TV show : What Brings you in, Episode 5: Dark Side
Director : Hardy Awadjie
Tell us something more about the story , would you like to share with us some stories while you were shooting for the episode?
What Brings You In? Follows the life and clients of Dr. Park. For this particular episode,we introduce Lliam, Dr. Park’s subconscious. We all have demons inside us including the very therapists and psychologists we see and so we wanted to convey the inner dialogue that a therapist might have with themselves, or their subconscious, which happens to be a balding jewish man.
Episode 5 came quite delayed from when we shot episode 4 due to Covid, but we were committing to making it work by constructing the Cory/Kara scene to be outside and to keep Lliam sort of at distance when filming with Dr. Park. The end result, being episode 5.
Were you inspired by a specific or several other movies or series?
For the series, I was inspired by the countless therapist scenes we see in movies which is the standard trope of “how does that make you feel”. We are never introduced to a therapist that’s outside the norm of what you see, and so we wanted to create that. We’ve pulled inspiration from Jane Lynch (Two and a Half Men), Gregory Alan Williams (Old School) and even that very dry and harsh humor of Hugh Laurie (House MD).
For Dark Side, I was having a stressed time on a project and talking with a friend, she encouraged me to write down all the issues that were bothering me and then look back at the end of that project and see how many of those issues were still problems, or if I even remembered them. And that is what prompted a lot of the dialogue within the episode.
‘Nothing Matters’. How did you want to see this line in terms of the episode?
My goal with the episode (and the line) was to illustrate that we’ve become such a 24/7 society that even sleep is a luxury for many. We wake up stressed, we live our life stressed and then we die. And when you look back on your life, are you going to remember the trivial problems that affected you? Of course not. Because it didn’t matter at the time. Sort of a dark expanded approach on the saying, “Don’t cry over spilt milk”.
The inclusion of a line that went something like time is irrelevant. What was the thought behind it?
When Dr. Park first wakes up, he immediately asks “what time is it?”, a common way to get one’s bearings. However, being under the influence forces time to be meaningless. This is to convey that where Dr. Park is mentally at the moment, time is irrelevant. Remember that big night out and realizing the sun was coming up? Where did the time go?
There are two parts in the narrative. The first being the actual story (things that are taking place in a linear pattern). The second part involves the director’s take (if I can put it that way) , a critical commentary on the occurrences by the director himself. Do you agree that there are two distinct parts in the narrative with two very different motives?
Of course. We all create because we have stories to tell, but it’s not to say that we don’t sprinkle our own personality into what we do or how we write. Essentially Dr. Park would be myself in another parallel universe. Moreover, the idea of someone interested in dating a serial killer or a therapist scamming the system isn’t really that far off from our own reality. We talk about this in episode 1 (Social Media) with the men texting out photos of their genitals.
Do you think the potent presence of humour in the TV SHOW must somehow find balance with the classic tropes of a thriller? Do you think the actors find it a little more challenging as they must be both scared and humourous in a particular scene?
You still have your classic tropes, they’re just spun differently. Instead of your standardized therapist “how does that make you feel” trope, we tweak it for the humor and this the same balance that you’ll notice in other episodes. Dark Side was challenging to the actors because we needed the two to open up to each other about work and life but also realize that maybe it’s not the right field that they’re in and to discover why they aren’t happy. We tend to stay married to ideas, visions and projects because we’ve invested so much time and energy into it, and I wanted to show that by acknowledging and accepting when it’s time to cut loose and let go, is important.
The scene where Doctor Park is high has a darker backdrop, slightly translucent. What was the thought behind it?
Originally the idea was to overexpose/saturate and punch the colors up as you would see in a heavenly dream sequence. But it wouldn’t have flown in line with the series and tone, thus we lowered colors/lighting and added more of a foggy style sequence in this weird room/headspace of Dr. Park. The lava lamp really brought the room together.
The trope of the serial killer resisting his own desires appeared dark and funny at the same point of time. The idea of transference was also evident from the fact that he had a liking for Doctor Park’s assistant. How did you want to use the idea to make it more intriguing?
We wanted to explore the way a relationship develops unnaturally. Here, Dr. Park’s assistant, Kara, goes on a date with one of his clients, who happens to be a serial killer, which happens to turn her on even more. Cory treats the date as a chance to show he’s more than a serial killer and can do normal things like everyone else, but Kara is too focused on the idea of him killing people. So it presents this dilemma between the two.
How would you classify the episode? Do you think it is important for one to be careful about the genre of a movie or an episode in a series?
We knew from the beginning we wanted to ensure WBYI stuck to the dark comedy/humor vibe but with real life implications. For us, there has to be a reason for that dark joke or moment so we work extensively with the actors in table reads and rehearsals to see what works and what doesn’t. In particularly Dark Side, Cory and Kara are burying a body, how could we convey this without the usual digging a grave and dumping body? Planting flowers. Flowers fix everything.
The episode makes us laugh yet we are afraid. We don’t know if Doctor Park is the analyst or is he being analysed. These ambiguities make the episode more interesting. Do you agree?
Agreed completely and that’s what makes us laugh yet are still afraid. We have a medically licensed professional that we trust, in it for their own gain. Dr. Park is neutral evil and is evident in Dark Side when he says “nothing matters”. The previous 4 episodes introduced and analyzed Dr. Park’s clients and in episode 5 we finally see Dr. Park analyzed to understand more of his thinking and world. Neutral evil can only exist when there is true neutral (Cory) and neutral good (Kara) but as that neutral evil prevails, he’s able to masterfully realign people’s beliefs (Cory becoming neutral good and Kara becoming true neutral).