Monday, July 1, 2019

Cuddle: The Series - Web Series Spotlight

The Web Series: Cuddle

The Director: John Helde

The Cast: Hope Shanthi, David S. Klein, Patricia Haines-Ainsworth, Ryan Sanders, Treavor Boykin, Kiki Abba, Larissa Schmitz, Isis Phoenix,

The Story: A quirky, young cuddle therapist sets out to change the world with the power of touch - but the hardest person to hug might just be herself.

The Review:
I have a lot of friends who love binge watching short form web series and TV shows and this locally produced comedy series should be on everyone's radar. Yes, cuddle therapy is a real thing (look it up, you'll see lots of results!) and, based on this series, the topic provides plenty of opportunity for some genuinely funny moments and interactions. The comedy comes from the relatability of the characters and how relevant the topic is within our culture and daily lives and the creators make a point not to poke fun at the profession since it is a real thing that helps people every day.

Series creator and writer Adeline Colangelo absolutely gets it right when it comes to how our culture has made just about any sort of touch a taboo thing which, when paired with the rise of social media and electronic devices, has left people lot and literally out of touch with each other. There's an authenticity in the writing that comes across on screen and is carried over by director John Helde's skills behind the camera and his ability to get just the right performance from the cast.

Speaking of the cast, lead actress Hope Shanthi has the perfect personality to take on a role like this and what she creates is a character that is ambitious, flawed, optimistic, a little misguided, and very much well intended. Behind her character's quirky and fun exterior, there is a depth and inner struggle that you see play out through facial expressions, postures, and whatever is going on behind those eyes. The series isn't afraid to look mental health square in the face and Hope tackles all of it beautifully with just the right amount of humor sprinkled in.

Cuddle: The Series is available to stream right now:

Take an in depth look at how the series was made via the Podcast.

This episode features the debut of the "InnerViews" segment of the podcast which includes my interview with director John Helde, producer Constanze Villines, and lead actress Hope Shanthi. The team was more than happy to discuss the inner workings and creative processes that went into developing and filming the web series right here in Seattle.

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