Showtime Comedy ‘Flatbush Misdemeanors’ Showcases Less Trendy Brooklyn Neighborhood
Comics Kevin Iso, Dan Perlman star in funky comedy about disconnection
Comedy Flatbush Misdemeanors, about a couple guys getting by in the Brooklyn neighborhood in the title, starts on Showtime May 23. Kevin Iso and Dan Perlman created the series and star, Iso as a food delivery man and Perlman as a schoolteacher.
“The show explores two long-time friends seeking to climb out of their heads and connect with others,” said Showtime.
Iso and Perlman met doing standup in New York.
Brooklyn has of course been hot for years, but Flatbush Misdemeanors features a neighborhood many outside of New York--and plenty inside, for that matter--don’t know much about. Situated a little further out from Manhattan than Williamsburg, Park Slope and other trendier neighborhoods, Flatbush is south of Prospect Park.
Iso said the neighborhood reminds him of home. (He is from Houston and lives in New York, but mentioned Nigeria when he referred to “home”.) “The heart of the people, the way they embrace each other,” he said.
Perlman grew up in Manhattan and liked the idea of focusing on a less trendy neighborhood. “It’s cool to be able to show other communities that haven’t been shown a billion times,” said Perlman, whose grandfather lived in Flatbush.
There was a TV series called Flatbush that ran for a few weeks on CBS in 1979. About a gang, it had Adrian Zmed in the cast. Characters were called Presto, Figgy, Socks and Turtle.
And there is the 1974 film Lords of Flatbush, which had Sylvester Stallone and Henry Winkler as Brooklyn hoodlums.
Most of the location shots in Flatbush Misdemeanors were shot in the neighborhood. Perlman and Iso said the residents were supportive. “As long as you don’t fuck up traffic too much, people aren’t too mad,” said Perlman. “We didn’t really ruin people’s days, so they were pretty chill.”
Flatbush Misdemeanors got its start as a web series, with three 15-minute episodes. It won some awards, but Perlman said it never really took off. Showtime nevertheless gave it the green light. “Flatbush Misdemeanors is a funny, audacious and inventive series that rips the artisanal sheen off of Brooklyn and mines comedy from the diverse, un-gentrified characters who live there,” said Gary Levine, Showtime president of entertainment, when the network grabbed the series.
“It was exciting to see Showtime was on board with what we were doing creatively,” Perlman said. “We felt very supported by them.”
Nastaran Dibai of Dear White People is the showrunner.
Season three of Don Cheadle comedy Black Monday leads into Flatbush Misdemeanors starting Sunday, May 23. Cheadle spoke with B+C about what drew him to the Eighties comedy. “The characters were very surprising and different. It was subject matter that we’ve seen in films and always dealt with in a more serious way. To do it under the auspices of Seth and Evan [executive producers Rogen and Goldberg] and their insanity was a cool spin on material we’ve seen before.”
Flatbush Misdemeanors touches on gentrification, policing and other urban issues, but mostly it’s a show about disconnected people. “There’s some feeling of disconnect our characters have with everyone else,” said Perlman. “It’s probably something a lot of people are feeling right now, wondering how to reenter society.”
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
By Kent Gibbons