Entertainment

Dolly Alderton and Phoebe Robinson in adapting their memoirs for television – The Hollywood Reporter

At first glance, Trash of everything and Everything I Know About Love seem most similar for their title, two potential monikers for a “Who’s First” style conundrum. Both series deal with the dangers and pleasures of being young in the big city. Trash of everythingThe protagonist of Phoebe, a popular podcaster living in New York City, is at a peculiar intersection of young adulthood, where the career momentum has yet to translate into the life she is hoping for; but on the contrary Everything I Know About LoveMaggie’s has just moved to London with three (clumsy) girlfriends and is trying her best to get her foot in the door of any professional door she can. Garbage’s Phoebe is navigating the specifics of being a Black woman in a field that is still mostly white men; Love and cherishMaggie’s is navigating teen sex politics.

But the point where the two shows really converge is in their origins: Both are adaptations of best-selling memoirs, which have been turned into mainstream screen versions by the memoir writers themselves. their fiction. Love and cherish, from Dolly Alderton’s 2018 memoir (of the same name) aired on Peacock on August 25 after airing in her hometown earlier this summer. “All of my writing, whether it is memoirs or novels or columns, is very emotional and quite sincere, so in essence it tends to resonate with people. because we’ve all been through heartbreak,” Alderton said CHEAP. “But it’s the next level with TV programming. People are engaging in that world passionately.” Adapted from Phoebe Robinson’s second memoir Everything is Trash, But It’s Okay is currently in the middle of its first season on Freeform — the last one airs on September 7. “I always try to keep my distance from feedback because I want to just do what I want,” says Robinson. . “But you know, I was on Twitter and the comments were mostly good [laughs]. It’s great to have a sense of community with the viewers. ”

Robinson and Alderton both spoke to CHEAP about the very unique process of taking your most personal words and translating them, through a group project, to a wider audience – and what they have learned about themselves and their skills in the process .

On their adaptive journey

Alderton’s show is in the works before she finishes writing the source material. She sent the first half of Everything I Know About Love when submitted to book dealers nearly six years ago (at age 28), and a scout took the proposal and sent it to the production company Working Title, who picked it up almost on the spot. “It was a very fortunate and privileged position to be in it, but I had to pretend the adaptation wasn’t going to happen in order to stay focused,” author, now 34. “I can’t. finished writing my life story while also thinking about how it would translate into cinema. ”

Robinson bought the adaptation of his memoir himself. She founded her own production company, Tiny Rep Tuyen, in 2019 and partnered with ABC to develop a half-hour sitcom in which she will star. Her agents set her up on blind dates on showrunner, and she eventually met TV veteran Jonathan Groff, known for his work on showrunners. Happy ending and Black-ish. “I wanted a black woman, but my agents felt like I would really get along with Jonathan,” she said. “We FaceTimed and just had a blast – we’re both comedians, and he read my book and the same essays that resonated with him have really resonated with me. me at the time.” This couple got together Everything is Trash, But It’s Okay as their source material for the sitcom – “It’s a bit aspirational, but still grounded in reality, especially in terms of finance and what creative life in New York would be like” – and built the show from that.

About the fictionalization of their life story

“I always want to try and write a story that is as interesting as possible, and when you do a series in the writing room, you want to take advantage of people’s different experiences,” says Robinson. specific details about the plot of the memoir. “The rule is, the funniest or most moving idea wins and we build a world on that. We knew we wanted to stay true to the spirit of the book, but we wanted the flexibility to tell great stories for TV. The result is a protagonist played by Robinson who is very much a reflection of the real Robinson in her sensibility and sense of humour. The show’s Phoebe was also a podcaster living in Brooklyn, but they added fictional supporting characters and gave her a brother in the same county (Robinson’s real-life brother lives in Ohio). “I want to prioritize the sibling relationship,” she said. “We’re pretty close, and I feel like I’ve never seen a show with so much focus and dynamic dimension.”

Alderton’s creative team initially considered sticking to her memoir but quickly abandoned the idea: “You’re too limited to just stick to the plot points of reality; it just doesn’t provide a compelling enough story. She describes the process of fictionalization as taking the essence of the book and placing it in a fantasy world without limits of details and characters. “We knew we wanted it to be a story. love is central between two childhood best friends and that a moment of great tension will be the first time either of them will fall in love,” she said. sharing women’s houses and the fear of closeness – the intimacy and the stupidity and crudeness of girls living together.”

Robinson also feels strongly about being honest with a few factual elements in his book, namely the discussions about money and financial security. “When my podcast Two Dope Queens launched in 2016, and it was number one on iTunes, people assumed that because I was successful I had a lot of money,” she said. “But I’m still struggling with student loans and credit card debt, and I wanted to show that in this character – that despite her career momentum, she doesn’t have it all. things, that she’s still trying to figure things out.”

Learn how to move from solo composition to group projects

Everything I Know About Love a lot is an unwashed depiction of youth – Maggie and her roommate are shown drinking, getting high on drugs and having sex. It was the kind of “freedom rudimentary” that Alderton worried about needing to negotiate with a network. She produced the show with the BBC and described a pleasant surprise in how executives approached the more engaging material from her memoir. “There was an interesting thing that happened that I’m sure it’s going to be the most British thing ever,” she said. “All potentially offensive entries were upvoted for different people online and in the end we received an email that said: ‘We can see the editor’s justification for all those things.’ I got it on a Friday afternoon and was like, ‘drink me at the pub tonight!’ “

Robinson found the difference between book writing and television writing most obvious with the network note-taking process. “When I write the book, my editor gives me a general idea of ​​the changes, I take whatever I want and leave the rest, and it won’t be repeated,” she says with a laugh. “In TV, you have to have more conversations about everything. One of the areas where I developed the most with this experience is being able to sift through feedback and understand that everyone wants the show to be successful – they don’t give you notes because they don’t trust you. ”

When viewing their own stories differently

“I’m definitely grateful that I wrote the script at 33, not younger,” Alderton said. “The further you move away from your youth, the more you understand what is important and what is ephemeral.” She remembers a particularly poignant scene from the show that called for Maggie to face her own reflection in the mirror; script notes about Maggie capture her face, which she has chosen since she was 13 years old. “Seeing those actresses visually in these situations, I feel more compassion than ever, compassion for the feeling of not knowing my worth in the world and still feeling confused. Who am I?”

For her part, Robinson has used her show to reflect on how far she’s come in her career and life, especially when it comes to finances (a theme of the series that she She said she received a lot of positive feedback). “I feel proud of where I have achieved. When I wrote in the first season of Portlandia, I took all that money and paid off my credit card debt, and that made me feel ready for the Phoebe 3.0 life I wanted to have. Now I have a printing house and a book production company, and I don’t feel like I have to say ‘yes’ to every job for fear that the money will run out. And it helped me figure out where I wanted to go, a place where I was even more confident and able to prioritize my personal life. I knew I wanted to try and enjoy everything.”

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