Despite centering around a woman in her 40s deciding whether she wants kids, Vagina Town is more about the nagging existential question of what to do with life at any given moment. It’s something everyone can relate to, regardless of gender identity.
“The way we like to put it is we wanted it to be a human story. Yes the characters are female, but the overarching theme of Vagina Town is human,” Director Jonathan Conti said.
The series follows Jenny, a physician assistant at an OBGYN’s office dealing with patients bringing life into the world, who is deciding if she wants to herself. There is more than fiction to Vagina Town, too. While the characters are not based on real people, the patient stories are completely genuine. One of the producers, Kathleen Anneke, works in an OBGYN office and shared some of the stories of working there to add a dose of reality to the show.
Vagina Town is filmed entirely in Boise and all of the actors are Boise-based. The first episode even featured a shot at Pengilly Saloon.
Conti said the issues and situations addressed in the show are serious and rarely laughed at, but Anneke suggested they see the comedy. In the pilot, a woman being examined in an a room at the doctor’s office exclaims, “f****** twins?!” when she finds out she’s pregnant with not one, but two kids. That was Anneke’s genuine reaction to having twins, and she suggested Conti write it in.
“Kathleen was like, ‘Hey these issues don’t have to be so dark and depressing,’” he said.
Conti is aware of the strange juxtaposition of him writing a show about women called “Vagina Town,” but he said it’s an every-person show, and he had some serious help writing it from Anneke. He said he’s credited as a writer because he was the one that put pen to paper, but it’s Anneke’s stories that inform the narrative. She is the driving force behind the name, too. Conti said she tells her kids she’s “off to Vagina Town” before leaving for work. After going back and forth on titles, he said that the crew kept coming back to Vagina Town.
Jennifer Stockwell, the actor who plays Jenny, said she and the other main character, played by Katie Preston, had planned a collaborative project with Conti for some time. Vagina Town sprang out of that naturally, she said. Their original idea was a spoof on one of the “Real Housewives” shows.
“It was going to be real housewives of Idaho City,” she said.
However, Anneke was telling stories about some odd happenings in her office. As a result, they decided telling the story of two OBGYNs trying to navigate life while dodging the weird things that happen to them would be funnier.
“It was just kind of a different take on something that hasn’t been written before,” Stockwell said.
To Stockwell, the story is relatable to viewers because it plays to base human emotions and desires.
“It’s the idea that we all as humans, we want to be wanted, we want a purpose in life, we want to be loved… it’s this character Jenny’s journey to find it,” she said.
Preston, who plays the strikingly funny yet supportive best friend, said the story is also about the passage of time. To her, that’s the most relatable aspect.
“I think just that struggle of time passing and wondering what you’re doing is something everyone can relate to,” she said.
Preston said she and Stockwell effectively goaded Conti into writing the story when they heard the idea. They even gave him a deadline, and he delivered, she said.
“I think it’s written really well. It’s funny and relatable,” she said.
The first season of Vagina Town, which wrapped in late 2019, is available on its website. The first episode is free, and the rest of the season costs $5.
There are plans in place for seasons to come, but that’s all contingent upon funding. For the first season, all actors were paid, which Conti, Stockwell and Preston said they were really proud of.
Right now, Conti said he and the others are hoping to get some of the money back before beginning to film another season.