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Freckle and Bean Review

on Wed, 12/15/2010 - 00:00

Hollywood. The glamour, coupled with the lure of celebrity-status and success, makes it the destination of choice for hundreds of actors and actresses from across the country. In reality, however, Los Angeles is an endless series of meaningless auditions and low-paying service industry jobs that serve as part of a waiting game until that lucky break comes along. Although it seldom does, the trek is still constantly and consistently made by those who believe they can buck the odds. So it is with James and Emma from the web series Freckle and Bean, two actress roommates living their dream even if that dream is always just out of reach.

While the struggles of wannabe actors waiting on tables in the shadows of Los Angeles is a fertile premise for a situation comedy, Freckle and Bean actually conjures up memories of Milwaukee rather than Southern California. More specifically, the Shotz Brewing Factory where two twentysomething females likewise attempted to “make their dreams come true” a handful of decades earlier. Although miles apart location-wise, Freckle and Bean emulates the spirit of Laverne & Shirley nonetheless and is every bit as funny as that 1970s television classic.

Much of the credit goes to Elena Crevello and Heather McCallum, the two real-life friends and struggling actresses who co-created Freckle and Bean. In their respective roles as James and Emma, they bring a combination of innocence, optimism and enthusiasm to the characters and a chemistry that adds an underlying charm to the web series. Like Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney before them, there is also an unstated rivalry between these two best friends, yet they still look out for each other nonetheless as they make their way through the undercurrents of modern day Los Angeles.

Instead of Lenny and Squiggy living upstairs from them, James and Emma have next door neighbor Ken (Kris Sharma)—another Hollywood wannabe who believes that performing stand-up comedy routines at an old age home is a prime career path. James and Emma also rent their dining room as a “third bedroom” to the silent but always lurking Chase (Bobby Gold). Then there’s Skye Holloway (Betsy Cox), a Paris Hilton-like celebrity that James has somehow befriended and continually runs to the aid of when the paparazzi has Skye cornered. The snobbish Joie (Bailey Conway) and James’ boyfriend Oliver (Joshua Snyder) round out the cast.

While the situations that James and Emma find themselves in may be different than those of Laverne and Shirley, they are just as entertaining and funny. From watching Ken perform stand-up comedy at the Bel Air Home for Senior Citizens (“Why do they call them coffins anyway, you’re not doing any coughing in there”), to James purchasing an eight-ball in a darkened alley for Skye while dressed in urban attire (“Yo, no, check it, word”), to Emma securing a date with a major actor and his dog (“This guy is a freak”), to James throwing a quarter at another girl talking to Oliver (“I hit her in the head with a quarter—she could have died”), Freckle and Bean is filled with small scenes of high comedic proportion that ultimately tie together to form an exceptional web series.

“The show is essentially based on our lives in Los Angeles, but we wanted to make it a little more off-beat and quirky, and create a really colorful world that the characters, Freckle and Bean, inhabit,” web series co-creator Elena Crevello explains. “But every story pretty much comes from our own experiences with celebrities in Los Angeles, auditions, boyfriends, friends, etc. Some of the lines in the show are even just direct quotes from either ourselves or things people have said that we have found ridiculous and just put in the show.”

Crevello and Heather McCallum actually created Freckle and Bean during the Writers Guild of America strike of 2007 and 2008. With the uncertainty of work opportunities looming overhead, the two actresses decided to take fate into their own hands and produce their own showcase. “We were feeling frustrated as actors with what auditions were being offered to us and wanted to create a show that we would enjoy and characters we would want to play,” Crevello says. But even after the writing was completed, they discovered the pitfalls and obstacles involved in such an endeavor.

“We shot this show actually two years ago,” Crevello elaborated in December 2010, “but had so many issues with getting it edited, and some former editor of ours deleted a bunch of footage which set us back, and then also getting a website up, funding, etc., that it took us forever to launch the show.”

But launch it they did, a feat that is a true testament to their determination and belief in their creation. Which is fortunate, as Freckle and Bean is an entertaining web series and enjoyable addition to the growing medium. Emma may have “freckles” and James may be tall and thin like a “bean,” but their comedic antics are a welcome throwback to the “golden age of television sitcoms” and one of its most underrated entries, Laverne & Shirley. The two female roommates of Freckle and Bean share the same hopes and dreams as the two Shotz Brewery workers, albeit in a different time and setting, and their quest to achieve those dreams resonate today just as much as they did in the past.

In fact, one can almost imagine James and Emma, as well as their real-life counterparts Elena Crevello and Heather McCallum, linking their arms together while shouting, “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

Anthony Letizia (December 15, 2010)

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