Josh Thomas on the shows he's made and the podcast he may never finish
Through Everything's Gonna Be Okay and Please Like Me, the Australian creator is telling fresh stories about LGBTQ people.
Josh Thomas has broken new ground with both of the shows he's created.
Please Like Me was a quirky, beloved comedy about a young gay man in Australia also named Josh. It delved very deeply into complex subject matter, including mental health, while telling the oftentimes humorous stories about Josh and the people in his life. His current series, Everything's Gonna Be Okay, follows a pair of sisters and their half brother (played by Thomas) as they grieve their father. Through Kayla Cromer's performance as Matilda, an autistic teen, Thomas' comedy has adding to the stories being told on TV. From her hilarious eulogy for her father to the exploration of complex topics like consent, Matilda's incredibly nuanced and humorous arc is how Thomas is leaving a legacy behind with his newest series.
Both shows have a few things in common, including being excellent shows and increasing the number of LGBTQ characters that exist on TV. We spoke to Thomas about his Freeform comedy, the LGBTQ stories he finds fascinating, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: As a creator, between Everything's Gonna Be Okay and your first series, Please Like Me, what aspects of LGBTQ life were important for you to include?
JOSH THOMAS: It's nice to be able to show a variety of people. When it comes to underrepresented groups, you want to show a variety of people, so it doesn't seem like you're saying this one version is what a gay [person] is.
My first show was just based on me. I never really considered how that character was going to fit into the media landscape. I was just trying to make a show, and I'm gay, and I was in the show.… It's in [the past] decade where, at the beginning, it was so hard. And now queer characters are easy, and not hard to convince people to do. Like, they are accepted, and accepted by not queer people.
What types of stories about the LGBTQ community do you hope to tell?
I want [LGBTQ characters] to be treated the same way I treat all my characters — I want them to feel like whole, specific people who have good things about them and bad things about them. I don't think about my characters' sexuality, and when I'm watching other shows, I don't think about it unless it's bad.
Do you have any dream projects you want to get made?
I'm doing it. This new season of my show, I wanted to explore different kinds of sexual identities other than being gay, which is where I always come from, because that's how I identify. I wanted to do that, and I did this season, and I don't have any ideas beyond this season.
I feel like Americans always expect you to have this five-year plan, these dreams, and these places you want to go. But I just have the week.
Are there any real-life LGBTQ icons whose stories you want to tell?
There's so many cool people [in] the generation above me that were such trailblazers. I'm interested in it because I feel like, for me, I kind of forgot that being gay can be challenging.
Very slowly, over the last year, [I've been] collecting interviews for a podcast that I'm never gonna finish. One day, I'm gonna finish it. It's a lot of conversations with gay people about different challenges. [The] central theme of [almost] every single conversation is trying to figure out, like, living through the peak of HIV, I spoke to some refugees who fled Chechnya, and people in American who had to move from small towns to big cities even though they didn't any money. It is all fighting for the opportunity to love.
So often the conversation about being queer is very sex-focused, right? It's right there in the word homosexual. The heart of the struggle for queer people, when it comes down to it, is just trying to find the opportunity to love somebody and be loved. And the epic quests that our people have had to go on.
Who's an LGBTQ artist that inspires you?
I really like Olly Alexander on Instagram. He does those videos where he's Hula-Hooping.
To read more from EW's 2021 Pride Issue, order the June issue of Entertainment Weekly — with covers featuring Lil Nas X, Mj Rodriguez, Bowen Yang, and Lena Waithe — or find it on newsstands now. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.