3 webseries that are reclaiming the

Photo via Joanbanjo/Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III

‘Crazy’ isn’t always a bad thing.

The Internet has no short history of calling women crazy. Trolls and gossip outlets are ever ready to label the next offender. Log on to Twitter and you’ll find no shortage of attacks on women who dare to have opinions. On TMZ, celebrities who seem in need of serious help are branded a “freak show.”

But what can be found on the Web is simply a magnified reflection of the daily restrictions placed on women. You don’t have to be a celebrity or even have a Twitter presence to know that a woman who dares not to smile, nod, and be polite often risks criticism, ridicule, or even public shaming.

The ladies behind these three webseries aren’t running from the “C” word. Shalyah Evans of I’m Not Crazy; Lyle Friedman and Ashley Skidmore of #hotmessmoves; and Kady Ruth Ashcraft, Hayley Kosan, and Alise Morale’s of IFC Comedy Crib’s Horrible Insane Girl are claiming the word for their own. The creators and performers behind each series spoke to the Daily Dot about their thoughts on the “C” word, and revealed their most personal thoughts on all kinds of crazy.

1) I’m Not Crazy

I’m Not Crazy features MTV Girl Code’s Shalyah Evans wigging out on plumbers, pizza delivery guys, and sales clerks. In the series, Evans is neurotically polite and eager to please at the start of each interaction, but the inevitable mention of the “C” word sends her reeling.

The series, directed by Kevin Etherson and Tom Capps, offers a cathartic fantasy for anyone who’s played the nice girl one time too many. Evans resembles a Disney princess come to life and she’s got the natural cheer of a camp counselor, but with every freakout the message is clear: Nice does not equal doormat.

Have you ever been called crazy in real life or on the Internet? How do you feel about the word “crazy”?

I’ve been called crazy in person, online, probably in a few secret journals… It’s not a nice word. I think “crazy” gets thrown around way too much as a stand-in for “emotional” or “not doing what I want” and sometimes just for “you are a woman.” Not only is it a mean thing to say to someone, but it trivializes the other person and their feelings, and also stigmatizes the idea of “crazy.” Nine times of of 10, I’m called crazy when I’m just trying to get something done.

What inspired you to make a series that explores this side of lady behavior?

I’m Not Crazy was totally inspired by my own life. I’m always quietly grinding my teeth and pulling my hair out when I’m being pushed around, and the series gave me a chance to let out that frustration. Think of this series as my super-fun personal revenge fantasy! Women get talked down to on such an upsettingly regular basis—by men—but we also do it to each other. It’s infuriating, and you can start to feel crazy dealing with it. I think we’d all emotionally benefit from throwing things in a coffee shop once in a while.

Your character freaks out in every episode but she also triumphs and gets what she wants. Do crazy women get things done?

I think that using “crazy” as a tool to get things done usually goes one of two ways: You either get what you came for or you get arrested. It’s certainly a risk, but sometimes it can feel like the only way anyone will take you seriously is to lose it. I don’t recommend robbing any store employees, but you can yell at the plumber a little when he’s not doing his job. There’s a balance in there somewhere. Please let me know if you find it!

2) #hotmessmoves

Lyle Friedman and Ashley Skidmore are the yin and yang: Friedman is demure while Skidmore is unapologetically loud and crass. #hotmessmoves follows the twosome through a variety of raunchy and intimate scenarios where mistakes range from tender to triumphant.

Have either of you been called crazy in real life or on the Internet? How do you feel about the word “crazy”?

Friedman: Yes… recently I was put on a crazy scale by a dude and he said I was a six, but that most women are a six (on the way to 10)… So yeah, let’s not examine why all women are a six to you, dude. Your behavior is perfectly fine and permissible.

Skidmore: Oh boy, have I ever been called crazy. I mean, look, I think every human is crazy, but women just have a greater capacity of emoting and connecting with each other than men do. So, yes, we get called “crazy” a lot when we express our emotional ups and downs. We all have them as humans, but men are taught to stifle them to be macho. So I take it as a complement and a sign of being an evolved human. Or I’m just crazy. I still have exes that call me crazy on the Internet, but they are straight-up lunatics so I feel happy they consider me an ally to themselves and the “crazy” community.

What inspired you to make a series that explores this side of lady behavior?

Skidmore: Well, Lyle and I went out to [the bar] one night and were doing a bunch of bits with all the [comedy] big boys… I did a hilarious bit and got no laughter [from the boys] because it was too “sexual” and [they] were preoccupied with planning how to have sex with us. We realized we needed to shed light on female comedy while taking into account that we, too, are sexual beings. And [we] can tell a joke without wanting to fuck someone as the punchline. Also, girls are gross and we always want to encourage ladies to give in to that grossness.

