The Equality State
(Why I’m In London)
Dan Bush (Tall, long-ish hair; model looks- smarter attire; fashionable casual look): A handsome and respectable doctor (based in Hackney), he lives in Shoreditch-with his girlfriend, Holly. A 29-year-old, he has plans for bigger things- including marriage. After becoming engaged to Holly (in the first episode) he begins to panic; wondering where his life is going- until he meets Stefan (an old acquaintance he knew from a while ago) – but can’t picture why/how. Dan’s day is spent tending to awkward/odd patients; receiving affections from a female colleague- and preparing for his forthcoming wedding.
Stefan Buckley (short, bearded; brunette- casual clothing): A 36-year-old layabout (obsessed with Thom Yorke), he sits about his flat- he shares with his girlfriend, Kate. Having just fallen pregnant, Stefan needs to step up; improve his ways- become a man (or get distracted by a cocky pigeon). When he starts to feel ill, he visits Dan- and receives some crushing news. Determined to improve his life, he puts together a Bucket list- which he and Dan begin. Stefan lives in Soho with Kate- the two find it hard making rent; under scrutiny from their landlord.
Holly Mercury (red hair, athletic; tattoos- cross between Cheryl Cole and Angelina Jolie; chic dress style): Holly is a young P.C. (24): she is always in trouble; prone to breaking rules- and being inappropriate. Having been on a final warning, after a Halloween party, Holly breaks the rules- letting a criminal drive her home in a police car. Her superiors kick her out: infuriated by her constant controversy. With a wedding coming up, she needs to make plans; get money- aware she does not have a good reputation. After a meeting with Kate- who she used to know at school, the two get together; by accident create a money-making gem. Holly’s future is thrown into turmoil.
Kate Fagen (black, slim; green eyes; short- ‘90s-style casual wear; jeans and T-shirt look- very striking too): A young mum-to-be, Kate (25) is living on the edge: desperate to make ends meet, she spends her days as a Jehovah’s Witness: trying to convert the people of south and east London. After having doors shut in her face; odd encounters- and a musical number, Conversion- the future looks bleak- until she meets Kate. Having to provide for her unborn- who she decided to keep; after a hard decision- and things look on the up.
The pilot focuses on two different couples in their 20s, who come together; during Hallowe’en of 2016. Their coming together will have a huge effect on each other; that will change their lives and cause huge waves.
Kate Fagen is a Jehovah’s Witness; she is down on her luck and a mother-to-be. She has just learned she is pregnant and tries to balance her daily life, coping with it. She goes door-to-door in east London; trying to spread ‘the good word’. The local citizens are not so accepting, and as she meets some weird and wonderful people, she starts to doubt herself. As the sun rises over east London, Alice and her ‘colleagues’ try to change people’s minds; before a huge song-and-dance number- mixing Thriller and Billie Jean together with classic musical elements- breaks out: D.E.N.I.A.L. As a hard morning drags on, Kate returns to her Soho apartment she shares with her boyfriend.
The boyfriend in question is a one Stefan Buckley. He has recently been fired as a teacher, and spends his days obsessed with Radiohead; smoking, drinking and preparing for an upcoming court case: a harassment charge made by Thom Yorke. The two sit down and discuss the future possibility of becoming parents (after an unfortunate announcement; where Kate gets morning sickness in an unfortunate location); both knowing that they do not have the money or security- or stability- to be able to handle it. They weight up their lives, and recollect how and why Stefan got fired: both aware that they need to change their lives.
Over in Camden, P.C. Holly Mercury is on the beat- and on a crime scene. She is a controversial and ‘bent’ police officer, and has been in trouble constantly. From drag racing The Red Cross; wrongful arrests, parking in disabled spaces and tampering with murder scenes, her boss is fuming. Holly arrests some ‘freedom-hating terrorists’; lays down the law and not strictly playing by the rules- not realising they are Hasidic Jews. When they complain, she tells them to ‘tell someone who cares’; as there is a smash cut to her Chief Inspector’s office; as a stack of complaints and written warnings are piled on the desk. She is given one last chance, and told she is on very thin ice. In her spare time, she models for Crimson Electric: a London model agency that is filled with the most disreputable opportunists and odd assignments you could imagine.
In a local hospital, her high-flying and dashing boyfriend Dan Bush is experiencing a typical day. In the clinic he is dealing with some strange and depraved patients, whilst dealing with the advances of a gorgeous co-worker; as well as fending off a tyrannical boss- who is rather violent and angry. In his spare time, he looks after his sick and cantankerous parents (two 80-year-olds). After a rough month, he catches a quick break at his flat; located opposite a kebab shop in Camden- Madonna’s Kebabs (run by Madonna herself; although she tells everyone she is a look-alike). He meets Natalie there, as the two discuss a recent event: Dan proposing the previous night. With Holly’s job at risk and pressures in Dan’s life; Dan starts to feel the strain; as Holly makes lavish- and very unusual plans! As they prepare for the evening’s Hallowe’en party, the day ticks on…
Kate deals with the effects of morning sickness; choosing inconvenient and embarrassing places to fall ill. The day continues, and the four prepare for the evening. As the guests arrive in various costumes, Kate’s niece is round as they have to babysit her. She is a very ‘mature’ and strange 4-year-old and causes all ends of issues; not helped by Stefan teaching her how to smoke. The party swings on, as each of the couples confide in each other; and their various doubts.
As the morning arrives, the four go separate ways. Kate is left to clear up the mess and carnage of the night before; before having to go onto the streets, in a desperate attempt to bring the word of Jehovah to Elephant and Castle and Hackney. Dan has a nightmare morning as his colleague makes a pass, and his fellow doctors tease him about settling down. Holly is fired for letting a drunk meth-head drive her home after the party- in a police car. Holly has her badge, car and clothes stolen, and is now out of a job, being pursued by angry criminals, with the Met. Police angrily demanding the return of the stolen assets. Stefan spends his morning trying to invent the perfect hangover cure; looking for a new job, as well as being embroiled in a battle with a neighbour- with disastrous consequences.
The two boys meet up at a local bar- Homme’s; they discuss their situations and both feel trapped. They are making plans for the future when Stefan gets a phone call with terrible news- he may only have 8 months to live.
The two girls meet at an Australian bar in Soho. With Holly fired and Kate dislocated and lost, they both feel a change is needed. After both drink a well-known cocktail; Holly still has drugs- taken from a local gang. After dropping them in the cocktail; she accidentally takes a sip. The effects start to take a hold; leaving her sedate and ecstatic- a bizarre and brilliant animated sequence takes place (mixing Fantasia, stop motion, The Beatles and live action). As the girls make their way home on the tube, they see the depression of London life; the inequality as well as the beauty and fascination. As Holly finishes her day, arriving at the door of a chavy couple, Kate calls. Suddenly a master plan is struck, and the girls strike upon a way out of their problems.
Stefan and Dan have a heart-to-heart and asses the news. Stefan decides that he has been a disappointment to Kate, and decides to make a list; a sort of Bucket List, where he will do as much as possible- as well as achieve as many goals as possible.
The girls realise that Holly has stumbled upon an addictive and potent invention. The two set up premises in the empty basement of the kebab shop (opposite Holly and Dan’s flat), and come up with a name: Butterfly Kiss. The bottle design is stunning: it depicts a multi-coloured butterfly spreading its wings; there is a lipstick kiss in the middle (created by the girls kissing the bottle)- the drink itself is a green liquid. They recruit a group of followers who are all socially different. It refers to the effect the cocktail has where everyone- rich or poor- is levelled and equaled: everyone feels the same. It also refers to Wyoming, a U.S. state which is mountainous and sparsely-populated- the first state of America to give women the vote. It seems like a metaphor for their business, and how they customers will blend into London life.
As the police close in on Holly and Dan’s flat and the walls close in, Holly still uses her pull and power as a police officer to round up customers and make money and connections. Stefan and Dan begin a list of 30 ‘to-dos’ or tasks; starting with number 1- host a charity concert for Cancer Research. The two forget about work and life. Dan does not mention that his colleague made a pass, as well as his doubts about the wedding; Stefan does not let Kate know about his illness. Meanwhile neither girls mention their business venture, as well as Holly’s firing, and Kate’s doubts about motherhood.
The boys look through London- to recruit musicians. In a series of short vignettes, the two meet the perfect line-up:
They find Dave Grohl making hoax calls- he gets tired of being thought of (of) Rock’s ‘nice guy’- and has a seedy and dark private life- he also hosts an underground horse fighting ring. In exchange (for not calling the police) Dave is in- and agrees to drum for the night.
The boys find Muse at a local bar- with Stefan arguing with Matt Bellamy (the two have a heated debate about bubble-wrap. Matt assures the boys that Muse aren’t as wacky as the media make them out to be- until he pulls out a dead crow in a jar and sniffs it. The band agrees to halt work on the new album- about the plight of the British library system- to gig for the cause.
After that, the lads stumble upon Ellie Goulding. She is singing to injured children- that she has injured/run over. After Dan gets into a debate- he thinks she is Rita Ora (Ellie resents this until she explains they do share a her-and-her toilet). Ellie does the gig as part of community service.
After this, the boys go to Florence Welch’s house. Finding her in the middle of a drinking binge- she is addicted to Scottish Olive Oil- if you drink it in the night it makes you blind- she has to kick the habit. Her flat is strewn with empty bottles; she has a clear problem. Florence has also acquired quite a few cats and is spiraling out of control. The boys want to help and ask her to perform.
Before their big score, the boys find Thom Yorke- this sparks a huge physical fight between Thom and Stefan. When it calms down Thom explains he is in the middle of a marketing scam: marketing Creep-related productions. Thom is involved in an underground merchandise/fraud ring with local gangsters (The South Kensington gangsters aren’t as violent as they are cruel- Thom explains his famous-looking eye was caused by him being slapped by a wedge of imported Caribou cheese. Fearing the gang will ‘glaze his nipples’- (or as Thom explains “just the tip of a disturbing, yet strangely arousing, regime of brutality”), he is still mad at Stefan- until Stefan saves him (after a box of peacock feathers falls towards him- and instead takes out the cast of Made in Chelsea). Thom feels indebted and agrees to take part.
Just before the boys call it quits, they pass a protest- outside a shop called Plant & Page. It is emblazed in neon letters; the building is painted (in the style of Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy album cover). The protestors are in force- except for the odd few who seem to be at the wrong rally- and we pan inside the shop. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page have set up a gardening shop- the two wear gardener’s clothes. The two realise they have messed up- and blame each other- so Plant wails on Page- slamming his head against the stairway (to Hell). Page responds by sticking a hose up Plant’s posterior- his trousers fall down (revealing a staggering mid-section) – until they are interrupted. With the two still bickering- and revealing a few disturbing and unheard of rumours- they feel they need to get back into music- for one night only. They only wish John Paul Jones could be with them- until Dan reveals he is still alive (Plant and Page hide a series of photos and plans that reveal where John Paul is/what they have done). It seems everything is primed…
In the closing scenes, Kate and Stefan talk about the future, and possible abortion. Outside an inappropriately-named abortion clinic, as the rain lashes; the two realises that they want to stay together and need a future to hold onto. Knowing that each of their lives will be very different and turbulent, they continue as they are: making sure neither knows of each other’s fate. Natalie and Dan spend the night together; neither revealing truths, but promising to stick together. When the following night comes around, Kate and Holly are in the basement, surrounded by acolytes. In homage to Fight Club, Kate gives a speech; the mantra of the club and society:
The vile men that take the head of the world,
Break the mind and kill our kind
The women who break the mould will never ask
For an even mind
In spite of light the sun goes down
The world’s true nature is revealed
