Environmental Drama Takes a Fresh Look at Going Green


Having finally emerged from a winter that made my hometown of Pittsburgh resemble a scene from the film Doctor Zhivago, I’m not inclined to put Al Gore’s dire warnings about global warming at the top of my worry list. As Los Angeles writer Jennifer Ginsberg puts it, with Iran on its way to acquiring nuclear weapons, are plastic bags actually the gravest threat to our way of life?

And yet, assuming there is a long run, we don’t want the free world overrun with landfills, do we? Hence this post will be dedicated to a TV pilot that has made me a little less inclined to roll my eyes each time I sort through my trash, attempting to penetrate New York City’s Byzantine recycling rules. 

The pilot, “Life Without Green,” billed by its producers as “an environmental television drama,” chronicles the efforts of a young Jewish woman to keep her life together after her fiancée disappears under a cloud of suspicion. But what’s unique about the pilot, which was screened at last weekend’s Boston Film Festival, is its irreverent, politically incorrect approach to that most politically correct of topics: going green.

“It’s environmental and ‘green,’ a pilot for a show that makes environmental concerns an ongoing theme, “ says Executive Producer Abby Phon (pictured above), a New York-based actress who also plays the pilot’s main character. “But the writer approached it with humor … poking fun at certain kinds of environmental efforts.”

I found the plot suspenseful and was amused to watch the show’s protagonist, Rachel Singer, the newly appointed director of Boston’s newly created (and fictitious) Office of Economic and Environmental Innovation, struggle to uphold her office’s own rigid standards of environmental correctness in the face of a pugnacious news media.

(Amusing moments include a reporter’s ambush of Singer’s assistant with information that Singer was spotted using Styrofoam coffee cups. The best line in the pilot follows Singer’s questioning of her assistant as to whether he is sleeping with a co-worker: “Someone should be sleeping with someone. Otherwise I’ve failed to create a comfortable working environment.”)

It’s fun to watch the staffers struggle to uphold their own environmental standards with crumby but environmentally correct supplies, such as facial tissues that fall apart and tape that fails to hold posters onto walls. 

The pilot’s drama concerns the disappearance of Singer’s fiancée (aptly named ‘Green’) who vanishes shortly before they are to be married. Singer attempts to preside over a press conference launching the new city office while dealing with her own anxiety and dread over her fiancee’s disappearance.

The Boston Film Festival showcased 100 films out of 2,000 submitted for entry. Honored to have had their pilot, which has been endorsed by actor and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr., selected, Phon and Roberts are standing by to find out whether “Life Without Green” will win.

Phon tells me future episodes will explore the intersection between city politics and the gambling underworld.

“The green movement has fortunately caught the attention of almost everyone, from politicians to people on the street,” she says. “It’s incredibly exciting to launch this new show in these challenging economic and environmental times.”

Life Without Green trailer is available here.

Life Without Green is on Facebook.

Life Without Green is on the Internet Movie DataBase.

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