Aussie Teen Drama To Bring LGBTI Characters To The Foreground

03/02/2016 10:20 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Subject To Change

High school is a complex time. As a teenager, you're dealing with raging hormones, a changing body, academic pressure and, in the midst of it all, figuring out who you are as a person.

It's enough to have on your plate as it is. Imagine then, the added pressure of figuring out your sexuality

Video by Tom Compagnoni

High school is a complex time. As a teenager, you're dealing with raging hormones, a changing body, academic pressure and, in the midst of it all, figuring out who you are as a person.

It's enough to have on your plate as it is. Imagine then, the added pressure of figuring out your sexuality.

This is an experience common to many Australian adolescents growing up, yet is grossly underrepresented on a medium so many teenagers turn to for support -- television.

In other words -- where are the LGBTI characters on Australian TV?

It's a question Daniel Mercieca, the creator, director and producer of new series 'Subject to Change' asked himself again and again during his high school years.

"Growing up, you sort of want to find a place you can see characters or watch characters you can relate to," Mercieca told The Huffington Post Australia.

"I think having a show you can really refer back to is a really good thing, and there wasn't really anything like that at the time, for me."

So Mercieca decided to take the matter into his own hands, creating a teen drama which didn't relegate LGBTI characters to supporting roles, but put them right in the spotlight.

A wildly successful crowdfunding campaign (the team exceeded their target of AUD$15,500 by a further 75 percent) confirmed to Mercieca his suspicions were right -- not only was there an audience out there open to such a series, it was hungry for it.

"We've evolved a lot in what we want to see in TV now, and pushed the boundaries in the way that could be a little bit controversial, or a little bit different," Mercieca said.

"People just really wanted to see something where they could feel like they were watching themselves, and I think that's what really drove people to pull behind it."

'Subject to Change' follows a trio of best friends: neat-freak Ben, tomboy Karly and drama queen Evie. Not all are homosexual, but some are, and the pilot shows them each facing their own set of issues -- Ben meeting up with his online crush, Evie worrying that her breasts are too small, and Karly having to face she might not be able to play in the soccer finals after all.

Unsurprisingly, given the success of the crowdfunding campaign, the response to the trailer has been overwhelmingly positive, with close to 80,000 views in a period of three weeks. The reaction on social media has also been significant.

"As a performer, we're kind of in the spotlight more, so we have people from Instagram and Facebook and Twitter connecting to you and saying, 'I'm gay and this is helping me... I feel like I connect with you'," cast member Maryann Wright told HuffPost Australia.

"They really form a relationship with you, and quite quickly."

Currently, 'Subject to Change' is hoping to make the transition from online to television, with an entire season written and waiting to go into production.

"None of us are supermodels," Wright noted. "None of us are superstars. It's just about [providing a show where people can say], 'I turn on the television or switch on the internet, and there is someone who looks just like me, speaking words that I speak, and having relationships that I have or want to have'."

Check out our full HuffPost Play interview with Mercieca and Wright above.

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