With her new web series Do Better, Amie Darboe is living a childhood dream. “Essentially I’ve been writing since I was probably 7,” she says. “[I] always knew I wanted to write for TV, but I didn’t do anything about it until I was an adult.”
Darboe says the show was inspired by her college friendships. “Just one night I was thinking about my college group of friends, which was predominantly black and Asian people,” she says. “And just how that experience was so vastly different from my experience in Austin.”
She already had several unproduced pilot scripts in her portfolio, she says, but this one seemed to resonate more for her. “Something about this story moved me enough that I decided that I actually wanted to make it,” Darboe says. “And so it [was] a good opportunity for me to learn how to produce and put something together and that’s how it became a web series.”
Though it’s set in Oakland, Do Better was filmed in Austin (the series was filmed in 2018 but post-production was completed this year). Darboe says the show was largely inspired by the ‘90s sitcoms she grew up watching. “There was a lot of Black content, particularly around sitcoms, in the ‘90s,” she says. “So I grew up seeing Black people on TV all the time, but then there was a hiatus in the early 2000s, and then now it’s coming back.”
Darboe says that while there are sitcoms on the air now that feature primarily Black or Asian casts, she doesn’t see a lot of content where they interact with each other, and that’s something she really wanted to see reflected on a TV screen. “For me,” she says, “it was like how do I bring these two communities together that are so important to me but also aren’t necessarily seen as allies?”
Though the show was largely inspired by the sitcoms of her youth, Darboe says she likes to classify Do Better as a dramedy rather than a straight comedy.
“I find that [in] dramedies, the characters actually tend to make a lot more progress than the sitcom characters,” she says. “Because [in] sitcoms, it’s a reset button at the top of the episode.”
She’d like her characters to have room for growth and change as the show goes on; in fact she’s hoping to write season two this summer and, if possible, create the sort of TV writers’ room that she dreamed of working in as a kid. She wrote season one by herself but wants more input from different voices for season two. “What I want is to create a writers’ room, especially to have all the other voices. Like, there are queer characters in our show. I want queer writers on our team, I want Asian writers on our team, just to be able to diversify the perspective,” she says.
“The primary mission of the show is just to center marginalized voices,” Darboe says. “Because a lot of times, I find that when I see black or [other] people of color on TV, it’ll have been written by people who aren’t us. I want to center these voices but also get the story right.”