Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Watch: New, Washington County-Shot Comedy Series Hicksters

The series, created by and starring Pittsburgh native and "Man of Steel" actress Christina Wren, premiered in June at the TCL Chinese Theater in Los Angeles.




Photo Courtesy Two Kids and a Camera
 

A quirky wannabe journalist and her hipster woodworker husband inherit a farm in rural America and try to create a trending animal sanctuary. It might sound like the beginning of a joke, but it isn’t — at least not exactly.

Filmed in and around the Steel City, “Hicksters” is Pittsburgh native Christina Wren’s newest comedy project. It follows the adventures of Ruby (Wren) and Alex (Jeremy Walker), a millennial couple from New York whose lives take a turn when they lose their jobs around the same time they inherit Ruby’s late grandfather’s farm. As a interracial couple — Ruby is an Arab-American, and Alex is black — they meet a slew of characters who learn, often through comedic blunders, that they have more in common with their new neighbors than they think.

Wren credits Pittsburgh’s welcoming nature for making the grassroots production work. A friend lent the production team his farm in Scenery Hill, Washington County; his neighbors graciously opened up their shops, homes and hearts to Wren and the cast and crew.

“Pittsburgh is such an integral part of how Hicksters was able to come to be,” Wren says. “A big shout out to the ’Burgh!”

Created by Two Kids and a Camera — the creative team fronted by Wren and her husband, Demetrius — the pilot dropped on June 22 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles as part of the Dances with Films festival. But Wren says the idea came to her a few years back, when she was moving from New York to L.A. and noticed how differently folks from separate parts of the country view each other.

“We were somewhere in the middle of the country when this woman at a rest stop was talking to the cashier about how awful New York City was … and as she seems like she’s about to wrap up, she says, ‘And the only place worse than New York is L.A.!’” Wren says. “I was laughing to myself knowing that people on the coasts have similar feelings about the middle of the country, or the South.”

Wren, who was born to a Middle-Eastern father and a mother from Iowa, grew up on Pittsburgh’s North Side, but spent time in the Midwest, New York and eventually the South, after marrying her Georgia-native husband.

“I love the South, and I love the Midwest. I love the coasts, and I love so many people in each of those places, and also in the Middle East where my dad is from,” Wren says. “I felt like I wanted to tell a story that represented my experience, which was so different from what I see on the news or what I think people who live in more insular communities experience.”

Wren hasn’t seen many characters who she felt accurately represented folks who are different from one another, yet happily live and work together as neighbors and friends.

“That exists all over the place, but for whatever reason, that isn’t the story that’s getting reshared and reshared and reshared on Facebook,” Wren says.

For Wren, it was vital that Hicksters was a comedy.

“I think that laughter really opens up our hearts [to] connect and see the humanity in each other,” she says. “I’ve noticed that most people are pretty well-meaning. They don’t want to say the wrong thing. They don’t want to put their foot in their mouth. They don’t want to be the offensive someone. Everyone wants to be able to get along. It’s just funny at times when you’re not totally sure how, so I wanted to capture that humor as well.”

Wren also hopes the series can capture the often gritty experience of a generation simply trying to make it work. 

Coming of age in a less secure economy, Wren says that millennials often struggle to answer the questions previous generations seemed to innately understand, from how to buy a house to what it really means to pursue the American Dream. Wren believes that’s something a lot of young professionals can relate to, and perhaps take comfort in. 

“Find a way to craft the life of your dreams,” she says. “There’s no life in which, as Ruby says in the first episode, ‘the doors of opportunity will just open before you.’ But we have to take the circumstances that we’re given and try to do the best that we can with them. There are opportunities for great joy, growth and transformation in that.”

Watch the first episode of “Hicksters” below, and keep an eye on the series’ website for new episodes, released weekly.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

The 400-Word Review: The Lion King

Despite a great voice cast, the new version of "The Lion King" was a bad idea from the start.

Why These 6 Days in 1969 Were So Important to Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Magazine is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, but we're not the only ones. We take a look at six notable events from 1969.

Women in Power: The Pros Changing Allegheny County

Allegheny County breaks the old boys’ club by placing women in key positions.

Growing Together: Farmers and Chefs Elevate Pittsburgh Dining

These seven farmer/chef pairings are leading the charge toward more vital vegetable dishes.

Afraid to Go to the Dentist? Consider the Sedation Solution

For some patients, dental work wouldn’t be possible if they were fully alert.

Restaurant Review: Spirits & Tales at the Oaklander Hotel

Executive chef Jessica Lewis’ strong voice is undermined by inconsistencies throughout the restaurant.

Perspectives: A Big Life

A former newspaper reporter's assignment leads to a lifelong friendship with a man who battled a food addiction.

George S. Kaufman’s Sensational Scandal

The Pittsburgh-born playwright made tabloid headlines in the 1930s. (it didn’t slow him down a bit.)

You Can Ride a Roller Coaster Classic

Roller coaster history is hidden nearby — and not where you might think.

Tea, Cake and Death: A Safe Place to Discuss a Scary Subject

“Death Cafes” seek to reduce taboos around the act of dying.

How He Makes the Mundane Sound Magical

Experimental sound artist R. Weis creates otherworldly sonic compositions from everyday materials.

Uber’s New Service Puts Riders in the Driver’s Seat

Passengers in Pittsburgh now can pay for a most customized experience with Uber Comfort.

The 400-Word Review: Secret Obsession

Netflix is on a bit of a hot streak with its original thrillers. Unfortunately, this dud isn't part of it.

After Dark Hall of Fame: Primanti Bros.

The beloved bar-and-restaurant chain has become a Pittsburgh emblem. It's the 10th inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame.

Do You Want to Pay More Taxes to Improve Parks?

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy hopes to restore the city’s parks to their former glory, but they may need a tax increase to do so.