HBO Max has begun handing out orders for new pilots, and one of them has gone to a 17 year old. Zelda Barnz is the creator of Generation, a dramedy following high school students who explore modern sexuality and have their beliefs about love, life and family tested due to living in a conservative community.
The show was created due to Zelda’s desire to see her generation represented honestly, instead of with a sensationalist bias. This concept echoes that of Lena Dunham, who created HBO comedy series Girls to portray twenty-something women in an honest and authentic way.
Zelda is the daughter of Daniel and Ben Barnz, the filmmakers behind Cake, and she is working alongside Daniel to write and direct the show. Meanwhile, Lena Dunham will act as executive producer. Speaking on Instagram, Zelda said: ‘I am so incredibly grateful for all the opportunities that have presented themselves to me over the past three years. I have wanted to tell stories from the minute I could talk. This is everything.’
Before writing Generation, Barnz wrote a piece for zine Girl Talk in summer 2017, where she reflected on being catcalled by a man as a young teenager as she walked home from the beach.
The first teen drama on HBO, Euphoria, is currently about to enter its second season. It focuses on a 17 year old called Rue – played by Zendaya – who struggles with substance issues. It’s written by Sam Levinson, who based Rue’s recovery on his own addiction issues.
Another teen drama involving a teenage writer is E4’s Skins, where Daniel Kaluuya – who was 18 at the time – was one of the writers. From north London, Kaluuya – who also plays Posh Kenneth in the show – said: ‘What’s great about Skins is that the characters are exactly like people around you. If I was at school and one of my friends said something funny, I’d write it down in a notebook and take it to the writers meetings. I never told my friends about it. I just thought I could incorporate stuff that was true to life.’
Generation isn’t the only pilot HBO Max has ordered. Other projects include The Rules of Magic, from Marvel’s Jessica Jones writer Melissa Rosenberg, and Red Bird Lane, from Southland writer Sara Gran.
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