“Bridesman,” which debuted April 1, is the first original webseries for Grindr. (All six 7–10-minute episodes are now available on the Grindr YouTube channel). The title character, Terry (Jimmy Fowlie), is the “forever partner” of Judith (Sydnee Washington), who is engaged to Wyatt (David Mudge). However, Terry is not comfortable with marriage and monogamy, and sets out to seduce Wyatt, who is said to be bisexual. Needless to say, chaos ensues.
“Bridesman” is amusing as Terry drops one-liners, pop culture references, and occasionally, his trousers, as he tries to be there for his bestie while also planning sabotage. (Fowlie delivers a suitably arch performance). However, his plans may be thwarted by the Maid of Honor, Muriel (Shannon DeVido).
PGN spoke with Fowlie and series creator John Onieal about “Bridesman.”
What prompted you to make and sell this series to Grindr?
Onieal: My writing partner Frank and I wrote this series well in advance of making the Grindr connection. At SXSW, I heard Grindr was looking for comedic content. I made contact with their marketing team, and I hounded them until they read the script because I thought it was a great match for their audience.
What sparked the idea of the series and the character of Terry?
Onieal: It was absolutely inspired by true life. I’ve been the bridesman at so many weddings. Modern wedding culture is gendered and there are so many traditions and rituals around it. Seeing this through the gay or queer perspective is pretty funny. I also wanted to recenter the narrative of the gay best friend and make Terry an antihero. That’s why we wanted him to be a terror. We went with Jimmy because he brought a loveable aspect to it.
Jimmy, how did you find the character of Terry?
Fowlie: When I first read the script, I was like: This character has no redeeming qualities! I kept looking for the softer side that would win the audience over. But Terry is free and fun and speaks his mind. He has no filter, which is fun for the audience — is he really saying that? And he is sex positive. Terry was like a raw nerve where he was just fully in his feelings and kind of silly. He is all the emotions. I tried to play him as real as possible, but he was very heightened and feels everything really big. I tried to find vulnerability in him.
Are you as cynical about love and marriage as Terry is?
Fowlie: I’m different than Terry. I’m more of a romantic, and kind of sappy. While I’m sex positive person, I’m not as adventurous at Terry is. But the end of the story, Terry did lock into what’s romantic for him — even though he didn’t take the time to know the man’s name. [Laughs.]
This is made for Grindr. Is the audience really looking for a comedy about marriage?
Onieal: We joke that comedy is the greatest aphrodisiac, and people are logging in for the laughs, but Grindr surveyed its users and they said they are interested in comedy made for them, and the way that it is matched with them is that we are appealing to questions Grindr users have. What do relationships look like? How should they look? How should they be recognized? Terry represents a type of Grinder user — he is open, non-monogamous, and shirks at the idea of tradition. That is one type of Grindr user. Someone looking for marriage is another. Those questions are on the minds of anybody on a gay dating app. There are a few straight people involved in this production and we had them download the app on the day of the release to see how it was advertised, and they were taken aback. On the day of our drop there were probably more straight people on the app than ever before. But the series has been watched well over 1 million times in the first week.
The show features wordplay, physical humor, slow-motion, and running gags to keep the laughs coming in every episode. Jimmy, how did you play up the different types of humor?
Fowlie: In terms of his physicality, he was just a selfish child. He was a toddler in really tight clothes. There was an animalistic part of him, and I tried to tap into that. He tried to conceal his true objective. Terry is mischievous. [Stealing a fiancé] is the worst thing you can to do to a friend. He was doing things to look like he was a good person, but he was serving himself.
One might expect “Bridesman” to be naughtier, given the Grindr connection but the show implies nudity and features only a few same-sex kisses. Can you talk about that decision or was there a restriction?
Fowlie: I was game for whatever, but it’s for the best that my penis and butt wasn’t all over the internet and Grindr.
Onieal: I think that would have been huge for your career! We wrote the series before they partnered with us, and they were very cool with us having as much or as little sex that we thought made sense for the series.