Hearing-impaired platonic friends get ‘This Close’ on Sundance Now

‘This Close’: Deaf actors make series based on their friendship

Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes a new dramedy series about a male-female relationship where romance isn’t part of the equation.

In “This Close,” which begins streaming Wednesday, Feb. 14, on Sundance Now, we are introduced to Kate (Shoshannah Stern, “Weeds”), a 30-ish public relations executive who just got engaged to boyfriend Danny (Zach Gilford, “The Purge: Anarchy”). Her life is on an upward trajectory, but that of her long-time friend Michael (Josh Feldman, “The Chances”), a graphic novelist, most definitely is not. He’s just been dumped by his boyfriend and is drowning his miseries in an ocean of drink.

Shoshannah Stern and Josh Feldman in “This Close”

To make matters worse, Kate takes pity on Michael and at first doesn’t tell him about her big news, which only serves to make him feel and react even worse when he does find out.

“The timing totally sucks,” Feldman explains through a deaf interpreter, “because how can Michael be happy for Kate when he’s going through the worst time of his own life? Like he feels like s… . He feels very upset every day but this is a big moment in his best friend’s life and so he feels bad. That’s why Michael doesn’t react very well.”

“In defense of Michael,” Stern adds with a laugh, “I think that it’s less about Kate’s engagement and the fact that Kate didn’t tell him. So the show at its heart, we like to think it’s about communication but the secrets are the opposite of clear communication. So when Michael finds out that Kate kept her engagement secret from him, it’s really tough for him.”

The story is based on the real-life friendship of the two principals, series co-creators and writers Stern and Feldman, two deaf actors and Gallaudet University pals who decided to do a series about deaf characters experiencing life, love and day-to-day trials in a world set up for the hearing.

“I think they are each other’s person,” says Stern of Kate and Michael. “There’s one person in your life that makes you be your best self and I think that each of them are that for each other. I think Kate brings Michael out of his shell and Michael helps Kate be more grounded.”

“Kate and Michael are almost mirror images of each other but in reverse, if you will,” Feldman adds. “Like Michael’s more dark, Kate’s more light. They need the other to balance (themselves) out.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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