So the year’s not quite yet over, but I feel pretty confident in saying this: the independent comedy series Vag Magazine is one of my favorites of the year.
The six-episode series, which began running last week on Vimeo (releasing new episodes every Monday), features Sarah Claspell as Megan, the sole survivor of a fashion magazine taken over by a team of third-wave feminists who want to transform the mag into a Grrrrl Power extravaganza.
This means an editorial team which includes a roller derby star and a female Hunter S. Thompson figure, headed up by three women who invoke every feminist cliche. Says Sylvie (Jocelyn Guest) when asked to look at a selection of skirts in Episode 2: “I don’t look over anything, Megan. I wasn’t born with the power of the male gaze.”
Vag is a classic example of a web series targeted towards a very specific audience — in this case, women who have read the magazine Bust and, while enjoying the vegan cuisine and crafting tips, wondered if there wasn’t a little bit more to third-wave feminism.
But just as a non-gamer can appreciate most of the humor of Legend of Neil, those unfamiliar with Bust‘s editorial content can still find the humor in reuseable menstrual pads (it’s seriously a thing, guys) and “female-positive” statements like “all of the slurs we called each other were gender-neutral.” The writing is sharp, the pace fast, the production values great and the cast clicks together beautifully.
Vag was created by Leila Cohan-Miccio and Caitlin Tegart, who wanted to create a project for this group of actors after working with them on a stage show at the New York Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) theater. “I’ve been reading feminist magazines for years now, and with all these real issues happening in the world, Bust has an article about finding sustainable yarn to knit a penis cozy for your boyfriend,” Cohan-Miccio said via phone. “Some of the nicest write-ups we’ve gotten have been from feminist magazines like Bitch and Ms. — no word yet from Bust, but we remain hopeful.”
“It’s a loving critique,” Tegart said. “We do like the culture of feminism, but [Vag] is identifying elements that we find silly or ridiculous.”
The choice to do six episodes was in part creative, due to the arc of the show, but also financial. The first season cost approximately $1500, according to Cohan-Miccio and Tegart, after they pulled in a number of favors, with even paid crew working at “insane discounts.”
Most of that crew came from the UCB community, which Tegart and Cohan-Miccio are both active in as performers and teachers at the school. While the school’s move towards supporting online content is just starting, “it’s rapidly growing as a place where you can find directors and editors and lighting,” Tegart said.
Cohan-Miccio and Tegart are both open to doing a season two, and given that every time an episode has ended, I’ve been disappointed that there’s not more, this is something I support strongly — as both a critic of web video, and as a woman.
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