We whisper to a friend that we’re not doing fine, and they wipe the tears from our cheeks. We fall asleep spooning a friend in bed, after asking them what’s really going on in their life. A friend feeds another friend a tortilla chip, wondering if they’ve always had chemistry.

A new web series set largely in Brooklyn celebrates the unique beauty of platonic friendships, and the “radical intimacy” in them that sustains us when romantic love falls short.

PLATONIC is a 10-part digital series following the lives of Olive (a gay Brooklynite) and Billy (her straight best friend) as they look for love in New York City and document their search via voicemail messages to each other. 

The series was written and directed by Park Slope local Erin C. Buckley, who says it is one of the “closest to home” pieces she has ever written. Main characters Olive (Summer Spiro) and Billy (Ryan King) are based on Buckley and her friend King, and the other characters are a homage to friendships they had in their 20s and early 30s.

“There is so much, almost, boundary-blurring in terms of what friendships are and what romantic connection is. It’s an idea I’ve been daydreaming about for a long time,” Buckley said.

Summer Spiro as Olive and Joe Gallagher as Pete. Photo: Erin C. Buckley.

She said often while filming the ten, five-minute episodes, the scene would end and the actors would be left in a tableau of soothing one another that might mistakenly make you think they were romantically involved. 

“A friendship can deliver almost a level of intimacy and attachment we’re looking for in a love relationship,” Buckley said. Sometimes even more so than in a romantic relationship where something is “off.”

Through Olive and Billy, we get a view of the sexual and emotional fluidity of modern dating. In one scene, a close female friend wants to sleep with Olive, although she is married to a man, and in another one of Billy’s dates walks out because she’s unsure about his sexuality.

Summer Spiro as Olive. Photo: Erin C. Buckley.

Musing on the topic, Olive says: “I have chemistry with everyone and also I think everyone is gay.” “Because they probably are,” her friend responds.

Olive’s character is gay, the sexualities of many of the supporting actors are fluid, and there are ten female characters cast in the season that runs about 50 minutes. 

Writer/director Erin C. Buckley. Photo: Supplied.

Buckley said she is gay and was raised by an actress, so is very aware of how relatively few roles there were for women and for gay people. While there has been progress, stories about gay women are lacking. Representation is important. “I like things to center queer people in a way that almost feels like second nature, it’s not the point, it just is.” 

The first season of PLATONIC was funded by angel donors and Buckley’s own savings. She already has a second season written, and hopes once the first is released she will get the opportunity to produce it.

PLATONIC launches exclusively on YouTube on August 12. Click here for more info.

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Jessy Edwards

Jessy Edwards is a freelance writer based in Bushwick. Originally from New Zealand, she has written for the BBC, Rolling Stone, NBC New York, CNBC and her hometown newspaper, The Dominion Post, among others.

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