On the Side of Eastsiders

Debuting to critical acclaim, the popular Web series sets sights on an entire first season courtesy of Kickstarter.

BY Christopher Rudolph

January 21 2013 8:00 AM ET

Constance Wu, John Halbach, Van Hansis, Kit Williamson, and Matthew McKelligon

It is easy to feel like you’re drowning in gay Web series these days. Tired of not seeing enough gay representation on television (or at least the most positive of gay role models) the creators have turned to the network television of their generation: the Internet. With breakout hits like The Outs, Husbands, and Where the Bears Are, it is enough to warrant the question: do we really need another gay Web series? Not particularly caring about the response, Eastsiders creator Kit Williamson proved to the naysayers that there still is room in this crowded field.

Eastsiders was born out of Williamson’s love of his Eastside Los Angeles neighborhood. Moving from Queens, N.Y., to the hip Silver Lake area of L.A., he says he felt a sense of community that he wasn’t expecting to find. “I found a home here,” says Williamson. “Everyone knows everyone, so watch what you say.” That quote relates directly to his series, which follows what happens to a young gay couple after infidelity occurs four years into their relationship. The actors in the series have more than enough gay street cred; playing the couple are Williamson and Van Hansis, who already has a history of playing gay characters on TV with his Emmy-nominated portrayal of Luke on As the World Turns, and the homewrecker in question is played by Matthew McKelligon, who can also be seen in James Franco’s upcoming Interior. Leather Bar., a film about the classic gay (or perhaps antigay) movie Cruising.
 
When asked about the genesis of Eastsiders, Williamson leaves the dramatics in front of the camera. “I wish I had an interesting story behind it, but really I just wanted to write something about my neighborhood and a couple I could relate to, and the story kind of came out of that more than anything else.” Williamson and his character, Cal, have both been in relationships for four years, so one would think that these events are based in reality, but Williamson is quick to respond: “It wasn’t autobiographical at all, I should get that out of the way. Our relationship couldn’t be further from Cal and Tom’s relationship. As an actor I’m bored with myself. I wanted to play someone who isn’t me and in relationships I don’t live through every day.”
 
Eastsiders debuted two episodes in December to wide critical acclaim, proving the field is not yet oversaturated, and fans were jonesing for more. One major distinction between network television and a Web series is money. Eastsiders was done as a labor of love, with friends and fellow artists in Silver Lake helping out, and when finances dried up Williamson turned to another modern-day invention: Kickstarter.
 
Last week a Kickstarter campaign was started to fund an entire nine-episode season of Eastsiders with a $15,000 goal. Within 48 hours the campaign raised $10,000, and now, just days later, it has passed the initial goal and is quickly racking up additional funding. “We are completely blown away that we passed our goal so quickly,” an astonished Williamson says. “Fifteen thousand dollars in four days — I still can't believe it. It means so much to me that people are invested in the show and want to make it a reality.” Hopefully, with these new episodes we’ll find out if Cal and Tom’s relationship has a happy ending and if there is a silver lining in Silver Lake.

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