Gal Pals Present recently premiered a new comedy web series, titled Stalled, which aims to capture the gay nightclub women's restroom scene that you may have experienced, but may have flushed out of memory.
The five-episode web series centers around 19-year-old Jordan (they/them), a non-binary, Chinese immigrant, who scams their way into a job as a women's restroom attendant at a struggling gay nightclub that has just reopened for the summer.
Shot in a smallish bathroom, in July and August 2019 at Three Dollar Bill located in Brooklyn, Stalled showrunner Lia Hagen said the main purpose of this project is to emphasize the importance of queer relationships.
"I think that the physical space in this show is the way that Jordan has access to those relationships and it's the way that Jordan can meet the people that they meet," she explained. "So, I would absolutely say that the importance of queer spaces is one of the central themes of the show."
Hagen shared when she first moved to New York six years ago, she saw a girl holding another girl's hair back as she vomited on the street.
"I thought to myself, there is nothing like drunk girls being friends," she said with a chuckle. "There's where the thought really started and so it just kept sticking with me."
Hagen ran with that idea when creating the series. Another large part, she said, was inspired by the way she came to understand the queer community around her when she was a 19-year-old herself just a few years ago before writing this series.
"I was really interested in doing a show that highlighted the people who actually make these spaces work and thinking about the person you don't look at while you're there," she said, adding part of the reason she decided to write about a restroom attendant is also because a lot of people in her family hold working class jobs. "People don't really think about and the kinds of jobs where like Jordan, our main character, they are a Chinese immigrant, they're non-binary, they're a bathroom attendant, I think in a lot of ways in another show, they would be the person who you have like one funny interaction with or something."
Hagen also credits one of her favorite books Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg in her creative process.
"We live in a capitalist system, we live in a homophobic system, we live in a racist system, so often these places can't completely escape those frameworks, but the people inside of them are what consistently make those spaces welcoming and meaningful and valuable," she said.
Hagen explained the series aims to explore people as people. Along with detailing the lead character Jordan, who is played by Teddy Qin, the other lead characters include May (played by Ifemi Quinones(IQ), a Black trans woman and Eddie (played by Jennifer Iris Rivera), a Latina cis woman and lesbian. Marley Jean Fernandes is the series' director.
"Overall the goal with all three of these characters was to have them be characters who have a relationship with femininity and who have different levels of connection to the concept of womanhood," said Hagen.
Hagen revealed that all the trans characters are played by trans actors.
"We worked to cast people with the experiences that they were speaking to," said Hagen, who is lesbian. "As a cis person writing this, it was also important to me to get those perspectives early and to constantly be making sure that this felt true to people."
The show's soundtrack is completely made up of Black queer artists. According to Chidi Adeyemi, Stalled's music supervisor and production assistant, who is also married to Hagen, viewers will hear rap, R&B, club and house music throughout the series. They stated they were intentional in the music selection.
"I was very intentional to reach out to Black queer and trans artists because frankly I just thought that's what the soundtrack should be and it could be…" said Adeyemi. "And I have so much fun doing it and I'm so excited to get to showcase these artists like some who really don't have the most following, but I just think like if I was in a club and I wanted to build my own space this is exactly what I would want to listen to…"
Adeyemi added their vision "was also to honor that club and house music has been historically a genre pioneered by Black trans women and Black queer artists."
"I think that ultimately the goal is definitely to make more of the series and I think the goal is to get these five episodes out to as many people as possible and to share these characters and this story and to ultimately be able to continue making work about them because I think that Stalled is not just these five episodes," said Hagen. "I'm very invested in their long-term storyline."
One episode per day premiered on the Gal Pals Present YouTube channel throughout the week of May 24-28.
Adeyemi, who is non-binary and queer, shared when they were growing up in the late '00s and early 2010s, they watched a lot of gay films and television shows to understand themselves and what was going on with other people in the queer community.
"I just want to put something out that someone who's starting to figure things out can watch this and be like this is great and this is helpful," said Adeyemi.
"Part of what is most important to me is that people have a good time watching it," Hagen explained. "I think that my audience are people who are used to seeing themselves as the subjects of a drama or a documentary or a true crime case, [Adeyemi added "or the other character who doesn't get more than a few speaking lines"] but my goal was that this would be a show where people who only get to see their identities in a negative light get to see it in a fun way."
"Part of the point of Stalled is it is okay to be confused," Hagen said lightheartedly. "One of the things I love about Jordan as a character is that they find value in their relationships with people and not in career goals. That's not really where they find their joy. So I think that that was also part of what was fun for me about this show is like this isn't a Shonda Rhimes show where everyone has to be a genius surgeon. People can just be people figuring out what they're doing from day to day and I think that was really fun too."
To watch Stalled, go to Gal Pals Present's YouTube channel youtube.com/channel/UCW4AqLn4A4ILPiC_JVr4biA.
To learn more, visit galpalspresent.com/stalled .