Four years before "Southie Rules" and "Wicked Single" graced the nation's airwaves, casting what many consider to be a negative spotlight on the city, a self-proclaimed "artistic-type" started filming his own Boston-based reality sitcom, "Quiet Desperation."
Allston comedian Rob Potylo, 36, has been in the trenches of Boston’s artistic scene for a decade, but since 2009 he’s been the creative force behind "Quiet Desperation," a web series that he and his cohorts consider to be the answer to the rash of recent Boston-focused reality shows.
"It depicts some of the struggles that exist with being a creative type in an environment that caters to "Southie Rules," Aerosmith, Tom Brady and Dropkick Murphys," Potylo said of his series, which debuted its fourth season earlier this month.
"But there is a whole group of budding creative types, maybe not in the heart of Boston, but certainly in Brighton, Allston and Somerville... I think the larger corporate stations come up here and force these Southie Rules, Wicked Single-type shows down our throats, and think, 'It's Jersey Shore for Boston, that's what people want.'"
"Quiet Desperation" is riddled with banter, blazing bowls, and profanity, wrapped together with improvised comedy reminiscent of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
Although Boston's artistic community is at the heart of the show, the cast rarely misses a chance to poke fun at the plight of struggling artists.
"I just feel sometimes like Boston can be a very hostile environment for creative types trying to invent themselves... We use comedy and humor to show that," said Potylo, a self-described "bi-polar manic artist-type."
He's a hard one to miss, and it rarely seen without a bright, furry hat.
"God sort of jinxed me with the genes of my hairline – I don’t want to go down looking like a metal singer, and the hats are an extension of my personality. I’m a colorful character. I don’t want a chrome dome of emptiness top of my noggin."
The mockumentary-style series is shot inside his Everett Square apartment, which he shares with co-stars Christiana Celli, 29, her boyfriend Pete Jaquay, 32, and various other "squatters" who come and go.
"I'm playing myself, just different colors and spectrums of myself," said Celli, who, along with her Botticelli-esque curls, supplies some of Quiet Desperation's more dramatic scenes.
Celli is responsible for quotable gems like, "Don’t go all epileptic Muppet on me, okay? It’s time to discuss the gas bill," "This is not a squatter... This is Yan, and he has the eyes of a f—ing Indigo Child," and, “You look like you’re wearing a f—ing dirty old sponge from the God damn bottom of the God damn f—ing Charles River."
"I might be tapping into an old feeling when we're shooting, but it's all real. It's all me, just a little bit exaggerated," she said.
As for the future of the series, Potylo said he wants more exposure.
"If AMC or IFC got behind a show like Quiet Desperation with as much enthusiasm as Southie Rules, you'd see some really unique things happening; a renaissance."
For Celli, it's about getting her hometown the recognition she feels it deserves: "My goal here is to put Boston on the map in the way they did in the 80's in New York City, in the Lower East Side... but without the drugs."
Free episodes are available online: http://quietd.com/
Watch a recent episode, filmed during Nemo, below: