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In an enormous, downtown Los Angeles studio—surrounded by gold glitter, confetti, and an empty bottle of champagne—I sat down to interview the women behind #hotmessmoves. Lyle Friedman and Ashley Skidmore would speak with me first in 2013, and several times since. That afternoon, I’d be the first reporter they talked to.
There is a magic between Skidmore and Friedman who see no topic, from iTunes sex playlists to therapy, as untouchable by humor. Together the former Upright Citizens Brigade alums write, produce, direct, and star in their YouTube webseries #hotmessmoves, which celebrates the hot mess moments every woman living in the big city during her 20s understands all too well.
Originally based in New York City, the pair decided to relocate part-time to Los Angeles and pursue standup comedy and television writing. In 2013 Friedman and Skidmore stood out as pioneers in pursuing female-driven sketch comedy on YouTube, building an audience with their minute-long videos. Their ability to capture the female experience beyond the typical period jokes instantly gained prominent fans such as Hannah Hart and Grace Helbig. The pair’s channel netted more than two-million views in no time. But after a year of success, Skidmore and Friedman suddenly disappeared from the YouTube waves.
With good reason: 2015 marked the beginning of Skidmore and Friedman’s blossoming into the Hollywood sphere. Following the success of their YouTube channel, they were hired to write for TV Land series Younger, starring Sutton Foster and Hilary Duff. The two even appeared as topless music festival gals in one of the show’s episodes, recognizable for their fluorescent wigs and censored boobs.
Shortly after getting picked up by Younger, news broke last year that Skidmore and Friedman had partnered with Transparent creator Jill Soloway to write and produce a feminist comedy for MTV. As Soloway told the Hollywood Reporter, “Lyle and Ashley have a magical ability to tap into the female psyche, and through their own special brand of truth and humor they absolve us of our most humiliating moments. I’m so excited to godmother this show and bring Lyle and Ashley’s fresh take on lady power to MTV.”
“We have had many experiences in the interim of writing Younger for three years and the things that didn’t make it into scripts, we decided some of the offbeat stuff could go on the Internet instead,” Skidmore tells the Daily Dot about the pair’s return to YouTube.
This month the pair uploaded a new sketch without warning, officially signaling a return to YouTube. As for what we can expect from upcoming episodes, Skidmore teases, “Just some good old-fashioned mess. We are pairing with Fullscreen to re-release the old stuff later this month, so we decided to top it off with some rediscovered material to get people watching again. And to know we’re still alive. That’s important.”
What Broad City has done for female comedians on television, #hotmessmoves has done for women in digital media. With Skidmore and Friedman as examples, women are empowered to be loud, honest, take up space, laugh until milk comes out of their noses, and take those walks of shame with pride. It’s a big message for a 60-second video, but the most important any creator could provide young female viewers.
Carly Lanning is a journalist who covers social media. Her work has been published by Psychology Today, NBC, Thrillist, and Ms. Magazine.