Sundance’s Indie Episode Program 1 included naughty puppets, postapartum comedy, Kyra Sedgwick directing and five shows created or co-created by women.
[For the second straight year, Sundance has dedicated a special section to the episodic format, recognizing the variety of independent episodic short-form programming for online as well as traditional television. The 2019 Indie Episodic slate includes Sundance TV’s State of the Union, Showtime’s Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men and two “programs,” featuring four or five indie series-starters.]
I previously wrote about the second Indie Episodic program at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, a group that included Abby McEnany and Tim Mason’s sad-yet-hopeful-yet-funny Work in Progressand Caleb Jaffe’s preternaturally mature It’s Not About Jimmy Keene. Both projects arrive with such a clear, fully developed sense of their characters and their worlds that a network or streaming service could acquire them either confident of ongoing series elements, in the case of Work in Progress, or confident with the limitless upside of the assembled talent, in the case of Jaffe and his Jimmy Keene cast.
My enthusiasm about this second Indie Episode group shouldn’t take away from the reasonable potential from the first Indie Episodic program. All five shows — Girls Weekend, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, Bootstrapped, Maggie and Quarter Life Poetry — offer some laughs and several offer original ideas I’d be curious to see more of. All five shows in the first Indie Episodic program were created or co-created by women, a few have recognizable names attached and a couple have already achieved some success in online forms.
Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr.’s Quarter Life Poetry has gone from Tumblr to Instagram to a book and the show’s website says that some form of the project is coming to FX. FX doesn’t appear to have announced anything formally, but that doesn’t mean that Jayne’s sometimes whimsical, sometimes mortifying, generally relatable view of work and life and the choices therein wouldn’t be at home on FX. Actually, it’d be hard to imagine a place Quarter Life Crisis wouldn’t be a reasonable fit, making it easily the most purely commercial project in the Indie Episodic section.