The Other Guy is, at its core, a comedy-drama about love (or, more specifically, a lack of it). The show follows AJ, a radio DJ who goes off the rails after he discovers his girlfriend has been cheating with his best friend, who is never seen on screen.
“In a weird way it’s about this absent villain who is constantly stealing AJ’s happiness,” says Matt Okine, the show’s creator and star (pictured left). “It also comes down to the fact I had a similar thing happen to me. After it happened, I began rebelling in the opposite direction: drinking and having sex with different people.”
Okine recalls realising he had slept with another man’s girlfriend – effectively becoming ‘the other guy’ he rallied against. The Australian comic and radio personality subsequently wrote a stand-up routine about his experiences to work through his feelings.
Angie Fielder of Aussie prodco Aquarius Films heard about the act from Okine’s sister (Rachel Okine, a former Entertainment One sales exec now working at Studiocanal in a VP post), and decided it would make the perfect entry into TV series for her firm.
“Aquarius was looking to get into TV, and to be able to act and star in a TV series was always a dream for me – I lived and breathed Seinfeld growing up,” says Okine.
Novice television writer Okine called on friends Becky Lucas (Please Like Me) and Greg Waters (Soul Mates) to co-write, and soon Australian subscription VOD service Stan had commissioned a six-episode series as its latest original scripted effort, and launched it on August 17.
Kacie Anning directs, and Harriet Dyer (No Activity), Valene Kane (The Fall), Magda Szubanski (Kath & Kim) and Christiaan van Vuuren (Bondi Hipsters) co-star. The material is acerbic and uncomfortable at times, but is honest and likely to resonate with urban millennials.
Okine says that while The Other Guy was shot as a TV series, the over-the-top distribution method and subject matter – the mundane moments of everyday life – will mean some young adult audiences will consume it in more filmic ways.
“Stan is a new service, but is so much more willing to take risks than some of the networks,” he adds. “We got in at the right time – we’ve moved to the Wild West just after they struck oil. We call The Other Guy a TV show, but there is a whole audience that will watch this like a movie with five intervals.”
Tonally, the show apes US series such as Master of None and Atlanta, though is noticeably Australian and local in flavour. Entertainment One Television, whose executive VP of TV development for Australia and New Zealand, Jude Troy, supported the project from an early stage, has international sales rights.
“Matt has such a fresh and distinctive voice that is universally appealing,” says Troy. “His narrative is full of heart and pathos. Heartbreaking and achingly honest, Matt and co-writers Becky Lucas and Greg Waters’ sharply funny observations on life and love will resonate with audiences globally.”
She predicts word of mouth will see the series “spread like wildfire”, akin to shows such as Catastrophe, Master of None, Please Like Me and Girls. “Matt, Becky and indeed many of the key cast have substantial social media followings that are already driving the groundswell,” adds Troy.
eOne sees the US and UK as obvious spots for deals, but Troy predicts it will “no doubt reach audiences in Europe and Asia as well”, adding: “We are quietly confident, so much so that a second season is already in discussion.”