Friendship First with Miranda Kent & Danielle Weeks
What if—instead of waiting on the right romantic relationship—two best friends had a baby together? This week we chat with real-life and onscreen best friends Miranda Kent and Danielle Weeks, the creators and costars of a new web series about just that: Baby Love.
We loved hearing about Miranda and Danielle’s creative project, but we gotta admit: it was their incredible relationship that really blew us away. They met when they were fourteen, y’all…and they’ve been BFFs and collaborators ever since.
Our biggest hurdle always is when we get together, we just want to talk. We don’t necessarily go straight to the work. So, a lot of times, we have to set a timer, we have to be really diligent.
—Miranda Kent, Baby Love co-creator and costar
We chat about:
- How to be successful in creative collaborations with a friend (we definitely took notes)
- Why getting through the difficult moments makes a creative partnership (and friendship!) better
- How fertility fears, a very British breakup, and true friendship led to Baby Love
- Our value as women—whether pursuing career, motherhood, both, or…neither
- Aging in Hollywood (and what happens when you decide you won’t just fade away)
- Trans women are women, TERFs are toxic, and why we need to keep unlearning gender binaries
- How we manage being besties who collaborate on projects—like this podcast and our new community—while also running other companies (whew)
- Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a genius, Fleabag is a work of art, and if it’s not clear already: we fucking love women creating, writing, starring, and generally owning shit onscreen
This episode of Strong Feelings is brought to you by:
Harvest, makers of awesome software to help you track your time, manage your projects, and get paid. Go to getharvest.com/strongfeelings to get 50% off your first month.
Sara Wachter-Boettcher Strong Feelings is supported by Harvest—the best tool I’ve ever used for tracking time, payments, projects, and all those pesky work details. See how easy it is to set up invoices, enter timesheets, and so much more at GetHarvest.com/StrongFeelings—and you can get half off your first month. That’s GetHarvest.com/StrongFeelings for 50% off your first month of business bliss. [theme music plays for 11 seconds and then fades out] Hey everyone, I’m Sara!
Katel LeDu And I’m Katel.
SWB And this is Strong Feelings! A podcast about work, friendship, and feminism—and what happens when you bring them all together.
KL Today’s guests are doing just that. They are Miranda Kent and Danielle Weeks—two women who’ve been BFFs since they were fourteen, and have become writing partners and co-creators of a really cool web series called Baby Love. It’s about fertility, it’s about what family means and looks like, and it’s about friendship. And it’s also really funny!
SWB Yes! So, we were going to start the show today talking about creative partnerships because, as you might imagine, that’s really important to us. And we are going to do that, but first we do want to take a moment and address something that’s come up since last week’s show. So, last week we talked with Caroline Criado Perez and we were talking about her book, Invisible Women, where she talks about data bias in a world designed for men. It’s a really interesting conversation and I thought it was really valuable, but then after the show, a friend reached out and let us know that there are some trans folk who have critiqued how Caroline has talked about gender and about trans issues in the past. So, we did a little bit of digging, and a little bit of a soul searching, and we had a good discussion about it that we want to share with all of you. So, we did find some examples of where trans folks have taken Caroline to task for things like questioning the use of the word cis, or for presenting gender in a binary way in situations where that didn’t make sense to them or didn’t work for them. And even though I have found Caroline’s work personally very valuable, very interesting, I also found that really disappointing to hear, and I take that really seriously. So, when I hear from trans folks that they’re upset with the way somebody is depicting gender, I think it’s a really good time to pause and to think. So, we want to do a little bit of that out loud here with all of you because it’s a big concern for us and we hope it’s something that you’ll want to think about as well.
KL Yeah. So, some folks have called her statements trans-exclusionary. And Caroline doesn’t see her work that way and has talked about supporting trans folks, but there’s a larger conversation here that we feel like it’s just a good time to bring up. And that’s about TERFs. So, if you haven’t heard the term before, TERF is an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, and it describes folks who exclude trans women from women’s spaces and from conversations about women’s issues, and generally don’t consider trans women to be women. The TERF view is often that gender identity isn’t a real thing, so they don’t consider trans women to be quote-unquote “real” women and they don’t consider trans men to be quote-unquote “real” men.
SWB One of the things that I’ve also noticed about the kind of TERF subculture of feminism is that it’s not necessarily just saying, “trans women aren’t women,” I’ve also definitely heard this more insidious version of TERFism, which is things that are a little bit subtler. It’s things like, “well, we’re not saying being trans is wrong, being trans is okay, _but_”—and there’s always some kind of but—“_but_ because a trans woman wasn’t socialized as a woman from girlhood, she doesn’t have the experience of being marginalized in the same way a woman does. So, therefore, she’s lacking some quintessential part of the experience.” And while, obviously, being raised as a girl and being raised as a boy are fundamentally different and lead to some different experiences, I think that framing that somehow that means that trans women are missing something is really problematic. Because what it does is it results in treating trans women as lesser types of women and actually I think there’s a reframe there that’s like, “no, actually the experiences of a trans woman who was raised as a boy is, in fact, also a woman’s experience.”
