Mia Lidofsky has an impressive roster of mentors for having just helmed her first episodic series: After interning for Nicole Holofcener and John Cameron Mitchell early in her career, Lidofsky assisted Jesse Peretz on shows such as “New Girl,” “Nurse Jackie,” and two seasons of “Girls.” “Working for [Peretz] was my film school,” Lidofsky said of her de facto mentor, who is an executive producer on her “Strangers.” The seven-episode series follows a young woman living in Los Angeles who rents out her extra room on Airbnb. She finds herself in need of extra cash after boyfriend moves out when she cheats on him with a woman. As Isobel (Zoe Chao) struggles to make sense of her shifting sexuality, an eccentric cast of characters rotate through her house, bringing both inconveniences and unexpected wisdom.
“Airbnb became the perfect vehicle me to explore and to tell stories of people in their most vulnerable, chaotic, transient states,” Lidofsky said. “The myriad of interactions between Isobel and her renters comprise a world that captures the intricacies of human connection. It’s a window into the possible relationships and lives in a city that we might imagine existing but don’t always have access to.”
Among Zoe’s renters are a newlywed couple who proposition Zoe for a threesome; a white guy from Silicon Valley who picks her brain for his screenplay; a queer minister whose post-gender dinner party interrupts her date; and a stoner therapist who does a lot of free emotional labor.
Rather than the typical straight-turns-gay, Zoe continues a flirtation with a male barista as well as exploring her first same sex relationship narrative. Though Lidofsky is gay, she felt compelled to depict bisexuality as its own identity. “Bisexuality is one of the last sexual frontiers that television has yet to explore in a real way,” she said. “It’s so often written off as an indecisive or dangerous identity, one that is merely a stop on the way to gay, or a detour on the path of being straight- a phase of sorts.”
Lidofsky is not afraid to call “Strangers” a queer series, though the series grapples with general themes surrounding friendship, adulthood, and identity. “I’m a gay woman, and I wanted to create a story that represented my community and my understanding of sexuality, identity, love and human connection. I wanted to create a show that opened up the dialogue around sexuality in what I hope is an honest and genuine way,” she said.
“Strangers” premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. It was co-produced by Refinery29 and Beachside Productions. The first five episodes of “Strangers” are currently available on Facebook’s Watch, the social media giant’s brand new streaming service, with new episodes airing every Monday.
Below, enjoy an exclusive clip from the yet-to-be-aired final episode, starring Jemima Kirke as a woman searching for her birth mother: