The 54th Chicago International Television Festival presented by Cinema Chicago held several screenings at the AMC on March 20-22. There were two sessions on the first nightone with Woke TV and the other with ABC's Roseanne.
Woke TV is spotlighting new, fresh LGBT content with web series that run the gamut on content. The T, Kissing Walls and Easy Abby all explore relationships, while Velvet surrounds an all-Black financial firm and Kappa Force tells the story of sorority superheroes.
Two of the stars from The T spoke with Windy City Times on the red carpet beforehand. Bea Cordelia, the co-creator and cowriter ( and a former Windy City Times 30 Under 30 honoree ) said, "The show is about two friends that used to date. One is named Jo, a white trans woman from the North Side and the other is Carter, a queer Black man from the South Side of Chicago. It is about love, family and hookups. Two shows that have influenced it are HBO's Looking and Insecureshows about people that have been marginalized. "
Daniel Kyri, who is also co-creator and co-writer, described The T as "a love letter to folks like us who have had to navigate the world as we are."
They just wrapped the last four episodes of The T the week before the festival. The full series will be released after June 22 on Open TV, with a premiere party at the Chicago Cultural Center on June 18.
Afterward, two episodes of reboot of the popular Roseanne television show were screened at the festival.
Executive producer Bruce Helford described Roseanne as something different than other recent television series reboots and Lecy Goranson, who is the original Becky from the show, followed that by saying, "It's better!"
Windy City Times asked about the LGBT storylines evolving over the years. Helford mentioned the first kiss between Mariel Hemingway and Roseanne Barr was groundbreaking, stating, "The Connors were always open to people who were not like them and embraced that. The show will continue to do this." He also confirmed that Sandra Bernhard would be on one upcoming episode.
Goranson spoke of her role in the movie Boys Don't Cry as the project that gives her the most pride.
She said she did not know Sara Gilbert was a lesbian in real life during the first run of Roseanne, but was not surprised. When she did find out, "I was there to support her, but not push her to come out publicly," Goranson said.
When asked if the two thought Roseanne Barr's support of President Trump on the show and in real life would be polarizing for audiences, Helford said, "It is exactly what we wanted to tackle head-on. For a struggling white working-class family, they would have gone [toward] anyone promising jobs. In the first episode, Jackie and Roseanne have not talked for almost two years because of the election. The idea was to get into the meat of it and not avoid it. Roseanne is not a blind follower of anybody. She has always defended women's right and gay rights. The show is not political, but really about the family."
Goranson added, "Roseanne is a populist. She's an advocate for the working class and the people that feel disenfranchised in our country. For her, it is important to have that represented, whether we like it or not. I hope people see Roseanne as a narrative where people grow and change. The character does not end where she starts as a Trump supporter. She goes through a journey during the course of this season."
Check out the iconic dysfunctional family returning Tuesdays on ABC beginning March 27.
The Chicago International Television Awards grew out of the Chicago International Film Festival as a stand alone event in 2016. Visit ChicagoFilmFestival.com/television-festival/ .