When New York City first went into quarantine many people found themselves struggle to continue their creative efforts, but not long-time collaborators Nicole Martinez and Anna Stacy. They took this as means to combine reflections on what was happening globally with a new art form. The friends had previous worked on writing, producing, and acting together in several theatrical productions in the past six years and when they could no longer work on their current projects that focused their energy on creating an entirely online and remotely produced web series that was titled, Dead-Enders.
When productions started being cancelled Martinez and Stacy reached out to their network of independent artists and pitched the idea of the series. This pitch worked and those who found themselves unsure of next steps with their current projects and stuck without an outlet for their creativity. With the use of Zoom they were able to film all of Dead-Enders and with a zombie apocalypse used as the reason for their lockdown, they could focus on many of the issues people were feeling while trying to stay connected with friends. With a level of levity and the comedic tone they worked to provide some escape from the events actually happening in the city.
Part of their work involved drawing inspiration from the work of other web series, including two of my favorites, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and The Guild. They though wanted to ensure an ensemble-driven narrative. They intentionally chose not to have a director and allowed the series to evolve organically with the full cast. Characters were created within the group of doomsday preppers that the series focuses on that encapsulated various identities and were reflective of the actors. The creators are both women of color and through their work they hope to share diverse stories with people of color and those who identify within the LGBTQ+ community.
The core characters of Dead-Enders are part of a group called Ready, Prep, GO. This forum is designed for doomsday preppers and as they try to find a sense of community they take to chatting via Zoom. Mac is a life-long prepper, Leo is a middle-school teacher and just a bit bossy, Maisie is a delightful fangirl who is with her jam-making girlfriend Eleanor, Jodie is a cultural anthropologist, and Harper is well, a mess. With six half hour long episodes, all of which have been available to watch since June 26th.
As someone living in New York, the state and not the city admittedly, I found myself drawn to the series because I also was experiencing some of the same regulations that led people to feel a bit stuck, both in their homes and often in their lives. The idea of a zombie apocalypse as the reason for keeping yourself inside made me think of some of my favorite media, movies like Shaun of the Dead and also some digital content like Total Party Kill. What Martinez and Stacy have created is fun to watch and it will have you laughing and enjoying yourself. These preppers can sort of commiserate with how you are feeling and they will feel like friends you have happened to come upon on the internet. The first season of the show has performed well and the creators and cast are planning to release a second season in spring of 2021.