Set in the eponymous rural town, Back to Goode centers on a lesbian couple, Ellie and Vanessa, who move there to reinvigorate their relationship after Vanessa had an affair. When Reagan the tomboy street artist Vanessa cheated with, also turns up in town, things take a turn for the dramatic.
This triangle is at the heart of a diverse cast of characters that inhabit the five episode web series, which will shoot in Daylesford, Victoria, and Melbourne in July, aiming for a September release on YouTube.
As writer and director Lisa Habermann explains, “About two years ago I decided to start a collaborative project to create a lesbian TV show (similar to, but different than, The L Word and Lip Service), thinking Australia also had what it takes to create gripping lesbian narrative drama. I advertised on StarNow and a group of female actors and filmmakers started meeting up and discussing characters and story ideas. Suzanne McKee was part of that first group and we are now co-directors in our production company Mainly Mondays Productions that specialises in diverse creative content.”
Daylesford made for a perfect location, with Habermann describing the town as “a ‘queer country’ destination”. Indeed, it’s one of many, flying in the face of the stereotype of rural conservatism. “There are quiet a few LGBTI friendly towns and communities in Victoria that have queer festivals and celebrate LGBTI people – Daylesford, Bendigo, Yackandandah.
“We are just telling a story about LGBTI people in a beautiful country setting. In fact, it’s more about ‘geographicals’ , ‘running away from your past’ or having a ‘tree change’ than it is about attitudes toward queer people. I think it’s wonderful for queer people and their family and friends to have drama that reflects their lives and the lives of people they know.”
Nevertheless, the series is an example of the (slowly) increasing visibility of LGBTI characters and stories in Australian screen content. “I think LGBTI representation is definitely improving,” Habermann says.”Award winning lesbian web and TV series like Starting From Now is such an example. A great story about a female couple and the challenges they face in their world. Other mainstream TV shows like Wentworth have championed lesbian characters for years. More recently, popular series like Offspring and Janet King also are increasingly showing gender and ethnically diverse people – and that’s a good thing. The best part is that their gender or ethnic diversity is a part of the storyline – not the main storyline – and that is what we are hoping to achieve as well.”
Still, she hopes for a time when gender and sexual identity no longer need to be championed, instead being just another factor in a character or narrative’s make-up. “My personal take on queer content and LGBTI lifestyles is that is a part of who we are – just like paying taxes, going for holidays, raising kids and enjoying life. I dream of a day when it’s no different to being left-handed and people will just go, ‘Oh. I didn’t know you were queer.’ I’m left-handed. People say to me, ‘I didn’t know you were left-handed’ all the time. And then we just get on with our lives. I think that would be really cool.
Starring Suzanne McKee, Georgina Jones, Jeni Bezuidenhout, Cat Kasey, Katherine Grinlaw and Leanne Campbell, Back to Goode will be released in the third quarter of 2017. Keep up with production news via the official Facebook page.
Feature image: one of the Back To Goode couples, from left Alex (Cat Kasey) and Zoey (Georgina Jones). Photo: Martin Keep Photography.