Ahead of the arrival on Netflix, Whitney and Megan from The Femme Edition got to chat via zoom with the lovely, and funny, stars and co-creators of ‘Why Are You Like This’ (WAYLT). Humyara Mahbub and Naomi Higgins are friends in real life and the co-creators of the show. Olivia Junkeer plays an Asian femme bisexual, Mia. The show is very LGBTQ+, unapologetic and quite frankly, relatable and hilarious. Is it really based on themselves? Does Mia have a female love interest? Will there be a season 2?! Read on to find out more!
It was evening in Australia when they all joined us on zoom video chat. Hum explains that she’s just got in from work and is in her PJ’s, Naomi is quickly applying her makeup as she didn’t realise it’s being recorded and Liv is the last to join, with her hair in beautiful mermaid waves (that she proudly shows us). All three are naturally stunning, and as we come to find out, absolutely hilarious with a great rapport together. Quite frankly making us want to be their new bff’s and appear in season 2. (Kidding, but not really…)
Turns out that the concept of the 6 part series WAYLT is based on real life friends and the personalities of Hum (Mia, played by Olivia aka Liv), Naomi (Penny, played by herself) and Naomi’s gay male friend (who shall remain anon) in the form of Austin (played by Wil King). Naomi is a stand up comedian and you may recognise Liv as Yashvi Rebecchi in Neighbours! Whereas Hum has a very different background as a lawyer and freelance illustrator. So how did the concept of the series come from and is it really based on themselves? Naomi informs us (while laughing) “unfortunately yes it is! The characters aren’t very good people… So yes that is us! (Hum laughs). It’s based on our friendship. We were applying for a grant in a competition and we were given a show on ABC in Australia and Netflix.”
The character of Mia, loosely based on Hum, who is South Asian, bisexual and openly speaks her mind. Liv expanded about her character, “She has a lot of opinions and she’s not afraid to express them. She basically just goes around Melbourne like telling anyone who will listen to what she has to say. I relate to her a lot unfortunately, I hate saying that now because everyone’s like “the characters are so awful!” I always say she’s like the voice in my head and I’m too afraid to say everything she says.” Mia as even thought to be too mean and an unlikeable charatcer and that “no one will like this woman” by some but Hum humoursly interjects, “well I have plenty of friends so… weirdly this whole press tour has been like “so these characters are based on you… you’re awful… tell us about that! What’s that like?” I mean I’m doing fine!” Naomi jokes that they’re fine and it’s everyone around them that have the problem, a feeling that probably a lot of milennials and Gen Z’s can relate to.
Going from the wholesome TV show Neighbours to WAYLT seems like quite a change for Liv. We wanted to find out what drew her to Mia and if she’s any way alike. Liv laughs and agrees, “yeah, it is a bit different to Neighbours! I am, and I am not, like Mia. I think I’m like Mia behind closed doors”. Liv further explains, “In public I’m really shy and reserved and I don’t want to talk to anyone. Mia is like loud and draws attention wherever possible.” Liv also wasn’t nervous to audition for the role, as she as contracted to Neighbours, she didn’t think she could actually get the part. As for her inspiration for Mia, Liz tells us that she’s basically acting like her sister, Tash. Hum added that when casting, they saw lots of people that weren’t right for Mia, but “when we saw Liv with were like ‘oh this bitch gets it”! Liv I don’t know if you remember, but you said ‘I really like her, she’s just like my sister!'”
It’s fair to say that Liv was pretty shocked when she received the call that she got the part of Mia – “I was like ‘what the fuck?!’ I got the call and someone goes “so how do you feel about playing with a lot of fake cum?” I was like “ummm… good?” (it’s worth noting that at this point in the interview Hum and Naomi are laughing so much that they are no longer on the screen) . Liv continues that she replied “Good I feel good about it, feel great!” and that was it, the role was hers! Hum jokes that it sounds like a human rights violation and Naomi clarified that they didn’t get Liv to play with fake cum but that they didn’t want to be stuck with anyone that felt uncomfortable talking about subjects like that.
** Spoiler alert ** we just had to find out if we can look forward to Liv having a female love interest…. and the answer is yes! However Naomi added that actually none of the characters really fully ‘date’ anyone in the show. Naomi explained, “That was one thing, especially shows about women tend to be about dating all the time, which we find a bit boring. I think Penny is the only one that doesn’t have a love interest. There’s a whole episode where Mia is trying to get laid! Doing everything she can!”
