How Snapchat’s New Comedy About a Bipolar College Student Landed Pete Wentz as Music Director

·4 min read

Snap’s newest original series is comedy “Everything’s Fine,” a very personal (and very funny) exploration of what it’s like to have bipolar disorder.

Series creator and writer Hannah Klein based “Everything’s Fine” on her experiences after she received a bipolar diagnosis a few years ago, and she said music plays a central role in the story. Her “dream of dreams,” she said, was to have Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz come on board as the series’ music director — and, to her surprise and delight, he readily joined the project.

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“Emo music was this big way of talking about mental health for me,” Klein said. “I have been a huge fan of [Wentz] for my entire life. He was a huge reason I was comfortable delving into mental health work.”

“Everything’s Fine” premieres May 22 on Snapchat Discover, with all 10 episodes dropping on Saturday, timed for Mental Health Awareness Month. The scripted comedy is produced by Paul Feig’s Powderkeg and directed by Lizzy Sanford.

Wentz, who in addition to the show’s music director serves as executive producer, said he gets a fair amount of over-the-transom pitches. “Usually when I get sent stuff, it’s too on the nose — like, it’s about a guy in a punk band — or it feels ‘After School Special’-y,” said Wentz, a well-known mental health advocate.

“Everything’s Fine,” according to Wentz, was different. “I was laughing out loud when I was reading it… but there were moments in it that were also very relatable,” he said. “Most people have a version of this kind of journey — that stuck out to me.” He met with Klein and felt a creative connection. “One of the strategies for me was magnifying her vision and helping the creative force stay nimble,” Wentz said.

“Everything’s Fine” follows Gemma (played by Dylan Gelula), an overachieving college junior with big plans to kill it in the music industry, as she learns to cope with a new bipolar diagnosis. Gemma sometimes handles her mental condition well, but sometimes things go disastrously. The cast includes Ian Owens (Hulu’s “Shrill”), who plays Gemma’s psychiatrist.

Fall Out Boy songs in the series include “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy” and “I’m Like a Lawyer With the Way I’m Always Trying to Get You Off (Me & You).” Wentz said he tried to avoid using his band’s music but in some cases he found himself agreeing with Klein that a specific Fall Out Boy track was the best fit for a given scene. Said Klein, “I had songs pre-chosen for the script.”

The soundtrack of “Everything’s Fine” also includes music from Alanis Morissette, Machine Gun Kelly and other artists, with an original score by Wentz and Ryland Blackinton of Cobra Starship.

Klein said she began writing the script for “Everything’s Fine” when was was a writer on TBS comedy “The Detour.” The original script for the pilot came in at 45 pages. “I was writing this just for myself,” Klein said. “I had recently gotten diagnosed with bipolar for the first time, and I was trying to see what was my personality in reality and what was the disorder.”

The series was shot in L.A. last October and November following COVID production protocols.

Feig, an executive producer on “Everything’s Fine,” said in a statement provided by Variety, “Hannah’s unique pitch to create a show that spotlights mental health grabbed us. Her vision to use humor and pop-punk music as a window to the main character’s experience drew us in and naturally led us to Pete. As an outspoken advocate himself, he came on board with the perfect plan to make that happen. And to be able to reteam with Lizzy Sanford, whose confident and inventive directorial style brought this show to life for Snap, was the perfect piece to complete this Powderkeg original.”

On Snapchat, “Everything’s Fine” will feature swipe-ups that provide viewers access to mental health resources at the end of each episode. “I worked really hard on that swipe-up screen,” Klein said. “We used more colloquial language than you sometimes see… You don’t have to be ‘struggling’ with something. You can just be curious about it.”

Klein originally imagined the series would be a conventional half-hour format. Once “Everything’s Fine” was picked up by Snap, she was surprised how much story they were able to pack into each 5- to 6-minute episode. “I assumed I would have lost a lot, but I don’t think I lost anything,” she said. “It became this fast-paced experience.”

When she got her bipolar diagnosis, Klein felt like there weren’t many cultural depictions of people with mental health disorders that she could relate to. “There’s a renewed interest in authenticity and authentic storytelling in the generation below me, Gen Z,” Klein said. “I just hope I’m able to give them something I didn’t have.”

Watch the trailer for “Everything’s Fine”:

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