Premieres: Sept. 12 at 8pm ET/PT
Who’s In It? Bette Midler, Kaitlyn Dever, Dan Levy, Sarah Paulson, Issa Rae
What’s It All About? Playwright and screenwriter Paul Rudnick originally conceived of this project as a stage production, but when the COVID-19 crisis hit, the play evolved into a TV comedy shot entirely under quarantine conditions over the summer. Coastal Elites is a satirical exploration of five characters in physical isolation who are looking to connect with people in a world that has seemingly gone mad. Midler plays Miriam Nessler, an excitable New York City schoolteacher who finds herself in police custody. Dever’s character is Sharynn Tarrows, a Wyoming nurse who travels to New York to volunteer aid at a hospital during the height of the pandemic. Levy plays Mark Hesterman, a young West Hollywood actor who videoconferences a session with his therapist while in the midst of a personal and professional meltdown. Clarissa Montgomery (Paulson) is a YouTuber offering her followers some peace with her latest Mindful Meditations episode. And Issa Rae plays Callie Josephson, a well-connected philanthropist with contacts in the highest levels of government.
Midler confesses that Miriam, who compulsively reads The New York Times only to get worked up over the news, isn’t that far removed from her own life under lockdown. “I identified very, very strongly with this character,” Midler says. “I felt almost as if Paul had written it for me, because he knows how nuts I am on the subject of the current inhabitants of the White House. For me, it was cathartic, unfortunately not cathartic enough, because I’m still in a state of rage and anxiety.”