The poor are blinder, the rich control
The average are crushed under foot
The right to vote, the equality state
Every human on a level plain
In the openness of the midnight hour
We are all the same
Whilst mere mortals tell us they see some
And only remember a few
We feel everything
When eyes of the fools are closed and their idle dreams dance
We will rule- and they will hear us call
As the conclusion plays out, the girls find that they are being pursued. Kate has her colleagues, as well as some of her ‘faithful’ chasing her; angry at her betrayal and revaluation; as Holly finds that her flat is taken over by the police; keen to find her, as some disgruntled criminals also close in. Stefan has illness and fatherhood to think about (Thom Yorke drops the court case after Stefan saves his life), as Dan’s colleague announces her intentions- leaving each pair with much to ponder. The screen splits as each of the couples go separate ways. Stefan and Dan watch the concert unfold; and have a last heart-to-heart. Stefan persuades Florence to sing (to his unborn child) over the phone, in a touching scene- with Florence doing it under one special condition. Kate and Holly have a huge queue of customers, as word spreads. As the siren’s flash across the street and the flat is turned over, the girls both join hands and smile; realising that London will be changed, and that their lives will never be the same again. Dan and Stefan’s concert- from a coffee bar in Shoreditch- goes into the night; as the specially-composed song unites all the musicians- playing to an intimate crowd (the track, Candy Shop Blues- a stomping Blues-Rock number- unites each musician). Mirroring the first scene- in tribute of Memento- Stefan pulls his car outside a local tattoo parlour. There is mystery to why he is there (he has a note in hand with various information- he will tattoo onto himself); what is going to happen- setting up another cliffhanger, there is narration (from Stefan), as he delivers the line: “Now… where were we?” as there is an instant cut to the closing credits- as Radiohead’s National Anthem plays (it merges from the performed song near the end).
Notes and ideas:
Because there have been so few- good or successful- U.K. animated comedies, it is high time there was an attempt. At the moment, there are few comedies- from Britain- I watch- there is a bit of a dip at present. I want to write something with a U.S. sensibility; inspired by the likes of The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park, it will a very modern look to it- the same style of animation as The Simpsons (without the yellow people), and feature a great and varied cast. I have an idea for the main cast- two boys, two girls- and hopefully they will be in. The pilot will hopefully wet appetites for a full series. With cliffhangers and plot twists, the idea is to leave people wanting more- both A-story arcs have huge longevity and potential for growth. The series will see the girls with the power- transposing gender roles and making them the dominant duo. Parodying and (with) affection referencing Breaking Bad, the girls go all across London- and the U.K.- and get in all sort of adventures and scrapes. The boys go all across the world and bond; experiencing and achieving huge things. The reality of home life and reality never is far from the door; each couple comes together and keeps their other lives separate. In time, I hope to employ celebrity voices for episodes, but want to make sure the pilot gets made and received. If there is not an animation company in the U.K., it may be a case of going to the U.S. – or raising a Kickstarter campaign and getting it made privately.
The important aspect is the comedy. Inspired by classic Simpsons episodes- Lisa on Ice, Homer Badman, Marge vs. The Monorail, You Only Move Twice etc. – the aim is to have as many jokes per page- mix in fight scenes, chases; classic one-liners, emotional punch and plenty of visual jokes. Gorgeous animation, superb voice acting, and parodies (the opening episode would parody Made in Chelsea- where the cast get run down; Orange is the New Black- the dynamic of the series comes through with Holly and Kate, as they set up their business- in their orange jump-suits. Breaking Bad is the main parody/inspiration; Fight Club, Memento and The Royale Family are all in there.
– Kate Fagen, Additional Voices
Emilia Clarke- Holly Mercury, Additional Voices
Matt Berry- Stefan Buckley, Additional Voices
-Dan Bush, Additional Voices
Robert Plant- Himself
Jimmy Page- Himself
Kelly Reilly- Police Chief
Stephen Fry- Dan’s Dad
Thom Yorke- Himself
Ellie Goulding- Herself
Jameela Jamil- Sophie
Dave Grohl- Himself
Florence Welch- Herself
Metal & Dust- London Grammar
Electricity– The Avalanches
Wake Up Boo– The Boo Radleys
Freazy– Wolf Alice
The National Anthem- Radiohead