Comedic and gay-leaning web series EastSiders, which is exclusively distributed on Logo TV’s website, is tackling a controversial subject that few shows do: abortion. In the show’s sixth episode – which debuts this afternoon at 3 p.m. ET – Kathy (Constance Wu) grapples with the decision to abort a pregnancy that came out of a relationship with her good-guy boyfriend Ian (John Halbach). Kathy laments her situation to pal Cal (Kit Williamson) in a funny and heartbreaking scene that – what do you know? – EW has an exclusive first look at. “I don’t have a f—ing cold, Cal,” Kathy tells her pal, after he offers to make her some soup. “I am pregnant.”
Williamson – who plays Cal – is also the show’s writer-director, so in addition to the clip, which you can find below, he took out a few minutes to answer a few questions about why it was necessary to tackle the sometimes-touchy subject and much, much more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY How did this story come about? What led to you deciding to have Kathy go through an abortion on EastSiders?
KIT WILLIAMSON Kathy and Ian are at a crossroads in their lives – they both know that they’re at an age where they’re supposed to settle down but that’s not really part of Kathy’s nature. From the very first episode, their relationship has been on a much faster track than either of them ever intended and an unwanted pregnancy seemed like a natural extension of that.
Was it a difficult decision to create such a storyline? Why or why not?
I didn’t want to shy away from the subject just because some people consider it controversial. It isn’t a controversial subject for me at all. I knew that there might be some negative reactions to it, but once I wrote the episode I felt like it would be cowardly not to go through with it.
Did you have the feeling that abortion was something that needed to be portrayed more realistically on screen?
The most realistic examples I can think of are Parenthood or Friday Night Lights, but both of those shows were dealing with teenage pregnancy, which is a very different situation. Several of my friends have had abortions, and I’ve never really seen an abortion on a TV show that reflected their experience. I’m not saying it’s fun, but it’s not always the horribly conflicted, nightmarishly difficult decision it’s made out to be. There’s never any question for Kathy that terminating the pregnancy is the right decision – it’s something that she feels is a necessity. Kathy’s life would need to be completely restructured to accommodate having a child, and she doesn’t feel like she’s ready. Her relationship isn’t ready. So she makes the choice to wait until she is. She probably should’ve told Ian about the pregnancy, but the fact that she didn’t is almost further evidence that they aren’t ready to raise a child together – they aren’t even able to talk about the situation.
Do you think this takes on any sort of different dimension since EastSiders is a gay-themed series?
Well, as far as most conservative groups are concerned, my gay-themed web series is already going to hell, so I guess I have a lot more freedom to explore the subject matter without worrying about what people think.
Had you considered taking the pregnancy in a different direction?
I didn’t feel like that would be true to the character. I didn’t have a political agenda in including the story line, but I did feel a responsibility to the characters to go through with it. Most TV shows rely on miscarriages or sudden changes of heart to avoid controversy, but that would feel artificial to me.
For those who have seen the episode/scenes, what has been the reaction so far? What do you hope the reaction is from fans?
There have been some eyebrows raised, but so far the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive! I hope that the fans are able to empathize with the characters and go on the journey with them.
Tanner on Twitter: @TannerStransky