Dallas based TV series #WASHED launches season 2 with a powerful ensemble
In late January, Dallas Art Beat attended a screening of the Season 2 preview of the Dallas-based black television series, #WASHED. Created and Directed by two-time Regional Emmy Award Winner Jerod Couch, the series follows character Mark Fields through his quarter-life crisis, and through an ensemble cast examines the different struggles of various 30-somethings.
Season 1 of #washed is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime. Both seasons of the series boast a stellar local cast including Dennis Raveneau, Jaquai Wade Pearson, Nadirah Shakir, Byron Hardy, and Corey Pratt.
Now, 6 months after the season 2 screening, and in the midst of our intense and tumultuous year, Couch and the #WASHED team are excited to release season 2 on Amazon Prime, available beginning September 2. I had the opportunity to revisit our conversation from the premiere when last week I sat down with Couch, and two actors from the show: Byron Hardy (Eric) and Nadirah Shakir (Maya).
The inspiration behind #WASHED came from Couch’s personal experience. After graduating from film school at the University of Texas at Austin, working for ESPN, and receiving an MBA, Couch found himself unemployed. He shared: “I went from a sky rise office in downtown Dallas to the unemployment line. And I had the idea to tell the story of #WASHED. You know, when you're a kid, you're having ideas of where you're going to be in life by a certain age. And you get to 30, and you're none of those things. And for me, I was unemployed - even though I thought I was accomplished and I had done so much. So it was this mountain of internal conflict.”
In #WASHED the characters grapple with balancing career ambitions and a personal life, unmet desires for friendship and family, and we see characters make unscrupulous decisions in an effort to create something better for themselves. The series is full of beautiful Dallas locations and funny one-liners, but the series shines because of the humanity of the characters. The scenarios that play out are deeply relatable.
As independent filmmakers, the Couch production team learned a tremendous amount in the process of creating their first season. There’s a lot of meat in the script, but the first season bares the markings of an independent series. Couch shared that he wanted to “level up” for season 2 with a higher production value and deeper explorations of the characters. Based on the 3 episodes I got to preview, the team has succeeded in that goal. Season 2 of #WASHED opens with high energy, beautiful production value, and a new focus on some of the ensemble characters.
Couch credits a hard-working ensemble for the expansions in season 2: “We got to this point where season 2 really leveled up was because of all of the surprisingly talented people that came on and joined the team. All of the people we added in season two were just phenomenal. I can't say enough about them.”
In fact, both Hardy and Shakir jumped in and took on production roles in addition to the characters they embody in the series. Shakir (who plays the role of Maya) told me that while working on season 1, she realized how much work happens behind the scenes. So, for season 2, she put her hat in the ring. She said, “I was offered the role of Maya. And then I noticed that my director was also my Director of Photography, who was also my Gaffer, and so on. So, for season 2, I started doing more research and I told Jerod I’d be the Assistant Director for the new season. And it was the most beautiful, frustrating, annoying, lovely, wonderful thing that has ever happened to me because I've stretched as an actor and have more respect for people in production that I already had.”
Hardy, who plays the spiritually minded neighborhood drug dealer Eric, had a similar experience. He told me: “I also served as a part of the writing team, I was a producer, and I was a post audio mixer. You know, we realized Jared was doing just so much of the work on his own and carrying all of the production load. And we realized this was a much bigger project and everybody was going to have to step up and do more. So that's what I did.”
Couch added: “Season 2 brought in a true ensemble. The overarching theme is that this is a shared experience. In season 2, we really wanted to explore more of that feeling. It is a very universal experience.”