SWB It’s just maybe not as a common of a woman’s experience as a woman who was raised as a girl, but we need to be thinking about that too. And all of those experiences are important to be talking about. But what it ends up being is this kind of subtler anti-trans message that gets out there and gets normalized as if it’s a feminist message, and that’s where we really run into problems. So, that’s something that we’re really taking to heart that we are not okay with.
KL Uhh yes. So, I just want to pause and say a couple of things clearly. We do not condone or accept trans-exclusion, and we absolutely affirm the identities, rights, and experience of trans people. And again, this is why we want to have these conversations.
SWB Yes. And so, as we’ve been talking about this, something that has come up for me is thinking really carefully about what my and what our responsibility is here. We can’t get perfect guests on the show because one, they don’t exist, two, I don’t think anybody could really agree on what that means, and three, we are not perfect. So, that’s not going to happen. But I do want to think about, “well, what do we do when we’re trying to wade through things that are difficult and nuanced?” And I want to get more comfortable addressing those issues head-on like we’re trying to do today and kind of owning, “okay, this is something that we missed that we wished we hadn’t missed and we want to think about why was that.” And then also, when we have guests on, knowing that they’re going to be imperfect and knowing that we’re imperfect, how do we handle the messy conversations that come out of that? And I think that this is something that we’re going to continue working on. Even just having this conversation, Katel, it led to me and you talking about how in that episode when we were talking about abortion, we were definitely framing that as being about women. And, of course, women aren’t the only people who get and need abortion care.
KL Right. Trans men and nonbinary people get abortions too. And after we recorded—while we were in production—I kept thinking a lot about that. It’s not not on our minds. I think we just, like you said, really want to think about how we have these conversations and talk about it.
SWB Right. Like we know and we talk about the fact that it’s not only women who get an need abortions, but it’s also important to talk about it as a women’s issue. Legislation that’s banning abortion is absolutely about controlling women and the vast majority of people who get abortions are women, so the bans really disproportionately affect women. And so it’s useful to talk about things like people who get pregnant. I think that’s useful—
SWB —and not just women. But I also think it’s necessary to talk about it as a women’s health issue and not to erase women’s health from the conversation about abortion or about anything else. Because women’s health is a real thing, it’s routinely not talked about, it’s routinely underserved, and women are harmed for it.
SWB And so I don’t have any simple, elegant, inclusive, answer to any of this. I guess I’m really grateful to the people who are in my life who have helped me learn more and grow around all of this stuff and I feel good about getting to a place where I am willing to work through some of this nuance out loud and in public. I hope that just hearing us talk through some of the small details here is helpful to someone else.
KL Yeah, me too. Okay, so on that note, can we talk about how great it is to have a partnership where you and I work through and grow together? Because that is something I was thinking a lot about when we talked to today’s guests.
SWB Yeah, me too! We’ve been working so closely together for a while now and it’s been…pretty good for me. [KL laughs]
KL Me too! [laughs]
SWB You’re not going to be like, “I give it a C+, D-?”
KL [laughing] Do our rating system again?
SWB You know, I’ve worked with friends in different contexts—and a lot of them really good—but definitely not quite in this way where we’re really partners in this show and now partners in our new Collective Strength community that’s starting up. And that’s just so huge and so different from anything I’ve experienced.
KL I know, me too. I’ve definitely started little projects here and there with friends in the past, but nothing like what we’re doing, and it’s so exciting to me. So, okay. I realize that we spending a ton of time together and I feel like that’s a constant realization. But also, lately it feels like we’re doing so much together for the show or workshops together and the community, that’s it’s been hard to find the time to check in and see how we…are.
SWB Right, I know. You know I feel Iike I’ve been running around all spring, pretty booked up. And in the middle of that, I was reading this article the other day on Shondaland—it’s about this new book “Work Wife” by the cofounders of Of A Kind, the online shopping site. And they’re best friends and also business partners, and they talk about how do they stay in touch emotionally. And so, they have a policy of never letting problems fester. So, they do this weekly check in that’s literally just for airing grievances with each other. [both laugh]
KL [laughing] Oh my god, are we going to add an airing-of-grievances agenda item to our meetings? What does that even look like?
SWB I guess I feel like I don’t have that many grievances with you…
KL No, yeah!
