How 'The Skinny' Balances Dark Humor, Striking Realism, & More, Thanks To Creator Jessie Kahnweiler
The fact that The Skinny was created by comedian, actress, and unapologetic feminist Jessie Kahnweiler should be enough of a reason for anyone to check out the new web series, but it's certainly not the only one. The Skinny, which can currently be watched on Refinery29.com, manages to display her comedic timing, social justice values, and storytelling all at once. The result? A darkly funny, strikingly realistic, look at eating disorders that is unlike any other portrayal in media.
"When I set the tone of the show, I didn't want to joke around about it because honestly, there's nothing funny about it," Kahnweiler tells Bustle about the series, which is centered around her character Jessie, a struggling YouTube comedian living in Los Angeles. You get to see Jessie go through the highs and the lows of trying to make it in Hollywood, from her co-dependent relationship with her sort of ex-boyfriend to attempting to impress agents. But the plot also centers around Jessie's unacknowledged eating disorder, which both informs and is informed by her relationships, career, and self-concept.
Although the show deals with such a heavy topic, it's also described as a "dark comedy," and is definitely filled with a lot of funny moments. Kahnweiler always manages to find a balance between showing the realities of an eating disorder and being funny, without mocking the disorder itself or downplaying its effect on Jessie's life. Instead, the comedy comes through in how Jessie approaches life and deals with her everyday struggles — by finding the humor in them. "[The story] was by my point of view of the world," Kahnweiler says. "I look at life as a comedy ... comedy is how I deal with the business of being human. So, it has this comedic tone, but it also stays true to the heart of the experience."
The other cast members also echo this sentiment about The Skinny's dichotomy of comedy and serious issues. "Jessie touches on this in a lot of the things that she says, but [the show] is very real," Spencer Hill, who plays Cole, tells Bustle. He says, "even though it's a dark comedy ... I hope that the audience leaves with a sense that there is some realness and rawness to the series, too."
But sometimes, you need to laugh when things get serious, and that doesn't take away from their importance. In fact, cast member Sadie Calvano says in an interview that The Skinny will do much more than entertain its vewiers. "I think that The Skinny really tries to make people uncomfortable," she says. "It really tries to go against the norm, challenge you, and get you to think." You can laugh with and be challenged by The Skinny now at Refinery29.com.