Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch

