What is parenthood? And why does society have stereotypes of what a parent should or should not be? Four Australian comedy web series in Melbourne WebFest spotlight selection challenge these questions and put their own spin on the concept of parenting.

The Drop Off (AUS), which takes place around the school drop off, looks into the relationship that forms between parents. Co-creator, producer, writer and performer Mike Mcleish, described the series as “ a tribute to our school community.” Through his own experiences at his local primary school drop offs they have “met so many weird, wonderful and downright funny characters”.

The project created by Mcleish and his wife Fiona Harris, is described as “an exaggerated version of reality.”

“Comedy can be pretty hollow if you don’t care for the characters who are cracking wise. The more invested you are in a character, the more they have the ability to make you laugh and/or cry, because you give a shit about them. Heart and soul is more important than three jokes per page,” says Mcleish.

The Drop Off | The Flirtinator

The Drop Off | The FlirtinatorEvery schoolyard has one.

Posted by The Drop Off on Sunday, 15 October 2017

The series discusses the perks of modern internet dating, to ex’s and sex and how these all interrelated with life as a parent. “Parents are an obvious target demographic, but the thing is, there isn’t a lot of talk about kids and ‘parent stuff’ in the show. These four people just happen to catch up in a school yard most days,” says Mcleish.

Mcleish likes to think “it’s what our characters have to say that connects to the audience, not where they are saying it”.

Challenging the norms surrounding parental figures, Little Sista (AUS) delves into the life of a woman who learns to grow up when she is paired with an at-risk youth in a Big Brother, Big Sister Programme. The first film project by creator, writer, actor, co-director and composer Charmaine Bingwa, the series is “very honest in showing that not everyone has the classic family unit or the support they need to flourish- especially the main characters.”

“I also think it sends a strong message of hope that you can find your spirit family anywhere,” says Bingwa.

A mix of both comedy and drama, Bingwa says it was important to showcase the themes of parenthood and the issues that may come with it in a tasteful short series. Adding the comic relief to serious issues, for Bingwa “it always comes back to the truth of the scene and how the character’s fight for what they need, to create the comedic moments.

The show deals with some serious issues like neglected children, emotional avoidance, bulling, growing up and relationship breakdown,” says Bingwa.

Apart from challenging the norms of parenting, the series also aims to normalise LGBTQ+ sexuality on the screen. For Bingwa it was important “that everyone is represented and that diverse stories are told so that we can have more empathy for each other.” Bingwa adds that it is “just a story where the relationship happens to be between two women”.

Exploring the friendship of two very different mothers and their techniques of parenting Sonia & Cherry (AUS) is a web series based loosely on Victoria Thaine, the writer and director, and her friendship with producer Naomi Mulholland. After experiencing parenthood and getting caught up caring for their children, Thaine realised it would be difficult to create new content together.

“I decided to write something that we could do on a shoestring budget and with the help of of some very talented creatives,” says Thaine. “The comedy evolves from the relationship between two friends who become mums, and realise that they have very different parenting styles…you navigate as a parent but no-one tells you about beforehand.”

Originally perceiving the series “to be a little provocative and the great benefit to having the series focus on the friendship is that as writers we can hide behind Sonia and Cherry as they judge each other’s parenting choices.” Thaine says that it allowed the production to open up and explore topics that may otherwise be handled in a more restrained manner.

Thaine believes that Sonia & Cherry “highlights the minefield that parenting is in the modern world and the information overload you have to deal with when making any small decision in relation to your child.”

“It’s not just about a friendship, but about how every decision you make as a parent is often scrutinised…there is a lot of self-doubt as a parent- everyone is just muddling through,” says Thaine.

The series is predominantly aimed at mums, but Thaine is interested to see if it attracts a wider audience. The Melbourne WebFest will be the series’ first public screening. 

Focusing on the relationship between mother and daughter, The F*ck it List (AUS) is about the dysfunctional relationship of a mother and daughter as they attempt to complete a lifelong Bucket list. Claudia Fitzgerald, the writer, director and editor of series says she has “always been interested in family relationships, in particular the mother/daughter relationship.”

The web series was inspired by her relationship with her mum who she would now consider to be one of her best friends. “I think the time in your life where your mum is no longer just your mum but more of a close friend is very interesting, there are growing pains as you begin to see them as real people instead of someone that is there to look after you,” says Fitzgerald.

Wanting to “create a series focused on the complexity of the mother/daughter relationship while having fun with the content”, Fitzgerald believes the end product has captured this aim. Challenging the “normal” parent and child relationship, the series “is more like the child in their interactions.”

“When your kids leave home it can be a mixture of freedom and sadness, for the last 20 odd years you’ve been raising these human beings and now they are out in the world without you and I think that can be a hugely challenging time for a parent. I think this series is all about the imperfect nature of motherhood and family relationships, while still pulling focus to the themes of love and acceptance,” says Fitzgerald.

So if you’re a parenting genius with skills to offer, come along to Melbourne WebFest and watch these series with us.