Q&A With ‘Girl Code’ Creator, Ryan Ling (Variety)
It’s a friend who overstayed his welcome at his New York apartment who inspired him to pitch “Guy Code,” a show in which comedians outlines the do’s and don’ts of brotherhood, to MTV2. The comedy’s success spawned “Girl Code,” “Guy Code’s” female counterpart, that debuted on MTV in 2013.
Audiences latched onto “Girl Code” just a ferociously as they did “Guy Code.” Covering such topics as sexting, drinking, dieting, makeup and more, “Girl Code” brought its comedians to the forefront and generated countless quotes and gifs that made their way around the Internet.
Season 3 of “Girl Code” will premiere Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 10 p.m., and Ling took some time to talk to Variety about new changes to the show, that roommate that inspired “Guy Code” and possible future “Code” spinoffs.
What made you spin “Guy Code” off into “Girl Code”?
It seemed like the natural evolution. We had done three seasons of “Guy Code” and I think the whole time, we always wondered, “What would ‘Girl Code’ look like if we did it?” It just seemed natural after doing so many episodes of “Guy Code.”
Did you expect fans to latch onto “Girl Code” like they did with “Guy Code”?
It was definitely the goal, but I think it was an interesting time for female comedy. “Bridesmaids” had just crushed at the box office at that point when we started to think about “Girl Code,” but the goal was to appeal to those female viewers who maybe we weren’t speaking to with “Guy Code.” But none of us could have predicted how much the fans really owned the series.
Are you sticking with the same comedians this time, or do you have any new ones?
We are sticking with a lot of the same, but we added a few ladies that we’re really excited about. Annie Lederman, she’s a stand-up comic – I think she’s LA-based now – but she’s great and just the perfect addition. And then we have Nora “Awkwafina” Lum. We had kind of known about her for a while. She’s got some hip hop videos on YouTube, but she’s just a really fresh, hilarious personality that we added. And we have Jade Catta-Preta. She’s a standup comic as well. It was fun to get some new voices in there and just kind of add them in.
Walk me through what goes into a taping of one of the episodes. Do they have some sort of a script beforehand?
We know the talking points of each episode. We ask all the talent the same questions, so I think it’s a lot of fun because they prepare differently. Like, the standup comedians often write their jokes, but for some of the more improv, sketch-type of ladies like Nicole Byer, for instance, she doesn’t write. She just improvs on the site. So I think it’s just fun to see how they all approach that shot differently.
Now that you’re into season three, is it ever hard to come up with topics?
They’re usually pretty easy to come up with. I think all the producers and I are really just looking at real life experiences to speak to on the show.
I think what’s fun about the third season is we wanted to dig a little bit deeper in the topics, because in the first couple of seasons, what we talked about was juxtaposed in every episode. Whether it was ex-boyfriends at the top of the show and then all of the sudden, we talk about getting your nails done, for the third season we seamed all the episodes. So we have one episode where we talk all about divorce — when your parents got divorced and how that affected your dating life. What do you do when your parents start dating again? So we get a little bit more real, and I guess a little bit deeper. We talk about toxic relationships, money, humor. Discovering your sexuality is a really great episode, so I think it’s interesting, just to stay on a similar topic for the whole half hour.
If you go on Tumblr, there’s gifs of the show all over the place, and MTV seems to really have embraced that. Do you think that’s played a part in the success of the show?
I like to hope so. I think it’s such a, I know that “Guy Code” and “Girl Code” are really social online, and it’s fun. It’s just like, a byproduct of making a good show right now. It definitely gets people talking about it and reaches into the audience online.
Back in the beginning, how did the idea for “Guy Code” even start?
Basically, one of my old friends had just moved to New York City and needed a place to crash. He has just gotten dumped and he was all upset about it, so I wanted to be a good friend, so I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever you need. Come crash, get your feet on the ground in New York.’ Cut to a month and a half later, he’s still on my couch, and just kind of became this fixture in my apartment that I didn’t want there anymore. And I’d known that Paul Ricci at MTV2 had said that they’re looking for young male comedy driven shows, and I was already thinking of ideas and writing, but this guy on my couch had just ran into my ex-girlfriend on the street and he’s like, ‘What happened? Where are you?’ And she was like, ‘I don’t know, we just broke up. It happens sometimes.’ And he kind of hit on her. He was like ‘Well, we should hang out some time.’ And I found out, I was like, ‘Definitely guy code broken.’
That was just one of the things. He was just a mess in the apartment, breaking all these rules in my head. So it basically all became that pitch. I was like, ‘People need to know what they should and shouldn’t do in life.’ And that was basically the inception of the whole series.
Do you think there could be any more “Code” spinoffs in the future?
I certainly hope so. The shows have been great in opening up a dialogue, depending on what we’re talking about. So I think there’s always room to grow. We’ll see what’s next for the “Code” franchise.
By Alex Stedman for Variety.com