Welcome to our series of posts on the amazing women of the Love in Los Angeles series. Starling and its sequel may be ostensibly about the relationship between two guys, but there are way more characters in the universe, and way more relationships than just the one between Paul and Alex.
In light of that, we want to give our women some love, because they are fabulous, fierce, fucked up people in their own rights. None of them are anybody’s sidekicks and all of them will call you out (some sooner than others) if you start treating them that way.
One of the first women you’ll meet is Gemma, Alex’s roommate and best friend. They met online while they were in high school — yes, they are fandom friends, though Alex will never cop to it — and bonded over the shows they both loved. Alex wanted to know about sound design and what kind of lens they used on the tight shots. Gemma wanted to be the star in front of the camera.
Gemma’s crush on Alex lasted exactly until the first time they ever Skyped. And as soon as she was over it, they hatched their plan. Alex wanted out of Paragon, Indiana as soon as he graduated so he could go to L.A. to make movie magic; Gemma, meanwhile, applied to and got in to college there, but knew she wasn’t planning to wait four years to start her acting career.
Graduating a few weeks before Alex, Gemma moved out to L.A., found them an apartment, got a waitressing gig, and promptly dropped out of college, keeping the tuition refund to live on. Her parents hit the roof, but she started going to auditions only to discover, much to her disgust, that most of the roles she was asked to read for were prostitutes or nail salon employees.
She and Alex didn’t meet in person until he knocked on the door at three in the morning several weeks later, having just completed his cross-country drive from Indiana. They didn’t even really talk until the next morning, because Alex passed out pretty much immediately on the terrible futon that passed for a couch.
Gemma spent the next day showing him around the neighborhood and convincing him that no, he really did need to open a bank account because keeping his cash in a sock at the bottom of a drawer was terrible choices.
Of course, then she had to explain how to open a bank account (“You can talk endlessly about film vs digital how the fuck have you never had a PIN number?”)
By the time Starling opens, Alex and Gemma have been roommates for two years and change. Alex is working as a P.A. and Gemma is still waitressing and auditioning. They’re closer than they’ve ever been, and Gemma is one of the few people in the world, aside from his mother (who you’ll meet in a few weeks), that Alex can actually stand spending extended amounts of time with.
Gemma is ambitious and persistent, and he respects that — among other things, so is he — even if the things they are ambitious about are very different.
When Starling opens they are what Gemma refers to as Only Partially Heterosexual Lifemates. Alex suspects this just confuses other people more, but has long since given up worrying about it.