Diana Popovska and Peter William-Jamieson’s Australian web-series PLANS, premiered on YouTube this week. The Sydney shot series is intended to represent diverse queer stories on screen, and the first episode gives us a glimpse into what those stories will be.
The audience is introduced to a group of friends on Zia’s (Rahel Romahn) first day in Sydney. The group feels familiar to many ensemble series, which makes it approachable, but the characters in PLANS are unique and under-represented onscreen.
With such a large group of people and the short time frame necessary for an online series, some of the characters are lost in the mix and not entirely fleshed out in this premiere episode. It would be nice to get a little bit more sense of who these people are beyond their names and their love lives.
That being said, it is a good thing to want to see more of characters. The ensemble is interesting and the first episode a good introduction that scratches the surface on their lives.
Jay’s (Peter William-Jamieson) storyline, in particular, stands out as one that is bold and new. Various interest groups have called out against the cliché in film and television that kills off queer characters, termed: “Bury Your Gays.” It’s a trope that GLAAD, an LGBTQ media organisation, have denounced, especially because it usually serves as a superfluous way to advance straight characters’ storylines, according to their Where We Are on TV 2016-2017 report.
In Jay’s case, we find him grappling with an already deceased partner, a storyline that is usually ignored in traditional media. Rather than killing off a gay character for a straight person’s storyline, we see how a gay man is grieving with loss. This story, alongside other queer narratives, is where PLANS shines. By bringing attention to queer people in groundbreaking ways, it can bring in audiences that crave representation on screen.
The soundtrack (ALPHAMAMMA, Annabel Weston, Bree Tranter, Edward R., Enola Gay, Haiku, Inti Ray, IV League, Justine Eltakchi, Kat Vinter, Leanne Russo, Leura, Little Hart, Lyall Moloney, Majora, Malo Zima, Moon Holiday, Nic Cassey, Rainbow Chan, Twin Caverns, Violet Swells, Yuuca, and Zane Francis) is as enjoyable as the narrative and, while some of the lines are delivered in an awkward manner, the majority of the writing and acting is natural, particularly the food fight and scenes between Alice (Katie Robertson) and Koby (Johnny Emery). The passion that was obviously put into the web series will no doubt push it to increase in quality as word, and viewership, increases.
PLANS is a perfect example of the benefits of online media as a way to showcase diverse stories. Queer characters do not regularly star in every series, and an independent online production is one of the best ways for filmmakers to explore these characters and reach an international audience that craves representation.
All up there’ll be seven episodes, with new episodes released every Sunday. We’ll certainly be, um, making plans to tune in to find out how it all pans out.