Revenge is powerful, but short-lived. For the amount of energy it takes to pull off, it just doesn’t have the shelf life and gratification you’d expect. That’s where Cassandra French’s Finishing School comes in. AUDIENCE’s latest comedy explores what happens when a jilted lover take matters into her own hands. Sure their methods may be unconventional, but Cassie (Jessica Renee Russell) and best friend Claire (Brooke Markham) are making serious headway with their captive audience of one, Owen (Calum Worthy). Intrigued? We sure were, so we sat down with the cast to find out just what kind of craziness viewers are in store for—read our exclusive interview below! Watch the season finale of Cassandra French’s Finishing School, Friday, April 7th at 10:30/9:30c only on AUDIENCE (Ch. 239), and catch up on the whole season On Demand.
What can you tell us about the premise of the show, and your character specifically?
Jessica Renee Russell: Cassie has a string of bad relationships, and in an attempt to liberate her heartbreak, she has a one night stand with Owen. Owen decides to live stream them having sex without consent, and in a moment of irrational clarity, Cassie knocks him out and ties him up. Cassie has a huge heart and is very nurturing at her core, but is also fed up with being burned and not being treated fairly. With that emotional combination, Cassandra French’s Finishing School is born!
Brooke Markham: Yeah, Cassie hasn’t had much success in the relationship department. Her most recent breakup has left her quite distraught, so she naturally, turns to her best friend/roommate, Claire (aka me) to conquer her sadness around the breakup. So when Cassie wakes up the next morning after her fling with Owen to find that he’s live streamed them having sex things get serious. Through a series of altercations and “Oh shit, what do we do” planning, Cassandra and Claire decide to chain Owen up in their basement in hopes of teaching him how to be a better man.
Calum Worthy: Well I play Owen… who is chained up in her basement. He’s a dude who doesn’t know how to respect women. Well, there’s a lot more to him than that but you have to watch the show to find out!
This seems like pretty interesting territory to play in thematically—what have you enjoyed the most about working on this unusual project?
BM: Honestly, the thing I’ve enjoyed the most about this project are the people involved in it. Everyone is fearless and willing to push boundaries. It’s somewhat “anything goes” territory, and that’s been very exciting. We all trust and love each other, which creates a very safe environment to play and make really bold choices.
JRR: I think we get to live out a lot of dark pipe dreams in this series. We attack a very relevant subject in a literal way. I think every woman has had fantasies of the things they would do to a guy that’s done horrible things to them. We get to live out those fantasies. Our heightened universe in the show allows us to push boundaries to the max.
CW: While filming this project I definitely developed a new sense of awareness. I believe I am a “good guy” and treat women with a great deal of respect. Hell, I’d even call myself a feminist—if it’s appropriate to say so. However, there is a scene in particular where Brooke delivers a beautiful monologue about how often men body shame women. It really gave me a greater understanding of how hurtful men can be and how much pressure there is for women to be “perfect.” I started crying during the scene… which I really wasn’t expecting. The roles were reversed and she analyzed and judged every part of my body. I started tearing up! Which again, I wasn’t expecting. It just really hit me how often I have witnessed men say inappropriate things to women without even giving it a second thought. It’s not right. Men have a lot of learning to do.
What are you most looking forward to viewers seeing in this first season, and what would you say is the hook that will keep viewers coming back for more?
CW: Viewers will come for the comedy, but stay for the characters. While the show deals with some heavy subject matter it is 100% a comedy—and a hilarious one! When you watch this show you will see yourself or one of your friends in all of these characters.
JRR: I hope our viewers, woman especially, feel empowered. Given our current political climate, woman are having to stand up more and more and say, “NO. HEAR ME ROAR!” We put a magnifying glass on that issue—women standing up for themselves. I’m not saying every gal out there should tie a guy up in her basement when he wrongs her (definitely please don’t do that), but I hope it makes females feel fearless. Standing up for yourself is sexy.
We take so many dark twists and turns in the show. I think viewers will keep coming back because just when they think they’ve got it figured out, we’ll flip everything on it’s head. The relationships are so complicated, and that’s an exciting thing to watch!
BM: The journey all these characters go on is so thrilling, and I’m very excited for the viewers to get on board. This show sends the message to respect and not objectify women. We aren’t dolls, we are not toys to toss about as you please. We are strong and independent with a powerful voice to stand up and ask for what we want and deserve. If you can’t get on board with that, then it’s our job as women to help make that change. Maybe not in such an extreme way as Cassie and Claire do in the show, but a movement for change nonetheless. It’s already happening in the world, and hopefully this show is another catalyst for that movement.
If you could impose basic rules around behavior to society at large, what would be your “Top 3 Rules for Being an Awesome Human Being?”
CW: 1) Don’t let labels blind you from seeing the good in people. 2) Approach every situation with love. 3) Live for today and order that second round of chips and guacamole!
JRR: 1) Be mindful of what you put out into the universe. 2) Be receptive of gifts from the universe. 3) Don’t be an asshole.
BM: 1) Be kind and respectful to yourself. 2) Be kind and respectful to others. 3) Go on as many adventures as you can!