SWB But I like the idea of there being a placeholder for it—
SWB —because I feel like not letting stuff fester is important, and I’ve definitely seen what happens when things fester, you know?
KL Definitely. Yes.
SWB Okay. So, the other thing they do is they check in at the end of every session by asking each other, “how are you feeling about everything?”
SWB And they say that that’s led to some tough conversations. And, you know, I was thinking about that and I was like, “you know, we do that a lot actually.”
SWB And it’s not always set up in the agenda necessarily, but I guess you are really good about asking me how I’m doing and how I’m feeling. In a real way! Not just a, “oh, how are you doing?” But in a real way that elicits a real answer from me. And I feel like I’ve maybe even picked up some of that from you, so I thank you for that.
KL Aww, I’m just sitting over here gushing; I love hearing that. And I do too. I honestly don’t think we’d like working together as much as we do if we didn’t have the communication part down. I feel like that’s been from the beginning. And, I mean, we’re on the same page about a lot, but we are also pretty different people in a bunch of ways! [laughs] So, of course, there are going to be times we need to check in because maybe we’re not on the same frequency about something. And actually, last week you made this incredible observation that because we’re together so much, when one of us is stressed out or overwhelmed or worried or happy or excited, it’s impossible for that to not rub off on the other person or be absorbed by the other person. And I think paying attention to stuff like that makes working together easy and a very joyful thing.
SWB Yeah. And even though we didn’t meet when we were fourteen years old [KL laughs] like our guests did—if only—I do hope we get to work together for decades like they have.
KL Me too. Well, I think we should listen to Miranda and Danielle because they probably have a lot to teach us. [short transition music plays]
Promo: Graywolf Press
SWB Hey, everyone, it’s time to talk about books again—one of our favorite subjects. And that’s thanks to our friends at Harvest. They are proud supporters of Graywolf Press, which is a non-profit publisher dedicated to bringing new voices and perspectives to the world, which is one of our favorite things too. So, today, we have Graywolf’s Yana Makuwa back to give us a sneak peek at what is coming up and what will be new this summer. Hey, Yana!
Yana Makuwa Hey, Sara, how’s it going?
SWB Pretty good, but I am always looking for new reads. So, last time you were here, you told us about Tracy K. Smith’s poetry collection, Wade in the Water. What do you have for us today?
YM Today, I am really thrilled to talk to you about the paperback edition of A Lucky Man. This is a really fantastic story collection. It was final-listed for The National Book Award back in 2018 and I really am thrilled to have a chance to talk about it!
SWB Can you tell us a little bit about what A Lucky Man is about?
YM This is a short story collection where the author, Jamel Brinkley, kind of muses in these long, intimate portrayals of young, black boys and young, black men living in America and sort of searching for intimacy, and friendship, and kind of the forces that are pushing against them from all sides in that search.
KL Wow, that sounds so amazing. It feels right up my alley because I really love story collections. Do you have a favorite one or several from the book?
YM Um yeah! So, one of my favorite stories in this collection is called “I Happy Am.” And it’s about a group of kids who go on a field trip to a much more opulent neighborhood than the one that they live in, and one of the boys steals away from his group and essentially breaks and enters into a house in this neighborhood. But instead of it going horribly wrong, he actually ends up befriending the woman who owns the house. It’s a little bit of a strange kind of surreal story, but it ultimately has a really moving ending.
KL Ugh, I really like the sound of that. This is definitely going on my list and I can’t wait. Alright, everyone, check out A Lucky Man at graywolfpress.org or buy it wherever you shop for books. Yana, we love it when you join us for book talk. Thank you so much—and thanks to Harvest for supporting authors and readers everywhere.
YM Yeah! Thank you for having me. [short transition music plays]
Interview: Baby Love
KL Today we’re really excited to be joined by not one, but two creative women—Miranda Kent and Danielle Weeks. They are the writers and co-stars of Baby Love, a new web series that tells the story of the ultimate bestie collaboration, and we can not wait to hear all about it. Miranda and Danielle, welcome to Strong Feelings!
Miranda Kent Thank you!
Danielle Weeks Thank you for having us!
KL So, first up, let’s talk about Baby Love. Miranda, can you tell us about the show? What’s it about?
MK It’s about two best friends who find themselves unlucky in love and fertility, and decide to cut out the middleman and have a baby together!
KL Was there a real-life moment that inspired you to start writing the series or to even start thinking about this story?
MK Ohhhhh yes.
