What happens when a couple of Millennials find themselves in charge of tiny human beings who are even less equipped to deal with the world than they are? Well, in the case of the popular web series, Millennial Parents, the results are hilarious, fun, and all-too relatable. Co-creators Jake Greene and Natalie Irby illustrate how much better kids have it nowadays, the accessibility of the show’s premise, even for non-parents (selfie, anyone?), and the similarities of Millennial Parents to The Blair Witch Project.
Q: I’m curious to know if Kurt, the father in Millennial Parents, is the model for you, Jake, and if there’s a little bit of Annie, the mother in the show, in you, Natalie.
JG: There’s a lot of Kurt that’s rooted in ridiculous habits and insecurities that I have. Kurt really wants to be cool, and he can’t understand why he can’t be as cool as he was before he had kids. But the fact is, (after you have kids), you’re growing less and less connected to all of these footloose and fancy-free young, cool people. Past generations used to be able to tap out from pop culture and not go to the movies for a decade—which we talk about in one of the episodes—but this generation is way too, “I need to keep my game up.” It’s not that we’re not cool, it’s just that we’re not as cool.
NI: A different kind of cool.
JG: Objectively, it’s tough to be a cool parent. It’s hard to be legitimately cool and a parent, if you’re trying to be a responsible parent. Natalie doesn’t have kids and is single.
Q: Are you the cool friend, Natalie?
NI (laughs): Maybe some circles would say so, but I’m not as cool as I used to be, either.
JG: She’s super cool. She’s trendy. She’s got the cool loft apartment. When we were putting this project together, Natalie was also the filter of, “Why would anyone who doesn’t have kids care about this joke?”
NI: We found that we had a very compatible approach to tackling projects. We have different strengths and kind of fill in the gaps and don’t step on each other’s toes and encourage each other’s strengths.
Q: What are each of your strengths?
JG: The reason why the show looks the way it looks—even though it was shot pretty efficiently and cost-effectively—is all Natalie. She’s much more of a visual artist, and I’m much more joke-centric.
NI: I deal with the imagesand the aesthetic, and Jake deals with the people and the dialogue.
JG: My stuff tends tobe wackier, and her stuff tends to be more emotionally driven. This project was right in-between. And it helps that she has this serious acting background. Sometimes my notes are just pure ridiculousness.
NI: But they’re great!
Q: I’m pretty sure that being on that set is a blast all day long. Please tell me that that’s true.
NI: That’s true. We’ve formed quite the family bond.
JG: We have a really good time. Laura Eichhorn (who plays Annie) is a mother—she’s got a little boy—and she really brings a lot of that. And Lea (who plays Kurt), has the ability to really hit the emotion and not only be funny, but also let people work off of him. Laura has this great comedic improv background and is so targeted at knowing where a joke should hit. It makes it fun for us when we have the amount of trust to shape jokes in the moment, and it lets Natalie take some visual risks … Some of the best moments are when you’re able to watch them work, uninterrupted.
Q: Jake, I know you pull from experiences in raising your own two sons. Are any episodes or scenes a little too autobiographical?
JG: If you look at episode 201, “Stripper Babysitter”—which is not an experience I’ve had—he goes on a whole rant about how much better kids have it today with electronic dance music and how much more fun that is than what we had in college, and I totally, 100 percent agree with that. I’m super bitter that I was in college during Phish and jam bands, and not awesome dance party music.
Q: You feel cheated out of your Skittle bra?
JG: I don’t feel like my body type is right for the Skittle bra, necessarily. But our music was so depressing. It was extremes—you either had internalized jam bands or super California power punk, which was fun until your brain exploded three songs in. I’m not ready to be a 35-year-old guy wearing a candy bracelet and trying to keep up with the kids. But yeah, each of these episodes is rooted in a pretty specific identity issue, and a lot of them are things that Natalie and I have talked about. I have a big problem with the “man cave.” You’ve accepted that you have a little playroom, and you literally try to make it look as sharp as possible. I know so many guys who do this. It’s cool if you have a “guy room” and you’re honest about why you’re only allowed to get that room dirty, but if you’re trying to pretend that you’re the king of the castle, then it’s ridiculous.
Q: Natalie, do you have a favorite episode?
NI: Off the top of my head, I would say that my favorite episode is “The Last And,” but that’s from a creative perspective because we did it all in one shot.
Q: Tanner, the baby in the show, is pretty much nonexistent. Was that intentional, or did it become a running gag?
JG: It was absolutely intentional. The show is about the parents and how they respond to life change and chaos that’s caused by having a kid, but as soon as you show a baby onscreen, the show is about the baby. I used to work with a guy who edited horror movies, and his thing was that, in the best horror movies, they don’t show the monster. If you think about Blair Witch, you never see the Blair Witch, but it’s so much scarier and intense when you’re trying to anticipate what the baby can cause.
Q: So the baby is the Blair Witch.
JG: Well, if you loved the Blair Witch and were willing to lay down your life for the Blair Witch. At the core, this is a pretty simple show about two people that love each other very much and are totally overwhelmed by the new life circumstances they’ve created for themselves, both in terms of a daily rhythm standpoint and in terms of how their identities are shifting.
Q: I love that most episodes are around two minutes. Is the super short format a nod towards the viewing habits of most Millennials or a nod to the time constraints of most parents?
NI: All of the above.
JG: We had done some longer form stuff together, but when we were talking about how to lay this out, it fit the sort of digestible comedy of the old cartoons in the Sunday paper. Episodes are created around a single issue and, really, a single joke.
Q: Name one thing that’s easier about being a new parent in 2015.
JG: You have access to other parents’ experiences, so that makes the world a little bit less scary. You also have access to all of their paranoia. But if your kid has a rash, you can look up a similar rash online and realize it’s not some freak disease that’s been brought over by mosquitoes.
Q: Now name one thing that’s way, way harder.
JG: I think one thing that’s super hard is that people are so worried about how they brand their families now. It used to be that you could tell your kid, “Be on your best behavior—we’re going to a party,” and that party would basically establish what people thought of you and your family until the next party. But now, it gets back to our episode called “Rollercoaster World.” So often I see these pictures online that have been touched up. If you look in the background, you realize there was no way that was an awesome day. They’re on the verge of getting divorced, and they post this picture with “Epic experience! #love.”
NI: I think that’s everybody, not just parents. It’s false advertising of such perfect lives.
Q: So what’s next for Millennial Parents?
JG: To keep going with this show and growing the audience and finding new platforms to expand the storytelling. We’ve got a number of season three episodes that are queued up, and we’re having conversations about ways we could produce the show on a larger scale.
Tune in every Tuesday for new episodes of Millennial Parents at http://www.millennialparents.com.