Back in February, we came across the trailer for Bros, a parody web series of Girls that swaps Hannah and her surrogate sisters for a pack of post-grad bros living in Manhattan. The trailer offered a peek at the many shenanigans of the show’s first episode, “Williamsburg,” released earlier this month. Bad pick-up lines abound in the pilot, in which the four bros practice chatting up girls in Bedford Avenue bars (one interrupts an OKCupid date and another gets his package checked out by a guy in the bathroom line). All the while, there’s plenty of PBR-swigging, video games, sequins, and LCD Soundsystem amid a healthy smattering of dick jokes.
In the two weeks since its raucously funny pilot dropped online, Bros has garnered substantial attention, with over 40,000 views on YouTube and a sizable following of fans eager to see more of the show – some of whom have even promised they’d contribute to a crowdfunding campaign to make that happen. There’s no Kickstarter page yet — Bros writer, director, and executive producer Anthony DiMieri poured his personal funds into the making of the pilot — but with a generous pay advance from an unnamed sponsor, he and producers Jason Ano, Mike Berlucchi, Joseph Lombardi, and Lilah Wilson are gearing up for more episodes in the hope of turning Bros from a pithy one-off spoof into a viable television series. DiMieri is even taking a “hiatus” (he’s apparently already got the industry lingo down) from his day job in advertising and journalism to focus his energy on Bros.
Ahead of Sunday’s official premiere screening of the show’s pilot at New York’s No Fun Film Club – a low-key but full-house affair on Ludlow Street with a crowd of casually dressed creative types, crew and cast members, fans, friends and family, and a few bros wearing their baseball caps backwards – I spoke to DiMieri about the task of parodying Girls and the future of Bros.
One of the first things DiMieri was keen to tell me is that while Bros may be a parody of sorts, it is not the anti-Girls. “I’m definitely a fan of Girls,” he said, adding with a tinge of pride that he watched the first season “in under 72 hours.” DiMieri is instantly likeable, confident but not cocky. “Really, Girls was a wake up call for me,” he said. “I’m 25. Lena Dunham is only a year and change older than me.”
But Bros isn’t his first project of this kind. In 2010, DiMieri started writing a sitcom about 20-somethings dating, working, and partying in New York inspired by another HBO series, Bored to Death – “think Girls, but a bit goofier and following three guys and a girl,” he explained. Though the pilot for that show has been sitting unopened on his laptop for three years, DiMieri has accumulated numerous pages of material since. Watching Girls was “the thing that kicked my ass to make me start doing something,” he said.
DiMieri says that he is enamored of Girls‘ realism. Having previously lived in Williamsburg, he identifies with the world the show purports to represent, and is well aware of its cultural currency. Girls has “really struck a vein with our generation – or at least a particular subset of it,” he said. “There are so many girls I run into who excitedly watch each episode and say, ‘This is my life!’…I’m probably one of the few guys in this city who can honestly say the same thing.”
Contrary to some critics’ complaints about the credibility of the male characters on Girls, DiMieri said he believes that, like all the characters on Girls, the guys are represented truthfully as flawed characters: “The male characters… are pretty darn accurate, albeit for a very niche demographic in our society.” Bros doesn’t offer a critique of the veracity of the male characters in Girls, but rather represents a somewhat different milieu; as DiMieri aptly noted, the girls – or guys – of Girls simply wouldn’t hang out with his show’s bros.
“[T]here’s another very particular demographic – also white, relatively privileged – that, while living in the same city, has almost no place in the Girls universe whatsoever,” he explains. Of course, DiMieri’s speaking of the bro, or what he refers to more specifically as the “broster,” a hybrid hipster/bro. When he cast Bros, DiMieri described the characters as “fratty, douchey assholes,” and yet he’s quick to point out that “bros aren’t villains,” but rather “complicated creatures.”
Though DiMieri told me that the friends he grew up with “definitely weren’t like bros” – “they were like punk rock kids and stoners and we’d drive around and listen to the Postal Service,” he said – he initially struck me as a kind of nicer veteran bro, with fond reminiscences of his undergrad days at Fordham and tales involving keg stands and meeting Skrillex. But for DiMieri, bro-hood goes beyond its primitive frolics; there’s a “certain camaraderie, ritualism” inherent to bro culture, an “affinity for hilarious, drunken antics that… often turns groups of young men into artificial families” – which is precisely the setup for Bros, whose characters are based on the people DiMieri went to college with, albeit flagrantly exaggerated. Essentially, it’s that “something, whatever you call bonding,” he said, that is so crucial to the bros (and also the quartet on Girls) since “in a real tightknit group of friends, people find their identity.”
Of all the male characters on Girls, DiMieri said that he could most relate to Charlie for this reason, especially to “Season 2 Charlie, going through a transition of self-discovery and… how he came into his own.” (Coincidentally, on the day of our meeting, Christopher Abbott announced that he was leaving the show – when I asked him about this news, DiMieri quipped that his friends had already approached him to suggest, “Hey man, he should be on Bros!”) It’s journeys like Charlie’s that he hopes to depict in Bros, intended to be a coming-of-age story that follows the bros “from boys to men.”
While DiMieri readily admitted that the “first episode was rather basic – we chose cultural archetypes that are pretty much idiot-proof,” he added that the intention is to start simple “and then from there get deeper.” Of course, gender plays a significant part. “The bro lens gives us a way to address the same issues Girls takes on (or avoids) – race, gender, class, sexuality – but from a rather hilarious vantage point,” DiMieri explained. And, as producer Joseph Lombardi pointed out, since none of the characters are aspiring writers like Hannah, by breaking with “the troubled, creative type in New York,” the bros aren’t “chasing big dreams of fame or cultural cachet, and they don’t pretend otherwise. It’s a worldview that is in some ways more honest.” In this way, Bros doesn’t seek to methodically satirize the original; it’s not a direct parody, but rather takes from where Girls leaves off, addressing similar questions in a different context.
Bros may have opened in a similar way, at least narratively, to Girls – with the Hannah of the group cut off by his parents – but it’s going somewhere else, and it has something unique to say. DiMieri has plenty of material to draw on and a lot of pertinent questions to ask – “Why do these guys act like this? What are their relationships like with their parents?…What are you compensating for with how many girls you’re bringing home?” – about the cornerstones of bro culture.
Ultimately, he hopes that “Bros could be a possible parallel series [to Girls], existing in the same young, harsh, chaotic, yet somehow still attractive New York City universe,” but he describes the chances of Bros reaching Girls-level fame in terms a broster might use: “kind of like Luke Skywalker shooting a proton torpedo into that tiny vent on the Death Star.” Still, with all the positive attention the show has generated after only one episode, and another slated to premiere within the next month, there’s a genuine possibility that Bros could step out of Lena Dunham’s shadow and become a distinct, successful series. After all, didn’t Skywalker destroy that Death Star?
Top image: Anthony DiMieri (left) in conversation at the premiere screening of Bros at the No Fun Film Club in New York. Photo credit: Jason Ano.