DW Ohh yeah. [laughs & MK laughs]
MK Danielle and I are real life besties, and we’ve known each other since high school, and we’ve seen each other through so many highs and lows in our lives. And at this particular point when we wrote it, neither one of us had a partner and I think just kind of came to this place of, “wow, this isn’t just about hey, am I ever going to meet somebody or have the experience of partnership, marriage, soulmate-ness with somebody, but also, what if we can’t have babies? What if that’s something that we really wanted and because of the old biological clock, was that going to happen?” And I think both of us were really in our own different kinds of ways struggling with that. And we started kind of fantasizing about what would it be like if your soulmate is your best friend? And it just came out, it flowed so naturally really.
DW And we were always writing partners, so we had other projects we were working on at the time, but when this idea came up, it made us laugh. [laughs] Like what would that look like if we had a kid together and gosh, that would be a really fun show to write. We were always looking for something that could capture our friendship, something we could sort of put ourselves into, and it felt like the perfect project for that.
KL So, how does the plot in Baby Love compare to your real-life stories? What are the points of convergence?
MK Well, I actually did have a fiancée who was British, who sort of unceremoniously broke off our engagement—
DW Over the phone.
MK Over the phone, yes. It was quite—
DW Very dramatic.
MK It’s funny now. [laughs]
DW It’s really funny now!
MK [laughing] But it wasn’t funny then!
DW And then I for many years identified as a commitment-phobic person and had a really hard time in relationships letting myself be vulnerable and feeling like I was ready to commit. So, we really used a lot of that as well.
MK We kind of played up in the show the kind of more codependent aspects of my character and the more commitment-phobic aspects of Danielle’s character—
DW Yeah, we sort of turned it up a few notches.
DW And the other thing is, our closest community of friends are mostly lesbian women. [laughs]
MK Yeah. [DW laughs] We’re sort of like the only two non—
DW Yeah, straight women. And these are also high school friends of ours. So, there’s only one scene in the pilot that sort of has some of our friends in it, but in terms of the series, we really want to capture that world as well. The idea of two of our best friends are sort of like Mom and Pop for us.
MK Yeah, we really love—one of the things that we—the example of family, sort of like a put together family. Both of us coming from—
DW Broken homes.
MK —broken homes, if people still say broken homes.
DW Do they still say that anymore?
MK Is that even a thing?
DW It’s probably not! [laughs]
MK But coming from broken homes, [DW laughs] our intact family is a lesbian couple with their kids—
DW That’s our example of an intact family.
DW That’s our example of the most traditional family, in a way.
MK Yeah. We thought there was also something funny about talking to them about having a baby together—
DW [laughing] Yeah.
MK —and what that would bring up for them and what it would bring up for us.
MK We really want that to be a part of the series.
SWB So, the show premiered at South by Southwest in March this year, right? And now you’ve had this larger release just recently here in May. What’s the goal from here? The goal is to turn it into something that is a larger series that gets picked up, or where does it go?
DW We would love to sell this idea and then get money to actually make many, many more episodes of it. We have a first season really fleshed out and we have up until season four or five—we have an idea of where we want it to go. We’d really love to see these women dealing with fertility, and infertility, and trying to figure out how to have a child together and what that looks like. We’ve really seen a lot of friends deal with—
MK I think one of the things we thought would be nice is to kind of normalize it in some way—
DW Mhmm. Mhmm.
MK —or bring also just humor to stuff that women go through—
MK —and not through the lens of—love men—but not through the lens of a male kind of comedy.
DW Yeah. Throughout this process for us, it was really important that there wasn’t a man who came in to sort of help solve things, make things okay or—
MK Sweep them off their feet—
MK —or kind of come in. And really, I think for both of us, the story is a love story between friends.
DW That these women choose this.
DW They choose this.
MK Yeah. They choose each other, they choose this family.
SWB Yeah! I love that. And I love this idea that it’s really centered on women’s lives and women’s stories. And I’m curious, when you were working on this project, you worked with a producer and director, Deena Adar, who couldn’t be here today. But I was thinking a little bit about how your whole core team on Baby Love is made up of women and I’m wondering if that was an intentional choice and if that was different from the kinds of projects you’ve worked on before?
DW Yeah. We’ve been in this business for a couple of decades now and we were commenting during the shoot about how we kept waiting for it to get stressful or to get—there has to be some fire to put out, there has to be some kind of drama. And it was just the most relaxed, wonderful, easy shoot.
MK We were laughing so much, I literally was just like, “this can’t be real! How are we having such a good time?” [DW laughs]
DW And we do attribute a bulk of that to Deena. Deena is an amazing director and she’s also just an incredible producer. She really had us organize down to the last tee, so by the time we were actually in production and shooting, everything had been done and everything was taken care of.
MK And it’s incredible because she really made—I mean, this was a low-budget production.
