The new web series Different For Girls received its World Premiere at the BFI Flare London LGBT Film Festival last night, before going online worldwide from March 18th. It’s an attempt to fill the void left by the lack of lesbian TV programming, with a show that looks like it could/should have been on a traditional television channel, but made – by necessity – on a much smaller budget. Nevertheless, they’ve pulled together a good cast, including Guinevere Turner (Go Fish, The Watermelon Woman,), Caroline Whitney Smith (Her Story), and Rachel Shelley (The L Word).
The five episodes of Season 1 introduce us to the slightly soap opera lives of a group of women in London’s Chiswick district. There’s Gemma, who’s dating Jude, but who’s also getting married to a guy – to satisfy her parents and his acting career. Jude though hasn’t really cut ties with her ex, Nicola, which isn’t making things easier with Gemma. Nicola is supposed to have moved on and has a wife, Brooke, and kids. Even so, Nicola has a hard time committing to this supposed domestic bliss, and if having an affair on the side. Brooke may not know that, but she does know her partner is neglecting her home life.
Then there Fran and Cam – and where do we start with them? The two women have just got back together, but Cam’s discovered she’s pregnant. And who’s the father? Fran’s twin brother, Tom! Perhaps not too surprisingly, Fran isn’t too impressed with this development.
Overall, it’s a bit like a lesbian Hollyoaks, but with a generally better – and more mature – cast. These are lesbians in their 20s, 30s and 40s, who’ve now got families and kids, something that’s not often explored on screen. Admittedly, in real life I hope not all lesbians in Chiswick are living lives with quite as much drama and intrigue as is on display here – if they are, they must be permanently exhausted – but in amongst the more melodramatic elements are more serious ideas. There are things such as the pressures if one partner doesn’t seem to be taking on their share of domestic responsibilities, unexpected pregnancy and not being able to let go of the past.
It is sometimes a little silly – there were a few giggles at the premiere at some of its more soap opera machinations – but it’s also pretty entertaining. Director Campbell X (Stud Life) and the crew have worked hard to give it a look that belies its micro-budget origins – not least that while a lot of web series tend to be pretty static, in order to save on the number of locations and set-ups, Different For Girls gets out and about to give it a more expansive, televisual feel. Many will also be pleased to hear that it’s also pretty sexy.
The five episodes represent what was originally going to be the first half of Season 1, so the whole thing does end on a cliffhanger. However, it will certainly leave wanting to know what happens with Fran, Cam and the baby; what’s going with the philandering Nicola; and whether Gemma and Tom’s sham marriage is really a good idea. Hopefully we will get to find out fairly soon, as currently they’re hoping to shoot Season 2 in September.
Overall Verdict: A fun, if a little dramatically convoluted, look at the lives of a group of lesbian living in London. Although the plot occasionally takes things a little too far, with a good cast and a great look, it’s certainly worth a watch.
Different For Girls will be available on from 6pm on March 18th 2017. You can find out more at the show’s website.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac