Series creator Champagna joins us on Close-Up Culture to talk about the new romantic comedy, Womb Envy.
The series follows the story of a gay party boy, Max, who is asked to play his estranged small-town best friend’s “Baby Daddy” consequently leading to the development of a rare condition known as Couvade Syndrome, in which an expectant father experiences some of the same symptoms and behavior as his pregnant partner.
What was your starting point for Womb Envy?
Womb Envy was the result of a fortuitous combination of circumstances. I had recently moved to Vancouver to pursue my passion for dance, which left me with plenty of free time and an urge to create something unique. Having lived in Edmonton, Alberta for seven years, I had been deeply inspired by the thriving theater scene there and believed that creating art was essential to being a true theater artist.
It was during a conversation with a friend, after reading Inga Muscio’s “Cunt,” that I first learned of Couvade Syndrome, which I found hilariously offensive in its premise of “provide and protect.” As a gay man, I was intrigued by exploring what misogyny looks like when perpetuated by those who may not realize they are upholding patriarchal ideals.
Can you tell us more about what the show explores?
Womb Envy explores the steely relationship between a party gay and his ex best friend from high school. After playing his beard during high school, a decade later she shows up asking him to pretend to be her baby daddy so her born again, in recovery, Mother doesn’t fall off her sobriety when finding out her daughter is having a child out of wedlock. The show digs into themes of how our sense of obligation to others can cause a whirlwind of problems if we aren’t honest with ourselves, showing up in meaningful ways for those we chose to keep in our lives, alcoholism, ableism and reimagining of what it means to be a “family”.
I understand you play a character called The Divine in the show. What can you tell us about The Divine and the other characters we will encounter in Womb Envy?
The Divine is fabulous. Period. Cheekiness aside, The Divine is the embodiment of Max’s (our main character) queerness. The overarching hand that has always been there for him when he had to hide who he was, some would say she’s his guardian angel. Maggie is Max’s estranged best friend from high school, asking a huge favor of him to pull one over on her in recovery, born again Mother, Dorothy. As Max and Maggie try to act like a happy straight couple, our main love interest Patrick shows up and throws a wrench into their whole plan.
This is the first scripted series written and produced with Integrated Described Video. How important for you was it to break this ground?
As a visionary, I know how difficult it can be to get people onto new ideas when they are scared of progress or stuck in their ways. As a queer person, I understand what it’s like to feel alienated from many things simply because of who I am, so when the idea of re-working the script into IDV was presented to us, it seemed natural and very important to say yes. Why wouldn’t we want to make our entertainment as accessible as possible, y’know? Creatives can be suuuuper married to their training, whether it’s writers, producers, actors etc., so my hope is that people will understand how the work only becomes better when they think more broadly. Show AND tell my friends. Your story will only benefit from it.
What can audiences expect from Womb Envy?
Twists and turns, romance and heartbreak, and an ensemble cast that brings so much heart to their characters that you can’t help but relate to each of them.
What are your hopes for the show?
When I brought Mark Keller on to help write the show, it was very important to us to keep our show queer in a way we have never seen on television before. My hopes are that this show opens more doors for queer stories that don’t compromise themselves for straight comfort.
Our vernacular isn’t crass…it’s steeped and informed in a culture that has had to find it’s own joy in a violently homophobic world. Our love isn’t unnatural…it’s a manifestation of freedom in its truest form. I hope people find themselves in our characters, and I hope having a scripted IDV show helps creative leads to challenge themselves and make more content for broader audiences.
Remember – there’s no such thing as normal.
Follow Champagna on Instagram – @champagna_papi