Queer Comedy Series These Thems Comes to Drafthouse

Screen season 1 with show creators and stars ahead of its premiere

Gretchen Wylder, coming from a musical theatre background and no film experience, started writing the day after Trump was elected. She remembers thinking at the time, “The only thing within my power right now is to use my art for change and to combat all that anger.”

Out of that personal battle came These Thems, a show that follows the lives of four queer friends – Gretchen, Vero, Asher, and Kevin – in New York City. It explores themes of queerness, gender identity, coming out, sexual empowerment, acceptance, and self expression. “The show was created to bring education and positive representation through humorous storylines so that people who are queer and people who are not queer can relate to these characters,” Wylder says.

l-r: Shaan Dasani, Vico Ortiz, Gretchen Wylder, and Nick Park in These Thems

“When this project came my way, even though I knew it was independent and low budget, I knew that the story was solid,” says director/producer Jett Garrison. “I connected with all the characters, and it was funny.”

Ahead of the show's Feb. 27 debut there will be Feb. 12 preview screening in Austin of the entire first season, presented by the All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival (aGLIFF). The night will be special for Garrison because Austin is his hometown. It’s also where he started his film career, getting his master’s in media studies and an MFA for film directing from the University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, aGLIFF previously screened the first three episodes of the series, and Garrison wanted to share the entire series with Austin.

These Thems was filmed in Brooklyn and Manhattan in 11 days, and, according to the show’s website, the entire filmmaking team was queer-identified, womxn, and/or POC. This was unlike many of Garrison’s past working experiences on Hollywood TV sets composed of predominantly white, cisgendered, hetero men.

But on the These Thems set, because everyone was part of the LGBTQ+ community, the crew worked harder to get the story told. “Everybody gave 110 percent.” Garrison says. “They brought it themselves because they were passionate about it.”

These Thems is Wylder’s passion project. It has also completely consumed her life. She wrote and created the series, and is also in charge of the show’s social media presence and website. If that weren’t enough, she plays the lead role of Gretchen, a 30-year-old, newly-out lesbian who befriends Vero, played by Vico Ortiz, a character who identifies as nonbinary and helps Gretchen navigate the queer world.

“So much of the show’s intention is to be bridging the gap between the straight, cisgendered world and the queer world,” Wylder says. “We deal with nonbinary identity, trans-masc identity, queer identity in a way that’s truly relatable to everyone.”

Although Wylder has started outlining ideas for season two, she says the goal right now is to get the show picked up by a network so she can get a writer’s room composed of people who reflect the characters onscreen.

“I did as much as I could as a cisgendered, white woman who has many friendships, relationships, and former relationships with people who are on the queer or trans spectrum,” Wylder says. “But when it comes to really diving deep into these worlds, we need writers who have experienced that in real life.”

For Garrison, the very inclusion of trans and other voices in These Thems is a political statement at a time when the LGBTQ+ community is still subject to discrimination and hate crimes.

“People forget the political climate and the allowance for hate crimes,” Garrison says. “Any way we can put our lives on screen, give a human face and a human connection to who we are as people, in my mind, is the only way we’re going to survive and come together.”

These Thems premieres its first episode on Thursday, Feb. 27, and will release new episodes weekly. Viewers will be able to stream it on the show’s website and on YouTube. Ahead of the series premiere, aGLIFF will host a screening of all seven episodes on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. The screening will be followed by a live Q&A with Garrison, Wylder, and producer Sophia Clark.

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These Thems, Gretchen Wylder, Jett Garrison

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