Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Big Gulp of Reality Bites

Reality Bites didn't make much much of an impression on me when I saw it in college, but when I saw it again after I graduated it seemed like an essential work. I'm not sure that's true, but there is a reason the film endures. Here's a good oral history from the key players. Writer Helen Childress:

Helen Childress (screenwriter): We just started throwing stuff at the wall and figuring out what would it be. "Here's what my friends are saying. Here's what my friends are doing. Here's what my life is like." It was just Michael and me for about a year and then Stacey came on board. And Stacey was the real deal. She knew story. She knew structure. She just had a key into the character of Lelaina and she helped me. She focused everything.

["Reality Bites" remains Childress' only produced screenplay. Her female-centric work has faced an uphill climb in Hollywood ever since, though she is collaborating with Shamberg, Sher and Stiller on a "Reality Bites" TV series for NBC.]

Stacey Sher (executive producer): I think what I brought to it was I was closer in age to her than Michael and we just started structuring it and digging deeper into the relationships. I kept urging her to go to the truth of the characters and what was going on in people's lives. It was just at the beginning of the backlash to the women's movement, after Susan Faludi would write "Backlash," and I think that Helen and I both came to it as women making choices about making their way in the world after school. It also reflected a group of people who were the product of divorce, who grew up in ways that pop culture was a part of our lives.

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