Fleur Tashjian, Daisy May Cooper and Jack Farthing in Rain Dogs
Cash Carraway's True Grit
The creator of HBO's Rain Dogs mines a challenging background for her first TV series.
Cash Carraway never doubted that she would make it as a screenwriter. "But I never thought the route would be as difficult as it has been," she says.
That route has taken her from a poor, working-class upbringing in southeast London, through blogs and several plays and a bestselling 2019 memoir of her life as a single mother (Skint Estate: A Memoir of Poverty, Motherhood and Survival), all the way to her first television series. Rain Dogs, which she created, wrote and executive-produced, debuts the first of eight episodes March 6 on HBO.
"To have my first show on HBO?" she says, speaking in London. "The home of The Sopranos, the finest piece of television that's ever been made? It doesn't even seem real to me."
Rain Dogs stars British comedy star Daisy May Cooper (This Country, Am I Being Unreasonable?, Avenue 5) as Costello Jones, a mother on the breadline doing whatever it takes to keep a roof over the head of her beloved daughter (Fleur Tashjian in her debut role). It is a scalding, Fleabag-style chronicle that portrays an urban mother's lot as a relentless, dirty war.
Carraway's inspirations give you some idea of the type of show she's written. It was seeing Mark Ravenhill's Shopping and Fucking in the theater in the mid-'90s that first sparked her interest in writing.
"It was the first thing that I saw," she recalls, "and it made me realize that you can write real people for theater and for TV." She devoured work by British realist icons such as Jimmy McGovern (BBC One's Time) in drama and John Sullivan (BBC One's Only Fools and Horses) in comedy; she obsessed over the semi-confessional, down and dirty writings of Charles Bukowski, Jeffrey Bernard and Jonathan Ames.
She realized, in short, that there was a place for stories like hers on stage and screen — while noting that none of the work she was absorbing had been created or written by women.
Even so, she says the primary barrier was poverty. "If you've had a hard day at work at a call center, or as a receptionist, or wherever you're working, the last thing you want to do in the evening is start writing a screenplay. You have to pay your bills and pay your rent before you get to write."
The success of her memoir has allowed her to write what she has always wanted to write. "I'm one of those people who's been obsessed with film and television my entire life. I've got friends from my childhood who say, 'Now you're actually getting paid to do that?'It seems insane to them."
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #1, 2023, under the title, "True Grit."