Chatting with Lisa Ebersole, Creator/Star, 37 PROBLEMS: A NEW COMEDY SERIES ABOUT FERTILITY AND GROWING UP by Robin Gorman Newman
What was the motivation for creating your web series? A couple years ago, two of my friends froze their eggs. One had a very successful experience and the other found out she was nearly infertile. I was in grad school at the time and babies were not on my radar, but I suddenly wondered if I should be maxing out my credit cards to freeze eggs? Did I want to be a Mom? Was it something I wanted badly enough to take steps to try and make it happen? Could I have a baby on my own? I always thought I’d want kids, “some day,” but some day was/is now.
What is it about? Amanda (played by me) is a struggling 37 year-old screenwriter who’s all about her career, finds out she has one egg left. Suddenly she has to get a guy to fertilize the egg, freeze the egg, or do nothing and live a different life than she imagined. (It’s a comedy, we promise.) 37 Problems is a series about fertility, ambivalence around motherhood, career, and what it’s like to be a single woman in a world where biology still has its clock on you when you desperately wish it didn’t. It’s also a series about what it takes to be happy. Viewers watch as Amanda looks for happiness in work, friends, love, relationships, and the idea of a baby. She’s searching for completion, and the series challenges her to find it.
Would you consider freezing your own eggs? I’ve thought about it and so far have not done it. And time is running out. I think if my insurance paid for it, I would certainly have done it by now. But I haven’t made it a priority. I spent my money on making a web series that deals with freezing eggs rather than freezing eggs. Building my career has been my focus, but the question of motherhood is certainly on my mind. My single friends and I talk about it all the time. We’re all in this position we never expected where our lives are full without kids, but we wonder how we’ll feel ten years from now?
The character has one egg left….but she actually could take fertility drugs to generate more. Is that something she’d consider? It’s something she does consider and something she’s planning on doing in the series, but then she feels manipulated by the fertility doctor and her pendulum swings back towards career as her immediate focus.
How close are you personally to the central character? Do you feel your own clock ticking? I like to say she’s me plus 20% more neuroses. So she’s certainly a version of me. And, yes, I do feel my clock ticking. I get emotional about it sometimes, feeling like I should be doing more to become a Mom, and then other times I feel like whatever is meant to happen will happen.
Would you consider single motherhood? I would consider it and that question is what Season Two of 37 PROBLEMS will explore. How do you become a single mom on the Obamacare Silver Plan? Is it possible to “have it all” without a ton of money? What are the options for single motherhood?
Would you continue your work if you were to become a mom? Yes. I’m sure that motherhood would give me an endless supply of new things to write about and a fresh perspective on my life.
What is the take away you hope viewers will have from the series? I hope people will see a woman who’s genuinely struggling with whether she wants to be a Mom and what it will mean for her career if she makes that choice. Can she do both? Does she want to? What are the pressures that face women today as they navigate the fact that biology has not caught up with society?
Does making the series make you more or less anxious about becoming a mom one day? It’s made me more anxious about time, but less anxious about my choices. I felt like I was doing the right thing exploring these questions through art. And at the end of Season One, much like my character, I still feel like I do want to be a Mom some day. I just don’t know what that looks like yet. It might mean adoption or stepchildren or having a biological baby in my 40s.
What do you view as the pros and challenges to becoming a mom over age 35? I think you know yourself a lot better after 35. I’ve lived a life already and have a clear understanding of who I am in the world. I know how to take care of people better than I did as a younger woman. As to the challenges, there are certainly more fertility problems to deal with after 35, I hear you’re more tired than a younger Mom, and you may not have as long with your kids as someone who has a baby younger.
Have you parents seen the series, and what do they think? My Dad unfortunately passed away, so he has not seen it. My Mom loves it and thinks it’s an honest portrayal of what it’s like to be a single woman in her late 30s today. My brother wishes I were not naked in it.
If you were to become a mom, what from your own upbringing would you most want to share with your child? The closeness we shared as a family. We were all up in each other’s business all the time, which could be maddening, but was also sort of great. I really got to know my parents and my brother and form extremely close relationships with all of them.
ABOUT CREATOR LISA EBERSOLE: An award-winning playwright and filmmaker, Lisa’s plays have been produced Off-Broadway and regionally. They include: BABY (Best of The Fringe Festival) MOTHER (starring Buck Henry and Holland Taylor) BROTHER (published by Samuel French) PEOPLE DIE THAT WAY (Editor’s Choice Time Out New York & Backstage.) Her films include the feature adaptation of BROTHER (Tribeca Cinemas) the short film PUDDIN’ (Palm Springs Film Festival) and the web series 37 PROBLEMS (Austin Film Festival, Brooklyn Web Fest, Hollyweb Festival.)