Michael Barnett – Co-creator, Producer;
Novelty Hat Productions
Kevin Davis – Series Creator, Producer;
Visibly Shaken Productions
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AWARD-WINNING COMEDY SERIES, "THE SHADES," RELEASES NEW EPISODE SATIRIZING CHRISTIANITY
Visibly Shaken Productions and Novelty Hat Productions are pleased to announce the release of the newest episode of their award-winning series, The Shades, a jointly produced web series offering a satirical look at religious extremism in the current American landscape.
Nearing the end of its first season, The Shades was a quarterfinalist in the 2016 NexTV Web Series & Indie Film competition, and is an 8th annual Indie Series Awards Winner for Best Visual Effects. Tubefilter, Snobby Robot, and Huffington Post, among others, have all written favorably.
The Shades follows Hailey and John, a prototypical married couple who move to a suburban community inhabited by a diverse array of spiritual fanatics. As they navigate life in the community, they witness outlandish behaviors, extreme rituals and a myriad of sticky situations. All the while, they must confront their own subconscious prejudices and misconceptions, while struggling to balance their own relationship in this new suburban hell.
Entitled “The Christians,” this newest episode follows Robin, an average guy and devout Christian, more in the mold of Jesus rather than any contemporary sect. However, he lives with 4 Christian stereotypes in a house that adheres to 80’s sitcom logic, rife with catchphrases and laugh tracks. In reality, these "roommates" are actually delusions in Robin's head. Meanwhile we see the relationship of our main protagonists, Hailey and John, falling apart; John has been going through a midlife crisis involving crazy parties with the satanist college frat boys down the street. Hailey finds a willing ear in Robin and unloads all her stress and insecurities on him, while he tries to keep his "roommates" in check and still stay present for Hailey's breakdown.
“This episode is not an attack on Christianity, but a commentary on stereotypes and misconceptions,” said producer Kevin Davis. “Stereotypes are a burden that so many groups, specifically minority and religious groups, have to shoulder, and eventually the weight of them takes a toll. However, it is easy for white, conservative audiences to dismiss this idea since it rarely reflects their own population. Hopefully, using Christianity as a target will open their eyes to how stereotypes affect everyone.”
“There is a lot of low-hanging fruit when tackling Christianity,” added Barnett. “And our goal was to repurpose a lot of these obvious stereotypes into fuel for our bigger argument: that by being a devout Christian and truly following Jesus’ example of universal compassion and mercy, one can easily become mired by the vocal minority of hateful and corrupt ‘Christians’ in this country. You can’t move forward and follow a that sort of pious life without first acknowledging and moving past all the terrible things that have been done in the name of Christianity.”
The producers stress that The Shades is not a direct criticism of any organized religion in particular, or even the very notion of religion. Rather, it uses faith as a foundation for humor and to discuss relevant issues, including race, stereotypes, miscommunication and fears of the unknown. It takes on highbrow concepts with lowbrow humor that embraces shifts in reality and tone, and is never afraid to get messy.
“Offending viewers was a risk we took willingly. You don’t necessarily tread lightly when you talk about how extreme views on faith can have negative and unintended consequences,” said Barnett. “And I think people in general need to be more receptive to the idea of being offended, and what that says about themselves and their world view.”
“We are in real turbulent times, and it is more important than ever to ask the questions we are asking,” added Davis. “Humor is our way of breaking down the barriers people have walled themselves behind, and starting the discussion.”
New episodes of The Shades can be viewed online at TheShades.tv, and on their vimeo channel (vimeo.com/theshades). You can Like The Shades on Facebook at /theshadesseries, and follow them on Twitter and Instagram @theshadesseries.
Visibly Shaken Productions is a Baltimore-based production company specializing in short form content and theatre. They have collaborated with many mid-atlantic artists, performers, and theatre companies. Their work has been shown at regional festivals, including the Baltimore 29 Days Later Film Project and the One-Minute Play Festival.
Novelty Hat is a New York-based production company specializing in short form content. They have created and collaborated on music videos for artists such as Felix Da Housecat and Fort Lean, among others. Their 2013 docu-music video on gentrification, “Pocket Full of Detritus,” recently earned them a slot at the 2015 Brooklyn Film Festival. For more work, visit novelty-hat.com