(KGET) — There are two very different entertainment options for your television viewing this week. One is a new streaming service comedy while the other is a dark made-for-cable movie inspired by true events.
“Millennials” is a half-hour comedy series debuting Feb. 25 on the newly rebranded streaming service ALLBLK. The six-episode series about four 20-something roommates and their neighbors across the hall trying to navigate the chaos of being young and finding success is from Bentley Kyle Evans. The show’s creator has a long and successful career that includes creating the series “Martin.”
Shows such as “Living Single” looked at life through the eyes of a group of female friends. Evans describes “Millennials” as being a show that looks at the black experience from a male’s perspective.
“You’ve seen it as individuals and in family situations, but I think it was like we wanted to give a message of what that black experience was like, like that dorm room experience,” Evans says. “With this ensemble piece, I think we’re able to capture that in a very unique way.”
Offering that perspective will be Omar (Kyle Massey, “That’s So Raven,”), a business student looking to conquer the corporate world. He is pushing his friends – Jaheem (Keraun “King Keraun” Harris), a personal trainer, Travis (Philip Bolden, Are We There Yet?) an insecure YouTuber and college dropout Todd (Aaron Grady, “Everybody Hates Chris”) – to get their acts together. The only one who seems to know what is going on is their hardworking neighbor Mercedes (Teresa “Topnotch” Celeste), an aspiring actress from Atlanta who provides a voice of reason for the guys.
Evans saw the immediate chemistry needed to make this buddy comedy work as the cast was being put together.
“It just seemed like these were four unlikely individuals that could come together and create this science in a sense and that’s what we were able to do.,” Evans says.
If you are more interested in crime dramas, “Girl in the Basement” will debut at 8 p.m. Feb. 27 on Lifetime. The film – based on real events – is the story of Sara (Stefanie Scott), a teen girl eagerly waiting for her 18th birthday so she can move away from her controlling father, Don (Judd Nelson).
Her plans are thwarted when Don imprisons her in the basement of their home. At the same time Don is trying to convince his wife, Irene (Joely Fisher), that Sara ran away, he tortures and rapes his daughter. This goes on for two decades and Sara eventually gives birth to several children.
Such a dark story created challenges for the actors and director Elisabeth Rohm. The task for Nelson was to play this man who does evil things while keeping up the persona of being a good man.
Nelson says, “I think that villain is not something that someone thinks about themselves. I don’t think Manson thought he was a bad guy. For all we know, Jeffery Dahmer didn’t think he was a bad guy.
“Don doesn’t think he’s a bad guy. He’s got kids. He’s trying to do his best for them. If they are not well behaved, they’ll be punished. Is Don extreme? Absolutely. But I don’t feel that he doesn’t have their best interests at heart.”
The challenge for Scott was playing all of the stages her character had to go through over a 20 year period. That included how she would deal with living underground for such an extended period while raising children with no outside resources.
It was a dark place to go for the actress – best known for her work on “A.N.T. Farm” – but she was able to leave all of the darkness at work.
“How do you even keep your mind together if that is your reality? At the end of the day, it was a movie and I was pretending, and I had breaks all day long,” Scott says. “And it wasn’t real for me, so at the end of the day, it’s not like I can identify with those feelings as if it’s something I really went through.
“I feel like I can’t really do justice to what these girls have actually been through because I’m just an actor pretending. So it’s not something that I guess I can say left me feeling a certain way, but trying to bring it to life, it was definitely an emotional challenge.“
It was Rohm’s job as the director to help her cast prepare for and deal with the deeply emotional and psychological material. She connected with Nelson through their shared interest in research that is done to play a role.
Rohm took a more emotional approach with Scott.
“We had all these different ways of going into the story with each other as collaborators,” Rohm says. “But at the heart of it, the relationship between the father and the daughter, it’s hauntingly familiar.
“I think we had different ways of what we pulled on in regards to telling the story.”