MK We did this ourselves.
DW Self funded.
MK Self funded. And she really made it look great.
DW And we did consciously want to have a female director, that was important to us.
SWB Yeah. I mean, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how good so many of the projects I have worked on have been when it’s been sort of like a team with a lot of women on it. And some of the challenges that seem to come up over and over again on projects that are being led by men—weird! [DW & MK laugh] And I know it’s not always that way, but I’m always curious if that’s intentional choices people are making and if they feel the difference. And I know that working in the entertainment industry or trying to work in Hollywood is not necessarily known for being easy on women. [laughs] And I’m excited to see more people trying to break the mold there.
DW There was a moment where we thought we just wanted all the casting to be women and Deena pulled us back on that. [laughs] She was like, “mhmmm—
MK “We might need to—
DW “Let’s reflect the world, let’s not cut it out.” [laughs]
MK “We might need to open it up to men.” Although, we thought that would be kind of really interesting, you know?
MK But yeah, it’s really challenging to be a woman. I mean, it’s challenging in all professions, I think, but particularly in Hollywood—
MK —to be a woman and to be aging.
DW Oh gosh, yeah.
MK To be a person of color—all of these… It’s real, you know?
DW Well the idea we’ve talked about before—women are always defined by motherhood whether or not they want to be a mom. [laughs]
DW And this idea that there are women who choose not to have kids and there are women who choose to have kids, but what about the women that choose to have kids but—
DW —but don’t have a partner.
MK Yeah. If you have a career and you have decided not to have a child, that’s one thing. You know?
MK And if you have a child, then you can say I’m a mom and that means something in our society.
DW It’s just, what is our value as women?
MK Yeah, what is our value? Is there intrinsic value in just being a woman and a person without motherhood, without career?
DW And can we be valuable as we age? To our culture? [laughs]
DW I notice as an actress as I get older—I’ve talked to Miranda about this—I have this feeling that it’s time for me to go away. Which I know sounds so sad! It sounds so depressing, but it really is! That’s the feeling. Like, “okay, thanks. We’re done with you now.” [laughs]
MK Okay, I guess that’s it.
DW We don’t need your voice—
MK You ran out of time.
DW —we don’t want your voice. It’s time for you to crawl into a cave and get quiet. [laughs & MK laughs] Or do whatever you do. I don’t know, [laughs] what are you supposed to do?
SWB Yeah, that’s so frustrating! And I’m curious, before working on Baby Love, what were the kinds of things that you were focused on in your careers? What did your trajectory look like that got you to here?
DW Doing a lot of comedy. I was at Groundlings, which is a theater in Los Angeles that’s an improv and sketch comedy theater. And I was performing a lot and writing a lot of my own stuff, and I’ve been doing commercials for the last couple of decades as well—that’s kind of been my bread and butter. And going out on mostly comedy TV stuff. So, I guess I had narrowed it down quite a bit to just the comedy world. Prior to that, I was doing both, but as I got older I found I was more drawn to doing the comedy stuff. And I found that I was much more inspired when I was creating my own material.
MK Yeah. And I think what’s funny just thinking about it—thinking back to when we were in high school [laughs] we had a teacher who— she was a musical theater teacher, but that’s a whole other story.
DW Oh yeah, that’s a whole other episode.
MK She was quite a character, but one of the wonderful things about her was that she really encouraged us to write our own stuff. So, Danielle and I have always been doing these little bits with each other since we were kids. So, my trajectory has sort of been that same vein. I did a lot of drama when I was in New York. I graduated from NYU and did a lot of theater. And then came to Los Angeles and started to do more comedy. I think getting older too, my ambition changed. I felt more connected to doing projects that felt more personal.
KL I love when you were talking about being friends since high school. And I wanted to ask a little bit more about that. You said that you started writing together as kids and I think that’s so cool to think about. I’d love to dig into that relationship a little bit more. When did you first start working together more seriously?
DW & MK Well! [laugh]
DW It’s always been serious!
MK Very serious. When we were kids, there was a really funny sketch on Saturday Night Live. It was the Sweeney Sisters. I don’t know if you remember the Sweeney Sisters? But they were…yeah. And we decided we were going to do our own version called…wait for it…
DW Watch out!
MK It’s pretty exciting. The…
DW Tweeney Sisters! [KL & SWB laugh]
MK [laughing] We wrote a sort of a lounge act, right?
DW We did.
MK Which we performed.
DW We performed it! [laughs & MK laughs] And by the way, I think it was pretty good.
MK It was pretty good.
DW It was pretty good. We had a whole, for example, there was a whole sequence where we sing Dust in the Wind and then at the end, we sneeze! [laughs & MK laughs]
MK So dumb. I was so dumb!
