In the age of helicopter parenting and leaning in, a new web series titled “Caring” examines the lives of women trying to get by in Southern California. But this series, which made its premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June, is not just focused on four females living in Los Angeles – it is a wholly female-driven artistic endeavor. And it is now available to view online.
The show portrays the mother-nanny relationship from four perspectives: two moms and their childcare providers. The mothers who share a few playdates (and not just for the kids) are played by Lynn Chen (from “Saving Face,” playing Vicky) and Hannah Dunne (from “Mozart in the Jungle,” playing Kate). They employ Mickey Sumner (from “Frances Ha,” in the role of Amy) and Diana DeLaCruz (from “Real Women Have Curves,” who plays Carla).
Created by Erin Wagoner, directed by Maggie Kiley and produced by Ellie Wen, the series sold out three screenings at the film festival. Wen is the writer of the 2012 Asian American-led film “White Frog” and a producer for Super Deluxe, an online video network that has put out a series of web programming, including “Caring,” since its launch last year. Wen said the five-episode show was inspired in part by Wagoner’s personal experience as a nanny fresh out of college.
Kate, a down-on-her-luck recent social studies graduate, takes a live-in nanny position for Amy, a frazzled mother who is desperate to live a life outside the house after having her daughter. Meanwhile, career-driven Vicky struggles to juggle her successful career with motherhood. She has the help of her nanny Carla, who is facing troubles of her own as she searches for a better life for herself and her two teenage kids.
Chen said she approached her role in part by taking inspiration from her friends, many of whom are mothers. It was Chen’s episode that was chosen to show at the film festival — according to Wen, the crowd seemed to bond easily with her character. “At a Q&A session afterward, one audience member said she was so happy to see the show because she never sees Asian American moms represented,” said Wen.
Another Hollywood rare occurrence: the fact that “Caring” was created entirely by women, from the cast to the crew.
“I’ve worked on projects with a large female cast, but this, I had never seen anything like it,” Chen said. “Female costumers, stylists, DPs (directors of photography), camera crew, director, writers, everything. It really was empowering.”
“It’s starring and created by women,” Wen said. “I think that gave it a very authentic feel. It was made for and by us.”