MARA co-stars Sarah Skeist as Kate Mara and Jewells Blackwell as Rooney Mara – both comedically exaggerated versions of the two stars, of course.

“When Jewells Blackwell (my co-star in the show) and I were talking about Rooney Mara one day, and Jewells lamented how Rooney plays all the parts that she would totally play if she were famous, I instantly got the idea for Two-Mara,” remembers Skeist.

As Blackwell did with her role as Rooney Mara, Skeist instantly adapted to playing Kate Mara (House of Cards, 24, Fantastic Four) in Two-Mara. While both actors played exaggerated representations of the Maras, Skeist’s turn as the eldest Mara sister has much in common with the person she is off-camera.

“I would say that as Kate Mara developed as a character for me, it reflected how I feel sometimes,” Skeist says. “I’m a pretty neurotic person who is also kind of a Jewish mother in training, and writing a character who lets other people and her own insecurities drive her absolutely mad. Yeah, I’d say that draws from personal experience, just a bit.”

That personal experience includes Skeist’s memories of playing her biggest role: that of a sister in real life. “I’d also say that my brothers have always been the most important friendships in my life,” she comments. “I’m very lucky that way. So the theme of sibling relationships finds its way into my writing pretty often, sometimes without me realizing it.”

Fascinated by Two-Mara‘s being set in a world where the already famous Mara sisters become feuding YouTubers, Skeist used the concept to examine how the connection between the famous and their fans gets closer through digital content while it still remains relatively distant away from cyberspace.

“I do find the question of public vs. private life interesting, especially as it relates to YouTube and various home video genres,” Skeist explains. “I liked the idea of these famous sisters needing another form of living publicly, and I guess if (fake) Kate really needs that kind of validation from her sister, it makes sense that she would be drawn to that feedback loop you get from putting your personal life online.”

TWO-MARA co-star/writer/creator Sarah Skeist.

TWO-MARA co-star/writer/creator Sarah Skeist.

While Hollywood and pop culture references pepper each episode of Two-Mara, Skeist says that one of the primary inspirations for the show’s development is the relatable humor found in her favorite digital comedies.

“I love watching web content, and I especially love shows that have so many fun references, but they don’t really care if you know what they’re referring to. An example is Chris Fleming’s web series, Gayle, which plays on New England suburban housewives, but you don’t have to have personal experience with that culture to find it hilarious.”

Nor do you have to compete for big movie roles with your sibling to laugh at Two-Mara, adds Skeist. Yet, she notes, the show’s explorations of sibling rivalry and female friendships make it especially genuine.

“Comedy-wise, I think the humor in Two-Mara is weird, silly, and based on deep wounds that I believe viewers could relate to, especially as the show goes on. I love that this show allows the characters to be hilarious and strange and off-putting on their own terms and about random sh*t, rather than how they relate to men.”

While the Maras’ filmographies would provide ample inspiration to anyone attempting to parody the two actor siblings, neither Skeist nor Blackwell used the Maras’ past on-screen character portrayals to inform how they would play Kate and Rooney (respectively) in Two-Mara. Though Skeist and Blackwell prepped for their performances by studying the real life personalities of the Maras, they took a decidedly light-hearted approach to parodying both stars.

“We watched interviews, worked on certain traits, and just tried to have fun with it. It was really important to me that this isn’t seen as a ‘roast’ or some kind of perfect ‘impression’ of them, because I want people who aren’t familiar with the Mara sisters to enjoy the show. So beyond a few traits and wonderful hair/makeup by our make-up artist Leilani Sunglao, we tried to make these characters our own. I think we ended up with something fun.”

When Skeist and Blackwell developed their depictions of Kate and Rooney, however, they found some distinctive similarities between their own professional qualities and that of the Mara sisters. “Their past film and TV roles were more relevant to me coming up with the idea in the first place, since we realized that Jewells is right for all of Rooney’s roles, and I’m right for a lot of Kate’s,” responds Skeist.

Art also imitated life for Skeist in making one of Two-Mara‘s send-ups. “There’s an exchange in episode 2, which parodies unboxing videos, where Kate has no idea how unboxing videos work,” says Skeist. “Rooney says, ‘why didn’t you watch one first?’ and Kate says, ‘because they’re unwatchable!’ I personally find unboxing videos completely ridiculous and have yet to be able to finish one, despite writing this episode. I tried, but man, I just couldn’t get through it. So I kind of made that video about how awful they are. Self-care, I guess.”

Made with a majority female production crew, Two-Mara – and the performances of its two co-leads – were fine-tuned and perfected every which way until “action!” was called on the first day of shooting. Hand and Warner were critical partners in Skeist’s efforts to get each script ready for filming.

Jewells Blackwell portrays a hilarious version of actor Rooney Mara (THE SOCIAL NETWORK, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) in the new comedy web series TWO-MARA.

Jewells Blackwell portrays a hilarious version of actor Rooney Mara (THE SOCIAL NETWORK, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) in the new comedy web series TWO-MARA.

“I told (Hand) about the idea early on, and when I had written 5 episodes that I liked, I showed it to Georgia Warner, our multi-talented friend who directed the series. We workshopped the script, honing in on the characters and sharpening the jokes,” Skeist says.

Hand’s collaborators further boosted the look, sound and feel of Two-Mara. “When it became time for production, Lindsay put together a fantastic team from (director of photography) Michael Mastroserio, to character coach Max Brand (Upright Citizens’ Brigade veteran), to editor Kristopher Knight,” adds Skeist. “She (Hand) made the whole production process an absolute dream for me as a creator! I’ve always respected Georgia and Lindsay’s work and loved both of them as people, so it was a joy to work closely with my talented friends.”

A comedy series’ success isn’t just determined by laughter. It’s also determined by the effect it has on viewers. While Skeist definitely wants people to guffaw at the hysterical hijinks of Two-Mara, she feels that the show can also help every sibling get closer – even if you, your sister (or brother) isn’t famous. 

“Honestly, I (hope people get) that feeling I get from watching a Chris Fleming video (from watching Two-Mara); that raucous ‘WTF?!’ belly laugh that tickles me in my brain and heart, and maybe a bit more compassion for that annoying sister who just wants a little love.”

NOTE: Regarding closed-captioning/subtitling of Two-Mara, Skeist says: “Currently the YouTube videos are not subtitled, but we plan to (add subtitles) on all of our Facebook uploads.”

Watch episode 2 of Two-Mara here: