Interview | Rosanna Arquette on Dating in the Digital Age & New Show 'Sideswiped'

The Comedy Legend Discusses Her New YouTube Red Show, Toxicity in the World and #MeToo

Arquette addresses womanhood, empowerment, and supporting each other.

The digital space has completely upended human interaction. From Twitter and Facebook to such dating apps as Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and OKCupid, how we seek connection, friendships, romance, and hookups has vastly shifted from where it was even five or ten years ago. It's a tricky business, and comedy icon Rosanna Arquette, now the star of YouTube Red's humorous but grounded new show Sideswiped, has a few thoughts on the matter. "Everybody seems like we're connecting, but it has actually made it less intimate," she tells Popdust over a recent phone call.

The impact of immediacy has also drastically changed the role of cell phones in our everyday lives. "All the young people just text. What happened to just picking up the phone and having a conversation? I find even with my own friends, you know, all they do is text. I really miss having long conversations with my girlfriends," Arquette laments, a tone of sorrow lacing her voice.

"It takes the text to get you to the dinner where finally you can catch up. I'm old-fashioned, and this is definitely not my generation. People think they're so connected, but they're actually a lot more disconnected than ever," she says. "Although, I have to say there's a really amazing group of people. I have a few groups that I'm involved with, politically, and within the #MeToo movement. I know a lot of women, and we're all connected in that way. So, that's helpful to have those chats."

Alongside show creator and co-star Carly Craig, Arquette goes for the jugular with some of her most biting wit. Quick plot synopsis: her husband has died, and she must plunge into a new world as an independent, carefree, remarkable woman. The hitch is she's never had the freedom to explore not only the world but her own identity. Who is she really? "She's a housewife who had never dated. She just got married and pregnant and had two kids. She is left with nothing and moves in with her daughter," explains Arquette. "They're all embarking on this dating app world. She's kind of enjoying the freedom to be herself."

Optioned for an eight-episode first season, Sideswiped marries truth with hilarity in ways that stay true to character work, allowing the cast, which also includes Craig Frank, to play, to live, to love, to make mistakes. Coincidentally, Arquette does see a bit of her own life within her character's season arc. "What I am close to is I have gotten married and always been with somebody. I was never really a girl that played the field," she says. "For instance, I've never really was a dater. I just was always with one person. I was always monogamous. When you're in your 20s, you have little moments, but I never experienced that. I would definitely be afraid to go on a dating app."

Below, Arquette discusses Sideswiped's themes of womanhood and empowerment, working with Carly Craig, the #MeToo movement and educating men on what constitutes flirting versus assault.

You've been doing a promo tour for a little bit and talking about your character, Mary. What other parts of yourself do you see in her?

There's not a lot of me in there except that she she likes rock 'n roll. I have a poster in my room with Tom Petty, who is a great friend of mine and he had just passed away when we started shooting. So, I really wanted a Tom Petty poster in my room.

Dating apps are really just a very different, weird world these days.

I think it is, too. Carly really did meet her guy that she's with. It's a great match, and they're really in love. She really didn't meet him that that way. I think there are some great success stories, but then, I'm sure there are some scary ones. I hope we get to explore those things, too.

You previously talked about how this character Mary has this big breakthrough for herself. What is her story arc in the first season?

She starts off just really not knowing how to be by herself and just be a woman on her own. She doesn't even know how to work. She's just not educated. She starts to want to learn and want to grow and wants to be powerful in her own right -- to learn these things and stand on her own two feet without a man taking care of her or her daughter taking care of her to be comfortable in her own skin and being able to take care of herself.

We see many people out there pounding and taking care of themselves. It's a hard world more than ever now. Mary is one of the people trying to make it a better place. She is pretty much a narcissist. She thinks about herself more than anybody at this point, but hopefully, she'll evolve it. She never got to think about herself. So, when she was always thinking about the husband and the kids and everything, and then suddenly she goes, "I get to think about myself?" She goes a little too far in that. [laughs]

In an interview with AOL Build, you spoke about how in-between takes you were having conversations with women about their experiences in the world and the business. What conversations impacted you the most, personally?

Everybody shared this experience. Some of the women were raped. There's a lot of stuff coming out right now that people are trying to discredit the movement, which is horrible. All the truth will come out. I was very supportive of a lot of the women and helped get their story told to Ronan Farrow, and it was right in the thick of it. When we were filming, we were dealing with so much around the abuse of power. There are powerful people in Hollywood, not only Mr. Weinstein, but many other people who abuse their power to get sex or abuse women and boys and girls.

Unfortunately, it's not just Hollywood, God knows. We're seeing it everywhere, and women are saying, "No, we've had enough of that, and we're not going to do that. This is not OK for us, our daughters, our children, not going to do." This is a paradigm shift. That's what's happening. It is a shift in consciousness. There is going to be a lot of anger. When it takes a lot to make real change, there's a lot of resistance.

Touching on our conversation earlier here, it's great we do live in a world with social media. Awareness on social issues moves so much faster than it used to.

It does. But then the fake news narrative has happened. Now, people are not believing things that are actually really true. That's really frightening. On one hand, we're in a really dark time, and then on the other hand, we've got these little grassroots movements. People like the Parkland students, who I find are really incredible, just watched their friends be slaughtered in front of them right before they were graduating. They then created this movement in their grief. I look to these students and young people. They're our future.

That's how I felt about these women in this movement. We were one of the first to come out. Of course, Tarana Burke created the movement 16 years ago. But our stories brought it to the forefront, so that she was able to do the work that she was meant to do in the world. She's a powerhouse.

Through those conversations, do you feel you have come to a greater understanding of what womanhood means and what it means to support each other?

It's so important right now more than ever to support each other. I don't turn my back on people because they're having stuff going on. I don't believe in that. I stand firm in my belief in this movement. I do have to say that trauma, and when someone is raped and traumatized, certain behaviors will manifest themselves into continuing that in their own lives until they heal. It's a huge wound that happens to women. You'll see people, girls who have been raped, and then you see them acting out sexually in a way that puts him in danger. That's from the abuse. That's what happens.

As a culture, we have to try to shift and change how people heal. It's about healing right now. We have to heal this. We have to help heal the sick society that thinks it's OK to lock up and abuse children and women. When you see it that it seems to be OK as far up in the White House and that it's OK to pay off a porn star, what is that saying? It's OK to grab a woman's private parts. When the President talks like that, what message are we sending?

In that same conversation, some men often get defensive and spout nonsense like, "So, we can't even flirt anymore?!"

This is where we all are learning how to come into the middle. On one hand, you have rape and abuse. On the other hand, you have really subconscious dumb behavior. It's like frat boy behavior. It's about educating men to actually be gentlemen. Then, when you have instant access to crazy porn sites that are just...wow. Poor girls feel like they have to do this, and the boys think they have to perform like that. Then, it gets darker and darker and darker. You start to have rape then on college campuses.

With the release of Sideswiped, do you feel it came at a great time to showcase themes of power in womanhood and support?

Oh, yeah. It's perfect timing. I really look forward to the second season because I think we're going to be exploring all these themes. We're going to go deeper into things. It's not just about girls having sex every day. It's about finding love and connection. That is really what everybody is searching for.

You are a legacy act in the comedy world. What did you come to learn from Carly Craig on this show?

I mean, she's a great writer, but I've always had my own timing in comedy. She's really good with timing. I love comedies that come from the truth, not the slap-stick kind. She comes from a real place. That's the comedy I like to do.

Later in the season, you go on quite a number of dates. Do you have any favorite dating scenes?

We had some really fun, great actors that came on the show. We had Chris MacDonald and Rick Springfield. When we were shooting, I said something like, "I can't believe I'm here with Rick Springfield!" But I had said "Rick Springsteen" by accident. [Laugh] It was really funny. We also had Peter Gallagher. I think all of them were good. I can't even pick a favorite because they were all wonderful actors to work with. I think Mary had a great time with Rick Springfield.

What do you want for Mary in season two?

I want to see her really be independent and comfortable. I want her to get out of her daughter's home and move. I mean, we do see that and then see her thrive and maybe go back to school or learn a skill. I want her to better herself and know that her voice matters. That's what we're all trying to do ⎯⎯ everybody's voice matters.

Follow Rosanna Arquette on Website | Twitter | Instagram


Jason Scott is a freelance entertainment journalist with bylines in B-Sides & Badlands, Billboard, PopCrush, Ladygunn, Greatist, AXS, Uproxx, Paste and many others. Follow him on Twitter.


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