Everything’s Gonna Be Okay follows Nicholas (Josh Thomas), who becomes the caretaker of his half-siblings after his father’s untimely death. Freeform’s freshman comedy follows Nicholas’ journey as he attempts to be a parent, balance a relationship, navigate grief and raise two teenage sisters one of which is on the spectrum.
Thomas, who not only stars in the show but is also the creator, leans into the characters rather than the story.
“They were three characters I wanted to do — the show has a premise, but I don’t really care about the premise,” he said, laughing, during Deadline’s Contenders Television virtual event. “I’m interested in seeing three people and how they grow up and how they look after each other and how they survive the day?”
For his last show Please Like Me, Thomas pulled from personal experiences to help tell the story, but with Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, he said it isn’t autobiographical — except for a scene where he pours ceviche on his boyfriend’s head. Thomas said this happened in real life which resulted in a huge fight where he saw the love drain from his boyfriend’s eyes. They broke up — but Thomas saw it as an opportunity to inject some of his experiences into the show.
He laughed, “The best way to win the fight was to put it in the TV show!”
Actresses Kayla Cromer and Maeve Press play the aforementioned teenage sisters. Cromer is one of the first actresses on the spectrum to play a character living with autism, a win for representation.
“We all share this planet, no one is perfect,” Cromer said. “Actors with and without differences should get the chance to audition for any role…audiences help your ratings, buy movie tickets and buy your streaming services and casting needs to reflect the real world. It’s time to be seen on the small and big screen.”
For Press, she was very much in tune withe her character, show and Thomas’ humor. “He writes with honesty and my comedy is honest,” she said. “I feel that my comedy and his writing were a natural match — and I’m happy it worked out!”
When it comes to creating the show, Thomas didn’t want to approach it from a social action initiative.
“I didn’t include queer people or neurodiverse people because I wanted to save the world,” he said. “I included them because I think they are engaging characters and have interesting stories that don’t get told that much and that’s a fun TV show to watch.”
He continued, “I know that representation is important and there aren’t many shows that feature female autistic characters and I know that is going to be a big deal and important to a lot of people so we make sure we do it responsibly.”
Check out the panel video above.
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