Desperately ‘Seeking Simone’: Exclusive Interview with Renee Olbert and Rose Rowe
If you aren’t already hooked on the hilarious web series Seeking Simone, then as soon as you finish this interview, you need to commit to watching the fictional dating antics of Simone Selkin online.
Simone, as embodied by the hilarious Renee Olbert, is a lovely lesbian on the prowl episodically dating her way through all the lez-brand of crazy the great city of Toronto has to offer. Season 2 recently started up, serving up many new ladies and laughs. You cant help but walk away feeling really good about your own dating life, because as bad as it may be… well, you’ll just be grateful that you’re not Simone.
SheWired chatted with the series star and creators, Olbert and Rose Rowe, to see if we could get some insider information on just what kind of scintillating trouble Simone will seek out this season. And, will she ever find Ms Right?
SheWired: Seeking Simone’s season 2 episodes are rolling out now. Can you tell us what is in store for our favorite Internet dating, W4W Torontonian?
Renee Olbert: Well, I would love to say that we will be seeing a more sedate, wiser Simone this season... but what would be the fun in that?! I think the beauty of this character and this season, is that Simone continues to put her self out there, warts and all. She’s really quite fearless that way and I think we see her time and time again get up and keep moving forward despite some pretty big upsets. That said, our Simone does see some action this year. And by action...Well, I think you know what I mean. But in case I’m not being clear, I mean ACTION.
Is each episode strictly scripted or do you allow for any improv?
Rose Rowe: The episodes start out scripted - and I'd LOVE to say that each special moment of Seeking Simone is solely due to my writing genius, but it is not so. When you have a hilarious star, hilarious guest stars, director, and crew… Sometimes what I've written pales in comparison to the on-the-spot utterings of the actors, or a brilliant idea our director has. Ultimately, the script provides a good road map for the episode but we definitely leave room for unscripted detours - like the sexy part of Episode 2.2 when Simone can't get Sylvia's jacket off, or the largely improvised phone call to Simone's agent in Episode 1.4, where she blurts out, "I'm a muncher."
It does give me a special little thrill when I'm watching the final cut and I discover that whole chunks of dialogue have actually survived as written.
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We’ve seen Simone down a bottle of cheap vodka, and she clearly loves herself some wine…Does Simone have a drinking problem?
Renee: [Laughs] Well, I think it is more like Simone has a restraint problem. We here at Seeking Simone certainly don’t advocate alcoholic hazes as a way of coping with your problems... Yet, at the same time, I think many of us can relate to downing one too many frilly drinks during times of duress. You would think that Simone learned her lesson in Episode 1.2, but alas, our fearless heroine is obviously NOT a quick study. As a purely actor side note, there are few things as fun as playing drunk. So I secretly always welcome the opportunity to booze it up.
Back story question: It’s no secret that lesbians tend to stay friends with their exes. Were Audrey and Simone ever ‘a thing?’
Rose: Simone and Audrey were best friends and, surprisingly, entirely platonic roommates for several years. But there was one drunken night after a crazy party in 2002 when both ladies were newly single and things went a little far. But we don't talk about that, especially to Audrey's wife Andrea, because then stuff would be SUPER weird. You know?
Will we ever get a peek of Audrey’s wife or will she remain a character of mystery, a la Maris on Frasier?
Renee: Oh Maris, now that is truly one of the greatest running gags in sitcom history. I certainly don’t want to give anything away, but I will say stay tuned. We are wily and may just have a few tricks up our sleeve.
The final episode of Season 2 is called “Leslie." Could this Leslie person perhaps be a real love contender for poor Simone? Come on. Spill!
Renee: Ah HA! I see you’ve tried to lull us into a false sense of security before hitting us with the big guns! Well, we’ll have none of it! We fully admit that we brought that on ourselves by having such a leading episode title, however, no dice. I’m pleading the fifth! For all I know, that episode could be about Simone buying a cat. A cat named Leslie.
OK. Tell me now so I can prepare myself -- how much of a cliffhanger will the last episode be? We all know you Seeking Simone creators love to leave us wanting more. Such teases.
Rose: Yeah, I won't lie - it's a pretty big cliffhanger. Like, Simone riding over the edge of a cliff on a Vespa. Freeze-frame. You will die.
Do you you incorporate any of your own dating nightmares into the script?
Renee: I really feel we mined the seedier sides of both our love lives for the show - In Season 1, Simone's ex Rebecca, for example, was a delightful collage of all the women who've wronged us over the years. As for Season 2, the Bettina episode was largely inspired by my own stalker experience (I was the stalkee, just to be clear).
My general modus operandi - in life as well as in art - is to improve upon reality. So often I'll take a dating story - Renee's, mine or someone else's - and then embellish it beyond recognition, so that the person who told it to me can't sue us. Art!
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Seeking Simone now has subtitles in Portuguese, French, Spanish and Italian. When will the Russian and Cantonese audience get their day?
Rose: Ah yes! The Simone Berlitz Course, as we call it, has hands-down been one of the coolest things to come out of this project for us. We've been so ridiculously lucky with our team of translators - it's really been an honor to have them take the time to create the subtitles for us in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Polish and Italian (we also had German for Season 1 - we're working on Season 2!). How do you know when someone really likes your show? When they're willing to take hours out of their busy lives to translate and make subtitles so that they can share it with their non-English speaking friends.
As for Russian and Cantonese - we would LOVE to have those subs! As soon as some kind Russian or Cantonese-speaking volunteer comes forward to translate, we'll get that going. No pressure, Russian and Cantonese speaking lesbians...
The internet is huge resource for accessing LGBT content that is absent from TV. But would you take Simone to a channel like Here, or dare to dream, network TV?
Renee: Oh, we dare to dream and dream big! We love the internet and love the home our series has found on the web. However, we have always believed in our series and its ability to transition from a web series into a 30-minute comedy. We have absolutely thought of shopping our series around to networks and are currently in the midst of getting a pitch together.
Are there any other projects either of you are working on at the moment? Season 3?
Renee: As with Rosemary, getting the rest of season 2 out is not only my major passion, but also my top priority. Creatively it has been the most satisfying experience of my life and I’m really proud of what we have been able to accomplish. I’m sorry to say that my other most recent acting projects can only be seen up here in Canada, but the minute our friends to the south can view something, I’ll let you know!
Rose: Seeking Simone is my one and only webseries love, so getting the rest of Season 2 out is at the top of my project list. My other projects lately are mainly off-screen and corset focused. My faux academic "Anne of Green Gables made me gay" piece, Anne and Diana Were Totally Doing It, is being published this fall and I'm just putting the finishing touches on a play about three women in the Yukon Gold Rush in 1898. Yes - one of them is a secret lez! Shhh…
You can catch new episodes of Seeking Simone right now, here.