DW [laughing] It was so dumb.
MK It was just so silly, but honestly, we’ve never been able to let go of it.
DW [laughing] No.
MK We still do it.
MK Still drop into those characters.
DW And so, over the years, we’ve written many iterations of Tweeney Sisters. We’ve actually performed them for some friends’ parties and have written a couple of shows to take out and do at small theaters and stuff.
MK Yeah, yeah. They’re two of our favorites. Two favorite ladies—
MK —to bring out.
KL Sara and I talk to a lot of creative folks, and especially when we meet two partners, two women who are working together, but also really good friends or best friends, I think like we’re always navigating our friendship and our work relationship. And we really try and do a good job of making sure we’re nurturing both of those. How does that work for you?
MK We’re just really codependent [DW laughs], so we just don’t think about boundaries at all!
DW No, no, that’s not true. In fact, with Baby Love, our friendship was put under a little…test might be too strong a word, but we really—I was really proud of us actually! I feel like we were able to—
DW Yeah, direct.
MK I think when you’re best friends and close and not used to being in situations where you disagree about things—
MK —or where there’s room for disagreeing. It actually didn’t really happen that much—
DW No, no.
MK —but we really were clear with one another that we would really work on that together.
DW And in terms of taking care of the friendship and the creative relationship, our biggest hurdle always is when we get together, we just want to talk. We don’t necessarily go straight to the work. So, a lot of times, we have to set a timer, we have to be really diligent.
MK To the point where it’s just ridiculous.
DW It’s ridiculous.
MK Three hours goes by and we’re like, “well, we now have fifteen minutes left, [DW laughs] what can we get done in fifteen minutes?”
SWB Oh my gosh, I relate to this so hard. [KL laughs]
KL Yeah! [all laugh]
DW I mean, we figured out our process. Part of our process is to give ourselves that time. We sort of realize we do have to have some time to be able to check in with each other and to get out what we need to get out and connect in those ways. And sometimes we’ve done that before where we’re like, “okay, we’re setting up a writing meeting this week. Let’s set up a play date beforehand.”
DW Or the day before, the two days before, so we can get that out of our system.
MK We can actually talk. We can actually do all the talking and go over all the same things [DW laughs] we’ve gone over for the last twenty-something years, you know? [DW laughs] Like literally we have the same conversations—
MK —but we have to get back into it.
KL And how did you meet Deena and decide to work together?
DW I met Deena at The Groundlings. I had acted in a couple of her projects that she wrote and directed prior to this. And also in The Groundlings, we were really great writing partners; I loved writing with her. And so I saw her about another project—we were talking about another project—but then I mentioned that it would be fun to do something together. So, I sent over a couple of scripts and she loved Baby Love; she really responded to it. And from there, we were off.
bMK In Deena style, she was just like, “okay, let’s do it! Here’s the schedule—
DW “We’re shooting in two months, here we go!”
MK And we’re like, “oh, okay! Oh great!” [laughs]
DW “Oh, oh, oh, okay! Let’s do it!” [laughs]
KL How long did you spend on it? And were you working on this project solely or was it a side project? How did that fit into your lives?
MK The first version that we wrote was maybe about seven years ago. And it was funny because when we came back to it, we were like, “wow, this is really dated.” [laughs]
DW We wrote it for, like, a network.
MK Yeah. We wrote it as more of a network, sitcom-y—so it’s just interesting how you could really feel the difference in how things have changed.
DW It feels like the landscape has changed. Nowadays, it feels like you can kind of curate your audience a little more. You’re not having to write for everyone. [laughs]
DW So, suddenly it felt like, “now we can actually hone in on what we wanted to do originally—the issues we want to focus on originally—
DW —of fertility and aging and sexuality and all of that stuff.” So, coming back to it with Deena, it was really probably a three month period of pre-production. And we took it from a pilot to a web series.
MK I would say that we were, over this last nine months, writing out the series, really getting into what happens down the line. That’s something that took a lot of time.
KL So, now that the web series is live, what’s next for Baby Love?
MK Well, there are so many different paths to take, especially when you’re doing it on your own.
DW We do have producers involved—another company called Retro Fit—and they have come onboard and are helping us shop it right now. So, in the next couple of months, our hope is that we get lots of pitch meetings with studios and networks. And the ultimate hope is that someone will fall in love with it and want to put it on their network or on their streaming service. [laughs]
MK Yeah. The dream would really be to be in it and to write it, but I think there’s part of it that would be okay with having somebody else acting, but definitely writing feels—I think we’re both finding that to be really satisfying.
DW So yeah, I guess that’s the ultimate goal for Baby Love.
