Newly fueled by a Kickstarter campaign, the show is in its second season and gloriously spiraling into new depths of absurdity as Mona and Jean claw their way to the top, blithely unaware of the evil plot lurking in the background.
office is pleased to premiere episode 4, entitled “Semper Fidelity,” and as part of the release, we asked the show’s co-creator, writer, producer, and co-star Leah Hennessey about the show, its influences, and where she hopes it will go next.
Can you start by telling me a bit about how the show was born and how you feel it’s developed since your first episode?
Ruby (McCollister, who plays Mona), Emily (Allan, who plays Chewie), and I had been in a theater group together, and we wanted to make a show that was draggy and vulgar and fun and trashy and easy. We enlisted our friend E.J. (O’Hara) to direct the show, thinking that, as an artist and not a film person, he would make it look cool and not slow us down with film production standards. I guess we didn’t really consider what a precise and ambitious artist he was, and the “easy” part of making Zhe Zhe pretty much stopped with the first episode. Every time we come up with something we want to do on the show I feel like it’s beyond our abilities. The musical episode (Season 1 Episode 6) nearly broke up the band, but somehow we always pull it off.
We used to be really militant about being alienating, using our grab bag of Brechtian tools to ensure that no one ever empathized with the characters, but we’ve kind of let that go. Culture has changed so radically since 2013 and we no longer think escapist, emotionally manipulative, cathartic, narrative fiction is the Big Bad. Now the world is more Zhe Zhe than we are. Post-Trump it's hard to have faith in absurdity as a tool of mental liberation.