As far as Hannah Welever’s concerned, there are too many “quirky, meek, kale-eating white girl shows” on TV. So when the Pilsen-based director began work on web series with producer Ramone Hulet, also a Chicagoan, and writer Addison Heimann, who recently decamped for LA, she wanted something different. Specifically: crime-fighting sorority girls.
And so became Kappa Force, a wacky, empowering new web series premiering July 29 at the Logan Theatre (with a preview this weekend in New York). Written by Heimann during a bout of depression in 2015, the show follows a squad of superhero co-eds called Kappa Force. By day, they’re dweeby sorority girls. But by night, they combat an evil campus super villain called the Douche. Also among the recurring characters: a closeted jock, and a moody goth, and woman raised by her Olympian grandma.
Kappa Force comes at a time when socially pointed web series like Brown Girls and Brujos are paving the way for filmmakers outside of the mainstream. And though the series leans on familiar college tropes—the weird roommate, fratty meatheads, and binge-drinking—it also subverts those stereotypes. The sorority girls are a diverse bunch—across race, sexuality, and gender, deeply human in their quirks and flaws. “It’s a world I want to live in,” says Heimann, "but one that doesn’t quite exist yet in mainstream television.” When his characters aren’t thwarting made-for-TV villains, they’re navigating the mundanities of young adulthood, from self-esteem to digestive issues.
The show is plenty of fun, too. Heimann drew on his childhood favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer while writing. Hulet describes the series’ final visual aesthetic Power Rangers-meets-Charlie’s Angels. (It comes out in the protagonists’ very bright, shiny costumes, designed by stylist Laura Gordon.) “The show is reflective of the times," says Welever, ”but it also draws on a lot of references we all blindly absorbed as kids.”
Adds Heimann: “My goal from the get-go was to make sure people laugh—but everybody, not just a certain kind of person. I wanted to create a world that was queer positive and diverse—and, while we’re at it, entertains the hell out of you for 45 minutes.”
Kappa Force has its Chicago premiere on July 29 at Logan Theatre, 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets.