Icing: Breaking Down “Broken Up”: The Binge-able Web Series About Dealing with Heart Break

In June 2017, UCB’s writer/performer Kerry O’Neill (Karate Karate) released her six episode web series Broken Up,which you can watch all six episodes at www.brokenup.cool.

Broken Up follows Kerry’s grieving process after a particularly brutal break up. In each episode, Kerry gets a visit from a new friend hoping to help her recover. It’s a sweet story about how important friends are. The series was written, created by, directed and edited by two women, Kerry O’Neill and Carmen Angelica, respectively.

I recently sat up an interview with Kerry to discuss the origins of her show, the creative process, & more. Watch and read:

COMEDY CAKE: Let’s kick it off with a question with an obvious answer but that I have to ask anyway: what was the inspiration for this series?

KERRY O’NEIL: Haha! Yeah the series is definitely based on a real life break up I went through last fall. Obviously being broken up with someone sucks because any rejection sucks, but the relationship itself was pretty co-dependent so the break up was particularly bad.

CAKE: How close was the show to how you actually dealt with your break up?

KERRY: I definitely did not leave my bed for about 4 days and Ruha actually came over and did a crystal healing on me (episode 1). Some of the other episodes were based on things that actually happened. I did have a similar conversation with Oscar (episode 4), Lyndsey did bring me fruit (episode 6), I did drink margaritas with Beth and Sarah (episode 5), but those things didn’t happen in my bed. I think that the series really highlights how much I leaned on my friends to get through a hard time, which I did. When you’re in a relationship it’s very easy to get caught up with your partner and let your friendships fall by the wayside. It’s hard work and balance to keep everything up in the air. I hope that people see my web series as a testament to friendship! Obviously all relationships, romantic or friendly, are a choice made by both parties but in a romantic relationship there’s this feeling that your partner is obligated to be there for you. Friends are never obligated to do anything– which makes friendships very rewarding and more valuable to me now.

CAKE: Gifting of junk food is a running bit throughout, where did that come?

KERRY: Ruha brought me some bomb ass cookies and chocolate when she came to do the crystal healing and I was like… “I can’t eat! I’m too depressed” so the idea was birthed from that. I was looking to make a series where you could watch the episodes standalone and still enjoy them, but I also wanted it to be a series with a through line, so the junk food was a way for me to weave a storyline through all 6 episodes. I think it worked pretty well and was fun to see pay off in episode 6.

“Broken Up” creator Kerry O’Neill

CAKE: With your first series finished, are you interested in creating more video narrative pieces? What were you looking to get out of the show?

KERRY: I definitely want to continue creating more video narrative pieces. I primarily have written sketch comedy for years, which is SO FUN and has helped me find my voice as a writer, but more and more I am interested in storytelling, which you just don’t get in a sketch. I really loved making some vulnerable that I felt people would relate to, so I definitely want to continue making vulnerable pieces. As far as what I was looking to get out of the show, I wanted a video calling card that I could send around and be like “Hey! Look at me! I’m funny and talented, I wrote and starred in this thing that’s GOOD and I made it happen on my own!!” I’m really proud of how it turned out and that I DID THAT- I wrote it, produced it, starred in it, coordinated everything, paid people, fed people, etc. It was a lot of work and I was responsible for doing it all. That’s a great feeling. Another answer to that question is I’m looking to get representation and writing jobs with this!

CAKE: There’s a specific format to the show; the idea of a revolving group of friends which, aside from being a creative way of introducing new characters, is also cheap, innovative way to keep the story moving while taking place in one location. Was this something you thought of when creating/producing the show?

KERRY: Oh, definitely! The idea came up organically after Ruha came over to do the crystal healing but then it was like “Whoa, yeah, I could really make this! It all takes place in my bed!” Having it all take place in my bed made, what could have felt like an insurmountable task, seem a little more achievable. Having a ton of insanely talented friends definitely helped, too. I didn’t even think about it being flat because it all takes place in someones room – just saying that out loud makes it sound kind of cheap, so I’m very happy that the writing/acting/cinematography kept it dynamic.

CAKE: How was the relationship with the director & did you have any interest in directing in your future?

“Broken Up” The web series

KERRY: Working with Carmen Angelica was a dream! I made a short film with my friend last year that we co-directed and I starred in and I really didn’t like the way my acting came out, so, when I wanted to act in this, I knew I had to get a director. I consider myself a writer first and don’t have a ton of interest in acting, but I knew I had to act in this and I wanted to have something I created/wrote/starred in. Carmen directed a play that Ruha and I wrote and starred in last fall and she was so great and really got the best performances out of the entire cast, so naturally I went to her. Carmen helped me every step of the way, giving me notes on my first drafts, directing on the day, and editing the entire series. I am so grateful for her and our working relationship and I definitely want to work with her again before she’s too famous to work with me anymore. Going forward I plan to write and direct the next project I do, and not act in it. I’ve AD’ed on projects before and definitely would love to direct my own thing—- as long as I’m not acting in it.

CAKE: There’s an earnestness & slight 90’s indie aesthetic to “Broken,” specifically in the use of handheld camera & the soundtrack. What were you influences for the show?

KERRY: Ah thank you! My cinematographer, Gabe Kimpson, really knocked this out of the park. We didn’t have much of a choice but go handheld since my bedroom is TINY, but I LOVE the way it came out. Gabe also wanted to start the series dark and get progressively lighter, which ended up working to a degree — The lighting kind of goes back and forth in the middle episodes but that’s kind of how recovering from a break up is, you’re good one day and super sad the next. The first episode is the darkest and the last is brightest, which I love. My influences for how I wanted the series to look were GIRLS, Blue Valentine, Reality Bites, and Lyndsey Frank’s web series Honest Roommates which Gabe also shot, and also looks beautiful.

“Broken Up”

Catch more of the series on Vimeo and brokenup.cool!

Mentions: Kerry’s writing can be seen on screen on The UCB Show on Seeso, as well as live on stage each month at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre with her house sketch team, Karate Karate. Broken Up also features UCB heavy-hitters Oscar Montoya, Ele Woods, Sarah Stoecker, Yesel Manrique, Ruha Taslimi, Beth Alexandroff, and Lyndsey Frank. Director and editor Carmen Angelica’s works can be seen on Cracked and The UCB Show on Seeso.

By Kee