MK The ultimate goal is that we sell it and make the series.
SWB Yeah! Well, I’m hoping that we can get some more people excited about it. I want to go back to something that we talked about at the very beginning of the interview, which is the plot of the show and your real stories and how they converge and diverge. And there’s something that I think we didn’t get into yet, which is that since you started writing this show a few years ago, you’ve both actually met partners and had families, right? Do you both have kids now?
DW & MK Yes!
DW We both have a child each.
SWB When you started putting this together, you were both single and childless and really imagining what it would be like to go down this path together. Now you’ve gone down this different path with partners and children, how does the reality of that family life and the balance of being mothers, who are also creating this creative project together, how does that differ from what you were expecting when you were first writing? How does real life look?
MK Motherhood is so different than the fantasy. And I know it’s kind of a cliche at this point, but people talk about what you don’t know about being a mother and what doesn’t get talked about and the challenges along with the beautiful, wonderful, amazingness of motherhood are also all of the other aspects that are challenging. And that’s something that we definitely, in future seasons and episodes, explore.
DW Mhmm, mhmm.
MK This idea of like, oh, what my life is going to look like. Something is going to be so different or fulfilled in some way that it never was and it will all seem—things will make sense. I don’t know, something about that I think.
DW Yeah. And I would say, too, that we’re definitely so involved in each other’s family life.
MK Oh yeah.
DW It really is true it takes a village. [laughs]
MK It really does. You need a village.
DW You really need a village. You need a very large village. Parenting is hard, I just think it’s harder when it’s done in isolation.
DW Much harder. I don’t think we’re meant to do it alone.
MK Yeah, I think there’s definitely an episode in there where these ladies start reading all the parenting books, you know? As a mother as a three-year-old, for which the popular term is threen-ager, you just get to a point where you look at these books and you’re like, “oh my god, this is so overwhelming.” [laughs]
MK “What’s the right way? Is there a right way? Is there a wrong way?” And it is humorous after a while.
DW Oh, absolutely.
MK It’s just mind boggling.
DW Well, you have to laugh at a certain point. There’s no… [laughs what else can you… Looking at your child and you’re like, “well, he might be a sociopath. [MK laughs] He might be, I don’t know.”
MK And that’s when I come in and say, [DW laughs] “no, everything’s fine.” [laughs]
DW “This is normal developmentally.”
MK “Everything’s fine. It’s normal developmentally.” And then I say, “I think my child is a sociopath.” [DW laughs] And then you say, “no.”
DW No. [laughs]
SWB Well, yeah! So, that makes me think about something I wanted to ask you, which is, we have a lot of listeners who are interested in having kids, thinking about when or if or how and what the timing should look like for them, and all of those questions. And I’m curious if there’s anything that you would tell somebody who is kind of in that moment about what to consider and what to think about being right for them?
MK Yeah, I think I felt a lot of shame around it, to be honest. For me, I felt a lot of shame that I’d waited, and shame that I didn’t know more, and I think that kept me for a long time from actually—
DW Where I feel like I was actually the opposite where I was so worried about my fertility [laughs] that I was reading a lot about it and learning FSH levels and sort of knowing all of that. And if you start trying to get pregnant over—I forgot what it…I don’t want to throw in a bunch of facts!
MK I know, I know!
DW “Listen, if you’re over 35…” No! But just certain things about over 40 or whatever, so the idea of like— just going to the doctor, I guess! Just going to the doctor.
MK Yeah. Taking it in your own hands—
DW Yeah, yeah.
MK —and kind of taking a look at things.
SWB Yeah, just go to the doctor! [laughs]
MK Just go to the doctor!
SWB I feel like this idea that a lot of people build up boundaries or shame around that and then don’t take the steps to advocate for themselves.
MK I think that’s definitely true for me. I was very nervous about it and then the first time that I went, oh my gosh it was so overwhelming. That’s another thing for people to know. It’s probably nice to have someone with you—a friend or anybody to take notes—because I walked out of the first… I really just wanted to go in and ask a few questions—
DW I remember that.
MK —and she gave me like five pages of testing that I had to do and all of these different things I needed to consider. And boy, I just walked out of there and was like, “okay, I need to take a breath and I don’t think I’m going to be taking a look at this paperwork for another month or so.” It was just—
MK So, it would have been nice actually to have had somebody with me to kind of process all of that with.
SWB Well, we’re just about out of time, but before we go, I do want to ask for one more piece of advice, and this one is about partnership. It might be a little bit selfish to me and Katel, but I do think that our listeners can relate. So, for people who are friends and who are also having a creative partnership together and trying to build or create something together, what would you tell them? What do you wish you had known when you started?
