Online Dating – Lesbian Style – in “Seeking Simone”

Seeking Simone is a new lesbian web series about online dating that follow the adventures of Simone Selkin as she dates her way through Toronto. Simone is single, but she is far from ready to mingle. New to Toronto and trying to make the most of her big break on “CSIS:ForensicSWAT,” she is also still in the process of getting over her ex. When Simone’s best friend Audrey pushes her to give online dating a try the result is humorous, fun, addictive, and high quality lesbian entertainment. Created by Renée Olbert (who also plays Simone) and Rosemary Rowe (who also writes the series), Seeking Simone has quickly become a new favorite among the lesbian community. To learn more about the series, Cherry Grrl recently caught up it’s extremely talented and funny co-creators.

Cherry Grrl (CG): When and why did you decide to create this web series?
Renée Olbert (RO):
Well, in some ways we have to go way back in the vault to answer that question.  Rosemary and I have been friends for a really, really long time and for all of that time we have TALKED about “doing something” together.  So, in some ways Seeking Simone has been percolating for years… It was about a year ago that we decided to stop TALKING about it and start DOING it.  We were also really inspired by Felicia Day and her series The Guild.  Felicia’s success really illustrated to us that you can create scripted content online and people will watch it.  I think she is a huge benchmark for what online content creators can achieve and she is also such a huge champion of this medium.
Rosemary Rowe (RR): Yes! What Renée said! I think what it boils down to is that we wanted to create a show that we wanted to watch. And we didn’t want to wait around for someone to give us permission or approval or – ha ha – funding to do it.

CG: What is it about online dating that you feel provides so much material for a series like this?
RR:
Well, the search for love always offers great opportunities for comedy and pathos – often at the same time! But I think online dating in particular adds an extra layer to that delicious love cake. Online dating can artificially accelerate relationships – which can create some pretty intense situations.

In some ways it’s easier to meet someone online, because you get to skip the “basic questions” part of meeting someone new (Are they queer? Are they single? Will they mock your Joss Whedon shrine?). But in some ways, it’s scarier. You’ve admitted – publicly – that you’re lookin’ for love and when you meet this person, there can be a lot of pressure to know right away if this person is someone you can see yourself with long term. It puts you in a vulnerable position. And that’s pretty fun to watch.

CG: Do you each have personal, real-life positive experiences with online dating?
RO:
Haha… No.  I think this question is best answered by Rosemary.  She has a lovely and heartwarming story to share about the joys of online dating!  Rosemary, I give you the conch.
RR: Thanks, Renée. Yes, I have personal, real-life positive experiences with online dating – like Audrey, I met my wife Kate online. We had a very romantic email correspondence for a few weeks, because we were both too busy to actually meet in person. Then one Sunday, we went on a date. Then, two days later, I showed up at her apartment and NEVER LEFT. We lived the UHaul dream, Cherry Grrl! And I’m not ashamed!

CG: Do you think that lesbians tend to utilize online dating more than the straight community and if so why?
RR:
You know, that’s a good question. Based on my personal, completely unscientific experience, going the online dating route – and success with online dating – has been evenly split between my queer friends and my straight friends.

Again, in my personal experience, the divide is more along geek lines than sexual preference lines. I think that if you spend time online and are used to forming friendships with people you may never actually meet, then the idea of meeting your soul-mate online doesn’t seem strange. That’s not to say that only computer nerdz find love online – far from it – but folks who spend that kind of time online are more open to the idea.

CG: How would you describe Simone, when the series first begins?
RO:
When we first see Simone we see a woman starting a new chapter in her life. She’s in a new city, she has a new job – really a whole new life.  And I think she is absolutely excited about all the opportunities this new start offers her, but at the same time she’s pretty lonely and is feeling really vulnerable. She doesn’t know many people and misses a lot about her old life.

CG: What has lead her to try online dating for the first time?
RO:
Constant and unrelenting nagging from her best friend Audrey.  However, aside from that, as reluctant as Simone appears to be, there is a huge part of her that wants to find someone.  I think she’s really tired of being alone even if she’s unwilling to admit it. And I think that is a feeling that many people can relate to.  Opening yourself up to new experiences can be difficult especially when you’re in a rut. Even though Simone is pretty frustrated with Audrey’s meddling she’s also grateful to have a friend who cares enough about her to challenge her to try new things.

CG: Episode 2, Simone’s first date as a result of her venture into online dating, is hysterical. Things seemed to start off really well – where do you think she went wrong?
RO:
Vodka. But beyond the obvious poor, poor choice Simone makes in drinking far too much, I think at her core she’s really nervous.  She wants to make a good impression and ends up trying way too hard.  So ladies, the cautionary tale of the second episode is do not drink and date!  Let me rephrase: Do not drink TOO much and date!

CG: “Emotional crabs,” is brilliant. Who came up with that line?
RR:
I was hoping Renée would answer this one, so that it doesn’t look like I’m tooting my own frikkin’ horn. But ah…it was me. I often accuse people I dislike of having crabs, because it’s funny to me. But accusing someone of giving you “emotional crabs” – that’s lesbian break-up GOLD.

CG: Elisa comes off as possibly the most understanding and patient date ever. Will we see her again?
RO:
Oh Cherry Grrl… Loose lips sink ships!  But depending on how many Mai Tais Rosemary has had today you might get more of an answer out of her… (But you didn’t hear that from me….)
RR: I know, right? Elisa’s pretty great. But I’m not drunk enough to reveal anything further. Nice try, Cherry Grrl.

CG: So far two episodes are available – what has been the response so far?
RR:
It’s been really positive so far, both from the queer  community and from those crazy hets. Obviously, we hoped the lesbian community would enjoy it – I think it’s a universal human need to see stories about ourselves and for the lesbians, we just don’t get to see ourselves enough! So it’s been really amazing to get positive feedback directly from viewers about the show – that they find it funny and relatable, that they see themselves in Simone or Audrey (or ON Simone or Audrey – some of our viewers are dirty, dirty girls).

One of the coolest things and most unexpected things so far has been having the show translated into other languages – Paola from Lesbicanarias (http://lesbicanarias.es/) in Spain and Anja from Kweens (http://www.kweens.de/) in Germany have written subtitles for the episodes in Spanish and German, which has made the show available for so many more viewers on our YouTube channel. We’ve been blown away by their generosity and support!

CG: What can you tell us about the upcoming episodes?
RR:
There will be some girl on girl action. There will be donuts. And there will be a musical performance that will BLOW YOUR MIND.

CG: What has been the best part about doing the series for each of you?
RO:
Not to be a great big dork about it but that is a tough question to answer because this has been the most creatively fulfilling project I’ve ever worked on. It has been incredibly gratifying to see our series received so well by our community.  As with all artistic endeavors, you create something, hold your breath, and hope that people like it. I’m thrilled people like what they’ve seen so far and I hope that folks continue to laugh along with us.
RR: Anna Chatterton’s cleavage. And what Renée said.

For more about Seeking Simone visit http://www.seekingsimone.com.

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