The character of Penny is based on Naomi, who age describes as “a straight white woman, quite anxious. (She) wants to be the best ally she can but I think she’s, you know, so passionate and righteous, that it often ends up going pear shaped. Which I think a lot of people can see in themselves or people they know. But maybe their passion outweighs their knowledge!… Her hearts in the right place but I don’t know if she’s a good ally in practice.”
So how alike is Naomi to Penny? Naomi explains, “Penny is me a few years ago when I was more anxious. Now I would say I’m more brash than Penny. Hum & I are quite blunt like Mia, but in terms of making the characters different and making the relationship really dynamic, Penny is more polite than I am. I could probably take a thing or two from Penny! Caring about people a little more.”
Naomi jokes as to why she wanted to play herself, “You’ll be like ‘oh my god who is this, Cate Blanchett!’ Short answer, I wanted to play Penny, I wanted the attention! Acting is just play time and it’s a job.
Where as Austin, the third character, is described by Naomi as “a baby drag queen. He believes that he is a very, very special person. He’s kind of obnoxious. He goes through a lot!”
It’s safe to say that ‘Why Are You Like This’ is a very LGBTQ+ progressive show, with allyship. It’s great to see not only bisexual representation from Mia’s character, but also South Asian representation as well. Both of which are not often visibly seen in the media. Was this an important part to convey in the show? Hum explained that they didn’t even think about it from that point of view, “Naomi is genuinely a true ally in this, we didn’t really think it and when we got to the application stage people looking at it were like “oh it’s good it has this”. It just was our lives.” Naomi agreed and added that the diversity side of the show hadn’t occured to her, ” I just wanted to make something with Hum because I was like “this girl’s crazy!” … My friend who Austin is based on… We were at brunch and he said “please don’t make it straight!” and I was like “yeah, you’re right! I won’t make them straight!” Those are the kind of voices that we need, just have people screaming out, “make it gay though!”
We concur, that’s pretty much our lives – make it gay! As soon as there’s a lesbian or bisexual character in a new TV show or movie, we’re ready to watch it! Which we’re sure is the same for all of our followers/ readers.
Even Naomi, who identifies as straight, says “it’s just more interesting than those straight white cis stories. They’ve been told, how many times! There’s so much rich stuff just literally from our lives, we’re just telling our own stories. People have never heard “decolonize my pussy” on TV before, I guess we’re breaking ground!”
We asked how they would describe WAYLT in one word. Naomi quickly said, “for your readership, the word would be “gay”. It is pretty queer! People have used the word transgressive a lot. I looked up the definition and it’s just like crossing a line, and I guess that does work pretty well.” Hum put forward chaotic and Liv agreed. “Chaotic, gay, transgressive, you’ve got it!” Hum declared, and added “girls! For your readership. Gay & girls!” Well, what more could we want ladies?!
To end our interview, we asked what do they hope people will take away from the show. Naomi puts forward “I wouldn’t say it’s a very hopeful show or uplifting show, I’d say it’s firmly rooted in nihilism which I think it’s an opinion that a lot of young people share. “The world is fucked” is the message of the show!” Hum echoes this, “like Nom said I think a lot of young people think that way so we aren’t giving them anything new to take away, we’re just confirming all their most deeply held fears and also truths.. Nothing matters! That’s a tag line!” It’s certainly clear it’s a very unapologetic and refreshingly relatable series.
Naomi and Hum would love to do a season 2 but it depends on how well WAYLT Season 1 does. “It has to come out and we have to see if people watch it! So watch it everyone! Tell your friends!”, says Naomi. “We’ve already thought of a million ways to punish these characters more than we already have, so we would love to do it more. Its funny to see these awful characters in pain!”
Well we’re certainly glad to hear that there’s hope for a season 2, as we can already tell that 6 episodes will not be enough! Our interview ends rather hilariously with our dog, a pomchi that had been sleeping on our laps, making an appearance wearing a pineapple outfit. We had to explain that the pineapple outfit calms her down and Hum exclaimed, “NAMOI WRITE IT DOWN! We’ve got to have a dog that goes quiet when you put her in a pineapple in season 2. I’m writing it down!” Well, you heard it here first!
If you’re not quite convinced if WAYLT is the show for you, here are some final words from Naomi:
“We have a femme bisexual on the show, they (TFE readers) should have fun with that. I mean look at Liv, look at that. Imagine Liv dancing with another beautiful woman in slow motion because thats what you’re going to get!” Hum chimes in, “thats in there! And we’re not going tell you which episode, so you have to watch it all!”
On that note, let’s get watching!