Friedman: I think we were just trying to make something about human behavior and then it ended up being this thing where most of my friends tell me, “I do that, too! But I just never talked about it.” I don’t know what’s wrong with us that we’re always talking about these moments.

Your characters on #hotmessmoves don’t always get what they want, but they also seem to be having a lot of fun. Do crazy women have more fun?

Friedman: God, I hope so. But, like, they might also experience more pain? I don’t know. I’m having fun… most days.

Skidmore: Absofuckinglutely. Crazy women have more fun because they’re called crazy so much for just being themselves that in general they’re just like, “Fuck it!” Also, there’s nothing more fun than mixing it up and ruining your life for a good story. But again, this is what makes me crazy.

3) Horrible Insane Girl

Horrible Insane Girl is an eight-sketch series created by Kady Ruth Ashcraft, Hayley Kosan, and Alise Morales for IFC’s Comedy Crib. The team describes the show as a blend of Portlandia and Broad City, and their brand of crazy creeps in more subtly and quietly than the title would suggest.

Ashcraft and Morales, who feature in the sketches, have an easy chemistry that grounds the scenes in reality, while Kosan works behind the camera to bring the world of Horrible Insane Girl to life.

Have any of you been called crazy in real life or on the Internet? How do you feel about the word “crazy”?

Kosan: My ex called me crazy once. I hear she’s a rapper now. For the record, she’s the crazy one, not me.

Ashcraft: Yes, I’ve been called crazy many times, sometimes in earnest and often in jest. I think it’s a word that’s thrown around so frequently it’s lost its meaning as “truly insane” to more mean someone you disagree with and cannot understand their logic. I think “crazy” is an easy way to dismiss a person and their feelings.

Morales: I’ve been called crazy many times and on all mediums because I am actually crazy. I think we settled on the name Horrible Insane Girl because as women we’ve all been called crazy so many times that there comes a point where embracing it is more fun than trying to prove that you’re not—kind of like what Taylor Swift did with the “Blank Space” music video. Basically, what I’m trying to say is we are the sketch comedy version of the “Blank Space” music video.

What inspired you to make a series that explores this side of lady behavior?

Kosan: I don’t know if we’re exploring an untapped side of lady behavior. I think we’re just externalizing emotional situations many people, gentlemen included, internalize. But in the most absurd way we could.

Ashcraft: I think the three of us are all hypercreative people (is that obnoxious to say?) and are always bouncing trillions of ideas off of each other and off everyone to the point that we’ve had to throw away caring if we come across as crazy or not. There is something liberating about being “insane” because you suddenly aren’t bound by social expectations and rules. There is a lot more freedom when you’re “crazy.” Hayley’s directorial style and the tone she creates through editing the sketches often mimics a dreamlike hyperreality that allows for more absurdist behavior. But also, just when you think we’re going off the deep end, we’ve written a parody of The Bachelor where the cast is entirely competent and self-starting women. So sometimes the craziest thing of all is deciding when you want to be insane or not.

Morales: I think the main thing we tried to set out to do in this series is explore ourselves and what we’re capable of, and if that translates to some answers for people about the mysterious lives of women, we’ll take it. I don’t think any of us set out to write lady-specific topics, but being that we are ladies, that sensibility and experience is what we draw from in our sketches, both visually because of Hayley’s brilliant directing and structurally because of me and Kady’s piss-poor and nearly unintelligible writing.

Your characters freak out, but the end of the Valentine’s Day sketch makes it clear that they have a very solid friendship. Do crazy women make better friends?

Kosan: Yeah, because crazy women get shit done!

Morales: I am crazy and all my friends are crazy and one day we will all rule the world.

Ashcraft: I don’t think crazy women necessarily make better friends, but I think it’s important that friendships have room for craziness. I think we’re at an exciting time where popular media is reflecting the full dimensions of female friendships. It’s really fun to make stuff with female friends about the multitudinous [nature] of your relationships.

Photo via Joanbanjo/Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III

Nayomi Reghay

Nayomi Reghay

Nayomi Reghay is a frequent contributor to the Daily Dot, covering body positivity, feminism, sex, relationships, and gender. She is also the author of the advice column “Swipe This!” A former New York Teaching Fellow, her writing has been featured in Reductress, Rolling Stone, Mic, Someecards, and more.