'Not just a celebration': Creators of Avocado Toast the series talk sex, sexuality, and swinging
"There were no bi coming out stories for me to watch when I was growing up. I've never seen one."
Google the words 'Avocado Toast' and you'll get some recipes, Instagrams of tasty looking brunches, and some guy blaming the housing crisis on millennials.
Google the words 'Avocado Toast the series' though, and you'll get something a little different.
"It turned into quite an SEO nightmare," says producer and actor Heidi Lynch," but we're working on it."
For years, Heidi and fellow producer and actor Perrie Voss have been writing a series that reflects their own experiences of sex and sexuality, warts and all.
The web series, debuting on Amazon Prime next week, details the lives of Molly and Elle, two friends living in Toronto who have recently realised that everything they thought they knew about sex is, in fact, not everything there is to know about sex.
The narratives themselves are entirely based on truth, and ones that they felt were important to tell.
For Heidi, it was a bisexual coming out story - one that wasn't all encompassing of every single queer person's experience, but one that represented her own.
"I'm very straight passing but I'm in a queer relationship," she tells Her. "But when people see me with [my girlfriend] they think I'm a lesbian, and when I'm not with her, people think I'm straight.
"I think being bi is very hard for a lot of people and I've had a very easy ride of it, which comes with its own guilt sometimes."
Avocado Toast's portrayal of bisexuality is not a straight forward celebration. Like a lot of the community's experiences, it is peppered with confusion and uncertainty. There's also the pressure that often comes with settling on the term 'bi.'
Heidi says that despite never really naming her sexuality before, once she was working on the series she found herself forced into the bisexual category more often than not.
"I got pressured into labelling myself by making this show," she says. "Labels are not for me personally, but I understand the importance of them for many people.
"We did want to use the word 'bisexual' as much as possible because of the feedback we got when we made the original trailer and we didn't say the word.
"We received an education from the bi community who said they felt invisible and unseen. They said: 'If you're going to make a show about this, could you at least say the word?'"
It's Heidi's character, Molly, who does eventually say it herself, telling Elle that she did in fact fall in love with a woman while she was working in the UK.
Throughout the series, Molly goes through moments of shame and periods of not liking herself - an aspect of coming out that Heidi was adamant be included in the show.
"It's not just a celebration of bisexuality," says Heidi. "A lot of my queer friends were like: 'We need to move past the painful coming out story, there's more to queer experience!'
"And I totally agree with that, but there were no bi coming out stories for me to watch when I was growing up. I've never seen one.
"But I also wanted to take those comments and that influence and be like: 'Ok it doesn't have to be dictated by doom and gloom, how do we make someone coming out to their parents funny? And what if the parents trump the coming out story?"
And trump the coming out story they do. Avocado Toast isn't just about the sex lives of millennials - it's about the sex lives of their parents too.
As the series unfolds, Molly learns that her mother and father are actually swingers who throw sex parties, while Elle discovers that her own parents are getting a divorce - and are, unfortunately for her, ready to start dating again.
Elle's ordeal is based entirely upon Perrie's own real-life experience. She says that she and Heidi spent years writing the script, workshopping it, and figuring out how best to blend the two stories they both wanted to tell.
Telling a coming out story was important, but so was addressing the sex lives of an older generation - a fact that she was forced to face herself when her own mom and dad began seeing new people.
"My parents are very artsy, liberal kind of people, but they didn't have a really touchy relationship," she says.
"I had never seen my dad in a sexualised capacity, and I was like, what? I was like, you're on a date and you're whispering in her ear? Like, I can't. It's aggressive."
"Nobody wants to think about their parents having sex," adds Heidi. "Perrie was thrust into a situation where she had to because her dad started dating right in her face.
"She would come home and tell me these stories of what her dad was doing and she was disgusted and I was just stifling laughter so hard. It's so awkward, but the material coming out of those two situations is never ending."
Awkward it may be, but it's also refreshing. Avocado Toast doesn't approach sex as taboo subject, nor does it force every single sexual experience to be celebrated.
The series tackles sex for what it is; something that can be comforting but also confusing.
Perrie says that despite Avocado Toast's bold subject matter she does still, like most people, experience some level of embarrassment when it comes to sex.
"I definitely have a prudishness to me, I have a shyness about it," she says. "It's adjacent to my personality because I'm out spoken and I'm loud in lots of ways.
"It was weird to then write a show like this. We have this scene with Molly's parents using whips at the swingers party, and even though it was hilarious shooting that scene, my little prudish heart was still like, 'Oh, god.'"
The show isn't just about sex and who's having it with who, it's also about our attitudes towards intimacy and how they are shaped from an early age.
One of the series's more memorable scenes comes as Molly is forced to give a sex education class to a group of her students - a task that ultimately ends with her going rogue while struggling to not mention that she is currently having a sexuality crisis of her own.
Perrie and Heidi say that they wanted to address the issue of sex ed in Canadian schools, a system that still allows parents to opt their child out of the very necessary education.
"I don't think parents wants to be teaching their kids sex ed, and nor should they have to," says Heidi.
"I remember going around the room for my sex ed aged 10 and saying the word 'penis' out loud. Like what did that teach me, really?"
"I found that with the sex ed I received," adds Perrie, "there were elements that would have helped me out a lot more that just weren't covered. Like STIs and consent and other things like that.
"All I remember is learning abut my period and how to put a condom on a banana. That's all."
Avocado Toast the series will be streaming on Amazon Prime from May 18.