Let me lay out the scene for you: It’s sunny, late afternoon, plants are so beautiful they look as if they are smiling at you, the windows are wide and tall, the wood of the staircase that leads to the big porch where the wine is being poured is a perfect combination of shiny and rustic, the wine is clear white. It’s a party, the intimate kind; the kind of party where all parties know one another. The mood is supportive. There are the reading and signing of papers, the exchanging of vows, removing of rings. It is a divorce party. Two red balloons are released into the clear blue sky. Thus begins the Pilot episode of Lost and Found.
It is hard nowadays to keep our old ways of relating. The innovations to ease the process of coming together are endless, and the tools to disguise our vulnerability are far too numerous for us to ignore: We text instead of calling, we romance ourselves and others in a life lived behind well-filtered and edited pictures of ourselves. We find bedmates with the swipe our phones.
The process of breaking up, however, remains analog. Once we have passed the threshold of mutual swipes, once we have allowed time to solidify a bond; we are on our own when it comes to the undoing. To break is by definition to separate into parts, it’s disorienting, messy and can be inexplicably painful. The idea that two persons can stand side by side and chose to do it amicably is the premise of this new narrative.
I talked to director/writer Haroula Rose and actress Melonie Diaz about how they put together the pieces of their newest collaboration.
Why this story?
Haroula Rose: It comes from my own fantasy that maybe there is a way to end a relationship well.
Is it really a fantasy?
HR: Here’s the deal, I think that it can be. But there are people who do it in a grounded way, and I think it’s cool to learn from it because I hear so many stories from people about terrible, bitter divorces. Why can’t we come from a higher place, where if you really love someone, you are ok with letting things go and coming to some sort of peace? So it’s not necessarily a fantasy because I’ve done it in my own life, but it is a way to look at things differently.
Did you ever have a divorce party in your life?
HR: No, but people do it. I researched it as I was writing and there are people who do un-weddings or divorce ceremonies or parties or whatever. So I thought since the divorce rate is so high anyway, maybe there’s a way of looking at this differently that is healthier. We are lucky to go through life with our big relationships and big love affairs or marriages. Maybe things aren’t supposed to last forever, but does that mean we have to be bitter or trapped? I don’t think so. I think we can look at it and be grateful for what we’ve got to experience.
You’re a musician, and you’ve worked on films before, how does that compare to communicating through the medium of Television?
HR: If I write a song, and it gets used in a TV show or a movie, it’s amazing how I’ll get a message on my website or Facebook or Twitter: “Oh I was going through this really hard time and listening to this helped me get through it”. You have this direct access to people. It’s not something that is monetizable, but it means so much more because I got to put something into the universe that actually struck a chord with somebody.
You make something and you hope it has its own life. It’s like a kid. You raise it and you put it out there and have a big hope for it. Sometimes you get lucky and it has a big life. And I hope this one does. On a separate level, with Hulu and Amazon and all these platforms that aren’t just on TV, you can reach people on their own personal devices. That’s really intimate. Someone watching your thing as they’re about to go to sleep or start their day. Maybe it’s not the biggest audience in the world like HBO or Channel 5, but it is an easy way to find your audience and that’s so cool.
With so many different platforms and mediums available do you think it can get overwhelming?
HR: Yeah, as there’s no cultural curator, per se, the same way there once was, but I think that kind of democracy is what has given people the ability to make what they can with less means which ultimately is a good thing. I would rather have more art in the world than less.
Tell me about your character?
Melonie Diaz: She has been married for ten years and is newly single. The pilot episode is her divorce party. She is trying to figure out what it means to not be in a relationship, to take care of herself and her own wellbeing. I feel like a lot of women can really relate to this: we get so invested in our relationships we stop taking care of ourselves.
How do you think this story is different from all the other relationship stories?
MD: Often, a lot of television is about a couple who are at each other’s throats, and that is a reality for a lot of relationships, we fight, that’s how we communicate sometimes. What’s different here is that it’s about a couple that is trying to end it amicably. Just trying to do it peacefully. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really end that well, you’ll see in the pilot why, but it’s a good attempt.
We are all in a very different world than we were a year ago. It’s almost like the country went through its own divorce. Does the show reflect that too?
MD: I’m devastated by the political climate right now. I cry every day because of it. It’s really hard because you see how ugly it all is. It was ugly before, but now it’s at the forefront of people’s minds…. But I don’t think Lost and Found is some kind of big political statement. It’s not trying to be one at all, but I think that it is a real commentary on relationships, friends, marriage, children, and work and how to balance all of those things if somebody watches Lost and Found and feel less alone in this world – that’s cool. There are a lot of beautiful things in this world too. I feel blessed on a daily basis, to make people feel that there is a commonality between each other is so important right now because we are so divided.
Are you in a relationship right now?
MD: I am. I’m in a really healthy, loving relationship. This is years after being with terrible men. It was really like my karma chip was like: ‘Ok, I’m done’.
(Laughing) I need a karma chip…
Photography by Leslie Hassler