- Facebook/Beck Media
- “Sorry for Your Loss” is the latest series to hit Facebook Watch, and one of its most acclaimed with Elizabeth Olsen in the lead as a grieving widow.
- Olsen, who is also an executive producer on the show, talked to Business Insider about the three-year process to get it made and why going with Facebook was the right choice.
Tuesday marks a major leap for Facebook Watch as it debuts one of its most high-profile TV series yet.
Starring Elizabeth Olsen, “Sorry for Your Loss” takes a look at one woman dealing with grief after her husband’s shocking death. Also starring Kelly Marie Tran (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) and Mamoudou Athie (“Patti Cake$”), the 10-episode half-hour series was able to get some incredible talent behind the camera as well with James Ponsoldt (“The Circle”), Allison Anders (“Sex and the City,” “The L Word”), Jamie Babbit (“But I’m a Cheerleader”), and Azazel Jacobs (“Mozart in the Jungle”) all directing episodes.
But in many ways Olsen is the face of the project. Along with playing the grieving widow, Leigh, she jumped on as an executive producer after being given the script to the pilot three years ago. She said she was involved in every facet of production, from sitting in on the edits to going over to the composer’s house to check in on the show’s score.
“I am a micromanager, so it’s really hard for me to be so involved with something for it not to be [completely] my own creation, because it’s not,” due to its collaborative nature, Olsen told Business Insider over the phone. “It was draining because you’re exhausted being on set and then go home for the weekend and give notes on past edits and future episodes. It was really an intense amount of time.”
The work paid off, however. “Sorry for Your Loss” is as well-crafted a show as anything the major networks put out, and Olsen delivers a performance that is raw and at times shockingly comedic that keeps you sucked in.
It was toeing that line between drama and dark comedy that drew Olsen in, as well as the challenge of being involved as a producer for the first time in her career (on her first-ever series). And she certainly learned a lot.
- Facebook/Beck Media
Olsen was involved with the pitch of the show around Hollywood, and was deep in the development process with the show’s creator, playwright Kit Steinkellner, and Big Beach, the production company behind it, when it was at Showtime for a brief period.
The big revelation Olsen found in the pitch process was how much they had to explain the cycle of grief beyond just the story they wanted to tell on the show. She said reading multiple times Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking,” an account of the year following the death of the author’s husband, helped in making executives understand what they wanted to do with the show.
“Sorry for Your Loss” finally found a home at Facebook Watch in January, leading to a breakneck production with post wrapping just a week and a half before it had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Looking back, Olsen couldn’t be happier with the show being on Facebook, she said. The social community aspect makes it easier for people to instantly continue the conversation on topics like grief and loss after watching episodes (though Olsen admits, for her own good, she will not be reading the comments section).
And Olsen said she’s definitely caught the producing bug after doing this.
In many ways she sees the business right now as “the Wild West,” as she put it, because with streaming there are now so many avenues to get content out. But she said it still comes down to finding projects that have the right stories and great characters.
But in regards to the nuts-and-bolts of being a producer, Olsen said doing the show cemented the importance of being on set.
“This really was a learning process,” Olsen said. “Doing TV and having rotating writers and directors, it was really nice to be the most consistent person on the set. You really need a leader, and that to me is the most important thing going forward.”