DW I mean, I would say as much as you can, to take care of the friendship first.
DW And for Miranda and I, that was really important. And the way we did that was we communicated, we checked in with each other, we were honest with each other. And along the way, I feel like we took care of each other in that way.
MK Mhmm. It’s really helped our friendship to grow too—
MK —because it feels like that’s something that’s really great. If you learn that your friendship can withstand conflict or disagreement, it strengthens it so much.
MK It really deepens it, strengthens it.
DW And this goes I guess for every relationship, it’s kind of obvious. But just to communicate, to not hold resentments, to really make sure that those things are getting processed throughout the process.
DW Which, Miranda has a background in therapy, [laughs] which helps!
MK I’m an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist now.
DW That helps us. It gives us some framework.
MK But we’ve also both been in therapy for a lonnnnng time!
DW Oh yes!! A very long time! [laughs]
MK So, tell everyone…go to therapy!
DW Oh yeah, go to therapy! [everyone laughs] Actually, yeah! I mean, honestly, we wouldn’t put it past if you’re having issues in a partnership, going to a therapist together.
MK Yeah, yeah!
DW Why not? We didn’t do that—
MK We didn’t do that.
DW —because we have one in our relationship, [MK laughs] but absolutely, yeah.
MK Yeah, yeah.
KL Thank you so much for joining us. Where can folks hear more about Baby Love?
DW It would be at www.babyloveseries.com.
KL Amazing. Well, thank you so much again.
DW & MK Thank you! [short transition music plays]
Promo: Inflection Point
SWB Hey, everyone, if you like Strong Feelings, you are going to love the podcast we are sharing with you today. It’s called Inflection Point with Lauren Schiller and it’s all about radical women telling honest, powerful stories. This season Lauren is talking with amazing people who are transforming the systems as we know them. Like activists you may have heard of—like Gloria Steinem and Eve Ensler—but also policy makers you maybe haven’t heard of yet—like people fighting for family leave and guaranteed income or entrepreneurs using technology to end sexual harassment. Each episode, you’ll hear a story of how change gets made and come away with new ways of responding to whatever the world throws at you. So, if you want to hear how women rise up and how radicals do things, go to Apple Podcasts. RadioPublic, NPROne, Stitcher, or wherever it is you listen to shows, and subscribe to Inflection Point with Lauren Schiller. [short transition music plays]
Fuck Yeah of The Week
SWB Okay, Katel, we need something to get excited about. It has been a tough week! What have you got for me?
KL Alright. I can not fuck yeah this enough. The second season of Fleabag is out, and I have already binged the entire thing, and I’m sad because I’ve already watched it and I want to watch it again, maybe multiple times.
SWB Ahhhh it is in my queue! I loved the first season of that show! It was so funny and so dirty and weird and subversive.
KL I know! So, okay. If you’ve haven’t seen Fleabag, it’s about a woman in London who literally is just called The Fleabag. [laughs] And she is trying to navigate grief and love, and it’s just super dry and weird. Like she breaks the fourth wall a lot, but it’s in this way where it’s almost like she can’t help herself and I have never seen anything like it. It’s really, really great.
SWB Yeah! I had the same reaction when I watched the first season where I was like, “I have never seen anything like this and I need to keep watching it.”
KL [laughing] Yeah, exactly.
SWB The best way I can describe it is I’m just sucked in by how different it is.
KL Yeah, totally. So, this new season is also wildly funny, but it’s also really beautiful and kind of gut-wrenching in the story. Also, the star—Phoebe Waller-Bridge—also created the whole idea and writes it, which I love.
SWB Yes! I am always excited to see these triple, quadruple threat women out there making it all happened. So, I’ve got my weekend plan set, thank you for that.
KL Yes. I didn’t even know this, but Phoebe also developed and wrote one of my other favorite shows—Killing Eve.
SWB: Wait, what, really?!
KL Yeah, I know!
SWB Oh my god.
KL So, fuck yeah to Phoebe Waller-Bridge and the second season of Fleabag because I’m just really happy she gets to continue doing something she clearly loves.
SWB Fuck yeah! Well, that’s it for us this week! Strong Feelings is recorded in Philadelphia and produced by Steph Colbourn from Edit Audio. Our theme music is “Deprogrammed” by Blowdryer, a band based here in Philly! Check them out at blowdryer.bandcamp.com. Thanks to Miranda Kent and Danielle Weeks from Baby Love being our guest today, and thank you for listening! If you liked our show today, don’t forget to subscribe and rate us wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. And don’t forget to get strong feelings right in your inbox! Get our newsletter at strongfeelings.co. See you next week! [theme music plays for 15 seconds and plays out]