'Dyke Central' now streaming
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In "Dyke Central," Florencia Manovil's independently produced, serialized web series, three lesbians share a sun-drenched house in Oakland. The series follows them on their search for love and friendship with the community around them. "Dyke Central," now streaming at Amazon Prime, was shot in Oakland and features a diverse cast. Actors are African American, Latina, Asian, white, cisgender and transgender.
"Having main characters of diverse ethnicities and gender expressions was actually one of the motivating forces in the creation of 'Dyke Central,'" Manovil told the B.A.R. "Most people in our queer community in the Bay, and many other parts of the country and the world, don't see any TV characters that actually reflect who they are. Especially not back when 'Dyke Central' was conceived."
Manovil feels that this is because the people who make the decisions at TV networks are not from marginalized or underrepresented communities. "So you have to look to indie content for that diversity of representation," she said. "Thankfully, though, that's starting to change. Mainstream entertainment is beginning to understand that diversity doesn't mean tacking on a gay or person-of-color friend to a cast of straight white people."
People of color are front-and-center in "Dyke Central." With good humor, the series follows their day-to-day lives as they try to navigate their relationships. Tai Rockett and Comika Hartford are a delight as Alex and Jackie, a somewhat dysfunctional lesbian couple. Further complications arise when the house's new roommate turns out to have a "past" with another roommate.
"Dyke Central" raises serious questions. In the second episode one woman takes offense to the casual usage of the word "dyke" among the other characters. She feels the word is a derogatory slur.
"I know that viewers of past generations and/or who live in other parts of the country feel that way," Manovil said of her own usage of the word. "That's why I wanted to make that episode: to have that conversation out in the open. I completely respect people's own feelings about and relationship to the word. I hope they can also respect and understand that this particular community and these characters feel ownership and pride around the word. To them, it's a descriptor without negative connotations.
"I don't have a fixed agenda when I create artistic work," Manovil said. "It stems more from a need to express. Different people will relate to different parts of it: characters, relationship dynamics, themes. My goal is simply to offer, as best I can, an authentic representation of a slice of queer life in Oakland at a particular moment in time."
Produced on a low budget, "Dyke Central" is a labor of love. "Roughly, the budget was $7,500 per episode," Manovil said. "Although we did crowdfund a small amount back when we were shooting, got a couple very generous gifts, and also received the Frameline Completion Fund, the bulk of Season 1 was financed through personal loans that I'm still paying off."
So far there's no word on whether or not there will be a second season, but if there is, viewers might notice some changes. "Things have shifted in some very noticeable ways in the Bay over the last few years, and those characters and our community are definitely affected by it," said the auteur. "If I ever get to make a second season, that would be present. The housing crisis, rapid gentrification and how it affects different communities and characters. The desire always being to offer an authentic representation that many can relate to."
10 episodes of "Dyke Central" are now streaming on Amazon Prime.