Review: Myrtle & Willoughby

BY: RACHEL GRANILLO

Growing up in a household with a working mother and father as caregiver, it was instilled in me young that I had the capability to do anything. Gender roles did not feel like they were seeping into my life and I didn’t feel true limitation. This bliss lasted for a little but as I got older, it became wildly apparent that in reality, women face barriers to becoming who they want to be because of patriarchal glass ceilings in their lives and other forms of systematic oppression.

 
 

Enter, Myrtle & Willoughby, a mini-series created by a New York-based comedy writing duo, Jorja Hudson and Brittany Tomkin that’s bringing attention to these exact issues but in a comedic light. The mini-series follows two Bushwick Brooklyn cops who work in the “millennial crimes unit.” The “millennial crimes unit”concept was born in the living room of Hudson and Tomkin back when they were roommates in 2015 and paired with the noted Myrtle-Willoughby Avenue station Brooklyn stop. Meeting each other for the first time as they signed a lease to be roommates, the comedy pair feels like they were meant to be, at least to the audience POV. 

The series kicks off with a homicide case of a dead twenty- something-year old man with a bag of Molly and a dead phone in his hand. This case carries Detectives Myrtle and Willoughby (Brittany Tomkin and Jorja Hudson) throughout the series as they put their jobs and even their lives on the line to get this case closed. The series also brings an awareness to the struggle that millennial working class women face. Captain Kipperary (Will Hines), orders the detectives to leave the case alone because he believes they are not capable of taking on a homicide case. However, he puts Detective Sam Goodguy (Dom Manzolillo) a fellow millenial in charge of the case, defining that Detectives Myrtle and Willoughby’s “incapabilities” come from being women. 

 
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Tomkin explains to the Light Leaks, “ When you're a woman, particularly in a male-dominated industry or job, then that's just life. Not addressing inequality in the workplace wouldn't be realistic - even less realistic than Willoughby sharing ice cream with her pet Squid. Not addressing inequality would feel like erasure of what it feels like to be a woman.”

Myrtle even says that they aren’t taken seriously because they’re millennials, while Willoughby adds in “and women.” Even though they are held back by their Captain, the two women believe they are capable of solving the homicide case. They decide to put their jobs at risk by taking evidence from the precinct and following their leads. Tomkins notes, “One thing about Myrtle and Willoughby as characters is that their perceived weaknesses are also their strengths, and I think that comes through very often with their identity as female millennials.” 

We see the roots of Willoughby’s childhood in a flashback of her mother that comes to her in the middle of her workday, “Who’s a special little girl who can be anything she wants to be one day?” And that statement from her mother is a vote of confidence- not just to Willoughby herself but to all women. Simultaneously an extremely bingeable comedic watch and a satirical recognition of the obstacles built into women’s careers, you can’t miss Myrtle & Willoughby. Tomkins and Hudson created the characters for themselves to play and their personalities shine through on screen scene after scene. Each cast member adds their own flair to the obvious chemistry on screen- the team works so well together that you easily slip into their world. I can’t wait to see what’s next for this duo, the sky's the limit for the creativity of these ladies.

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Rachel Granillo, 20, is an aspiring screenwriter and lawyer. She currently is studying screenwriting at California State University, Northridge and hopes to get a Master's degree in documentary film and a JD degree for environmental law. She moved from Central California to Southern California to pursue her goals and will be graduating Spring 2020. She has been exploring her medium from creative writing to journalism for several years now. In her free time she also enjoys doing photography and making short videos of her adventures. With her career she would like to bring the reality of the world, using captivating true stories, to the big screen. Connect with Rachel here.