There is something both unique and refreshing about actor and director Franklin Livingston’s new creation, a comedy series called Roomates. Take away the beautiful cityscape, the quick-witted dialogue and the lively performances, and you have something even more appealing: real people. People who eat, work, laugh, cry, make time for their friends, families and try to deal with their day-to-day challenges.
Obviously, We aren’t talking about Hollywood’s version of “real people”, with their six-pack abs, air-brushed faces, worry-free personalities, dressed up with the latest clothing fashions. We are talking about REAL PEOPLE – people with flaws and what many Hollywood producers might consider bodily imperfections, which are things that the average viewer knows a lot about and can relate to. Things which the average viewer also knows are key to creating a beautiful, believable character and an authentic viewing experience. Finally, someone is listening.
In this day and age of facial fillers, injectables and exercise buffs, it’s becoming harder and harder to find authentic people on the big or small screen. It is also becoming harder and harder for actors to be both authentic and healthy while starving and exhausting themselves and still creating their particular brand of magic on screen. The internet is full of stories of actors and actresses who have gone to the ultimate extremes when it comes to health and body just to win a role or play a character. Kudos to those who are brave enough to attempt these radical diet and exercise routines all for the sake of art, but what effect are these fad health trends doing to their bodies? What long-term effects will they accrue by putting their body through extreme changes? And—the ultimate question—is it worth it to wreck your bodily and mental health for fifteen minutes of fame?
Franklin is trying to radically change both Hollywood and the average viewer’s image of the ideal onscreen idol. When you watch his latest creation, Roomates, you won’t be distracted by any Hollywood superhero bodies or silicone dolls. Instead, you’re getting a raw and untouched image. Real people with real bodies and real interpretations of what a healthy and authentic individual can look like. Franklin’s project is a celebration of all things natural and beautiful. It embraces the actor and the person as a whole, allowing them to safely and healthily practice their craft and express their creativity without the restraints or demands of dietary restrictions.
As Franklin once said, “It’s okay if characters look like real people, because the majority of Americans are not skinny and don’t have six-packs. They look like me and my characters in the series. We should embrace it and encourage it.” Quite frankly, it is a breath of fresh air to finally see myself in the characters I enjoy on television. It makes the viewing experience hit home in ways that no other television series or movie has in quite some time. It’s a pleasant change from the usual half hour of guilt and self-deprecation, and ultimate depression, I’m accustomed to as I watch most trendy series. Instead of putting down my popcorn, I’m raising a remote in praise for Franklin Livingston’s radical, and hopefully trendsetting, new series Roomates. Cheers, my friend, to life, laughter and good health!