By Anne Marie Cummings
My inspiration behind “Conversations in L.A.” first comes from liking to write about relationships, more often than not, between men and women, but in general, all kinds of relationships — gay, transgender, you name it!
My second inspiration? When I first moved to Los Angeles from New York — just two years ago — I actually started dating this younger guy who lied to me about his age and then shortly thereafter admitted that he lied. That then became the opening premise between my main characters for Season One. Now my relationship with this younger guy only lasted a couple of weeks or so, so after that, and because I’m a writer, my imagination started running wild and before I knew it, I was writing dialogue between a menopausal, but fascinatingly complex woman named, Michelle, and a much younger, hot-headed, but very sexy and sincere Hispanic guy, named Gus.
On Older Women/Younger Men Relationships
As I started writing down their conversations, I realized that there are so few older women who openly talk about their relationships with younger guys. So this dark comedy that I began to write started to feel very realistic. The conversations Michelle and Gus were having felt, at times, fun and playful, but also difficult and multifaceted conversations that people have when they really need to have a talk with someone — meaning the stakes are always high for the characters which is always good for exciting drama!
I still think there’s this taboo out there about older women and younger men falling in love and being able to make it work and in this story we really get to see them work through their issues dealing with that dynamic. We see that Gus is capable of being the one with the upper hand in his relationship with Michelle, yet extremely vulnerable and sometimes incapable of meeting Michelle where she’s at emotionally, no matter how much he says or wants to be on the page she’s on.
I also think menopause is not all that well understood by a lot of women. For example, when I reached my menopausal phase in life, it was gradual and I had no idea what was going on with me physically. All I knew initially is that I stopped getting my period and so much changed. After that I had to take care of the situation. It wasn’t — Oh, I’m menopausal now and I don’t have to do anything. It was — Oh my God, I’m menopausal and I need to do some things differently, like right now or else (and this list got longer and longer until I did something about it) I have to alter my sugar intake or else I’ll put on 20 pounds, I need to exercise more, I need to take more vitamins, and the biggie — I need to see a hormone replacement therapy doctor so my f&%$! hot flashes stop.
In “Conversations in L.A.” we get to see the ramifications of the mid-life event (i.e. mid-life crisis) played out with Michelle as well as the supporting characters (Alex played by Brett Benner and Nicole played by Vanita Harbour, Michelle’s friends who work at Amazon, where she used to work).
On Sexual Vibrance
Now re the topic of sexual vibrance…well, that’s an interesting one because I think that’s the topic most people are used to hearing when you know you’re about to dive into a story where the main characters are an older woman and younger man. As I wrote Michelle and Gus’ story, I realized that in order to tell it truthfully, I had to dig deeper into their psyches and what I found is — the problems and issues they have aren’t that different from the problems and issues a couple close in age would have. I think the older woman/younger man relationship is often portrayed as sex-sex-sex, but come on — even couples who have sex have to stop and talk for a little while!
What Else I Found
Additionally, many young men want to be more mature when they’re with an older woman. It’s not the story we’re used to hearing. I think it’s more real than ever in “Conversations in L.A.” Michelle and Gus aren’t Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher for God’s sake — they’re more like Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler from “Gone With the Wind.” They fight, they argue, they love, they get angry, they challenge each other, they don’t have sex, they have sex. It’s a relationship we can identify with and it’s reality, not a fantasy.
About the Show
“Conversations in L.A.” is about Michelle Macabee, a 48-year-old, unemployed, menopausal woman who’s having a mid-life crisis.
While waiting at the subway station, with a hamster she purchased to cope with the death of her dog, she meets Gus, a Hispanic millennial she falls in love, but before he confesses that he isn’t 44 years old, or 32, or even 28 (like he said he was), but in reality…23.
Marion, Michelle’s pet loss therapist, convinces Michelle to stick with Gus, but Alex and Nicole, Michelle’s best friends from Amazon (where she used to work), persuade Michelle to forget him. Cocktails with a cub (who turns out to be a mid-life porn director), a confrontation with Alex and Nicole about Gus, and a conversation with Gus about how they’re really going to deal with their age difference, help Michelle realize what she wants.
“Conversations in L.A.” is a story about following your heart, regardless of what other people think. Gus says it to Michelle in the pilot episode, El Sol, when he quotes Paulo Coelho from “The Alchemist” …“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.”
Originally published at medium.com