“This is a story about a dildo.”
And so begins the trailer for ‘Norms’, a new web series by the Lost Shoe Collective that will premiere on Stöð2+ and YouTube on June 4th. The series documents the life of Sara, a queer Icelandic woman who, in the midst of an impulsive, self-destructive breakdown, escapes Reykjavík for the noise of Berlin, or as it’s called, the “city of lost souls.”
It’s a tale as old as time: woman leaves her comfortable life to find herself in the fringes of society. That said, Lost Shoe Collective have put their own spin on this classic by centring their story around an openly queer protagonist, which is all part of their vision of telling stories that aren’t told and telling them in a funny, relatable, realistic manner. Hence, the dildo.
Norms = Queer reality
“I feel that the story is a representation of how we as queer people are just that—people, regular people that live regular lives, full of joyful, dramatic and funny moments,” writer Sólveig Johnsen explains in a COVID-safe virtual interview. Just like Sara, she identifies as a queer woman. “Our stories aren’t only about coming out, facing prejudices and so on, sometimes we are insecure in our life’s purpose or cheating on our spouse, just like anyone else of any sexual orientation or identity.”
The group, therefore, sought to portray the mundane, everyday struggles of Sara’s life and in doing so provide a more nuanced take on the queer female experience. And as a woman-led collective with a high percentage of queer members, this was certainly their story to tell.
“It was important to us from the beginning that Sara was someone everyone could see themselves in, in a way, but that she would be a flawed person who makes mistakes. [She] doesn’t always do the right thing—rarely even—but she tries,” director Júlía Margrét Einarsdóttir says. “Sara is just like so many European young adults. She has everything in a way: a well-paid job, a great group of friends and a girlfriend who cares for her… [But] Sara starts realising that there’s something missing in the relationship that causes an empty space within herself. She cheats on her girlfriend with someone who is exciting and excited about a part of her that Sara has been hiding from the world and herself.”
“In the end it’s not the world she needs to face, but her own demons, passions and struggles to find happiness,” Júlía continues. “Sara is clumsy, selfish, funny and adorable and I love her.”
No explosions necessary
Júlía approached making ‘Norms’ with a concrete basis in realism, which was necessary to highlight the internal arc of the characters. “Nothing explodes, there are no dinosaurs, we’re not telling a story that’s never been told, no monkey-business,” she explains. “What makes the show interesting is the characters and how we relate to them so it was important to me that the scenes were realistic, that I got the tears, the laughter, the jokes and the pain at the right moment.”
And it’s a relatively personal story for Júlía, who experienced a similar struggle years ago, when, stuck in a job she didn’t like and feeling unfulfilled by life, packed her things up and moved to New York for film school.
“Even though they say that you can’t escape all your problems or your own demons—like we may learn from Sara in the show—you can definitely drown some of them in beers at a diner in Brooklyn while writing a movie-script and, as you might imagine, I don’t regret that decision,” she says. “Especially not today.”
The whole season of ‘Norms’ will arrive to Stöð2+ on June 4th. On the same day, the first episode will be released on their YouTube channel. After that, one episode will be released each Friday on YouTube. Follow ‘Norms’ on Facebook here.
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