Online Comedy 'The Skinny' Attempts to Make Bulimia Funny

By McCarton Ackerman 02/17/15

Director Jessie Kahnweiler delves into dark territory with some surprisingly funny results.

Image: 
Jessie Kahnweiler
Kahnweiler in The Skinny. Photo via

Some of the biggest network shows have tackled taboo subjects like drug use and abortions, but a groundbreaking new comedy is looking to go one step further by having eating disorders serve as the center piece.

Jessie Kahnweiler, a 30 year old filmmaker from Los Angeles, has created a groundbreaking new series called The Skinny. She plays the role of a "feisty, free-spirited Jewish girl named Jessie" who struggles with bulimia. The show has an especially personal meaning for Kahnweiler, because she previously battled the eating disorder in real life.

"I didn't feel like I had a problem because I wasn't thin enough. Nobody did," she said in a Kickstarter video to raise funds for the project. "It's such a secret, personal thing; it was a mental thing...as someone who's had bulimia, nobody ever talks about it. And that's exactly why The Skinny needs to exist."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kahnweiler said that network executives were "repelled" when she pitched a show where eating disorders took center stage. Despite being turned down by everyone she spoke with, she has decided to push forward and is looking to raise $10,000 to cover the cost of post-production on the pilot, which will be released online this spring. She even cast a number of well-known actors for the series, including veteran TV actor Illeana Douglas.

Kahnweiler said she sought help for her eating disorder two years ago, shortly after telling a friend she had overcome her battle with bulimia and purging once she got home. Although in recovery, she admits to still struggling with food, but believes her own food issues make releasing The Skinny all the more essential.

"I'm not going to wait until I'm Gwyneth fucking Paltrow to talk about it. I look at people like Lena Dunham and Jill Soloway, and they're artists in that they're putting it out there, and they're not waiting until they have it all figured out to make films," says Kahnweiler. "Being bulimic, I would've loved to see a show of the reality of it on television. I would have loved to see it handled in a way with humor and reality and vulnerability. I would’ve loved to see the show when I was suffering alone."

You can donate on her Kickstarter page here.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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