“Falling Down Made Me A Boss”: HBO’s Prathi Srinivasan on Her New Pilot, “Wasted”
Funny fact about me: I have had to stitch up scars on my face on five separate occasions.
And not itty-bitty stitches; I mean big gaping wounds on my chin and forehead that bled like fire hydrants and exposed swaths of my skull. My scars are a weird quirk of mine that I have always liked about myself.
I have never seen a face with scars on TV. Certainly not on a female, certainly not on a non-white female, and certainly not on a complex female lead.
I’m about to change that.
I’m walking along the path set by Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Lena Dunham. I’m determined to be the future and I want to write and star in the real American coming of age story — the story that I lived.
I came of age in college. Before that, I was a sheltered softie, completely shielded from the world by my parents who were loving, yet strict. I had never even seen people drink, much less made my own decisions with no supervision and every vice known to woman just waiting to be sampled.
So yeah, I went a little crazy…in more ways than one. I had the questionable fortune of going crazy at parties, but also experiencing college depression, which is very common but also something nobody ever talks about. Nobody ever talks about the realities of college — of falling in love for the first time while slurping down Cup-A-Soup while on a mad dash to a lecture hall of about 300 people.
I pull so much inspiration from these four torrid years because they were the complete opposite of what I expected. I thought college would be the best four years of my life, where I would find my career path and best friends. Years of studying would all be worth it.
It ended up feeling like four years of existential crisis, topped off with the constant reminder that I would leave this so-called “temple of learning” with more debt than I’d be able to handle. College is where I made my greatest mistakes and had my greatest victories. College, the real college, with its shitty dorms and endless keggers, is a world that almost everybody knows. But it’s never represented correctly. Many a show have tried, but it is always so…sanitary.
I need to see real girls on TV. The ones that are messy and complex. I just don’t see the diverse women I see in real life represented on television; the non-white, the sexually fluid, the ones coming of age.
My entire life I have been told that my career wasn’t going to happen. Everybody and their mother told me this with all their best intentions. Well, forget those people, because I’ve been working steadily in TV writing for three years, and I am rounding out a fourth. I’m throwing my middle finger up to expectations of what a female-led story could/should look like. I’m opening up the possibilities of what a group of ladies kicking ass can look like. I want to change the story on what failure looks like. Growing up, I needed to see what it could look like for a girl to fall down and pick herself back up again.
Because even though I’m making moves in my career…this is personal.
For all the times I made stupid, regrettable mistakes in college, I found a way to lick my wounds and get back up again. When I moved back home to take a mental health break because I stopped being able to sleep or eat and lost 15 pounds; when I changed my major yet again because I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted out of life; when I thought seriously about just giving up, those were not failures. Those were just little falls. I just didn’t know it at the time. I know there is tremendous heartbreak to be had when you don’t know what success can look like for you.
I’m an immigrant, I don’t even remotely pass as white, and I needed to know that I could be successful even when I fell. I don’t ever want another person to feel as alone as I did. When I finally yanked myself up by the bootstraps, I got stories out of it. The world deserves stories of women falling down and getting back up again. I have needed to see that my entire life. With my new TV show, Wasted, I get to see myself as a hero. You do too.
Wasted is a half-hour pilot about three freshman girls who believe their roommate committed suicide…only, she was murdered. It features diverse LGBT female leads. And I’m the main character, written by me.
When we released the Kickstarter, I had no idea how big this project would become. We hit our crowdfunding goal in under seven hours. Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars and iZombie, donated. We’ve received countless tweets and emails from people excited to see characters that Hollywood usually makes the sidekicks as the leads.
Now, we’re pushing forward with a stretch goal so that we can financially afford good cameras and real locations. We’re taking this story and we’re doing it the right way.
The world is full of hiring and firing. It is full of longing to be wanted, or chosen. The radical choice to say YES to yourself shouldn’t have to be so radical. I’m taking my life into my own hands, my story into my own hands — quite literally. I’m taking my voice into my own hands.
I’m taking Wasted as an opportunity to show the world that every time a girl falls down, she doesn’t need to be rescued. She’ll get back up. Every scar on her face is not a disfigurement — it’s a badge of honor. I want girls and boys and all the people in the middle to see this show and feel their voices grow.
Don’t be silent. Be a BOSS. There’s only one of you. Make it count.
Find out more about “Wasted” and donate to the Kickstarter here: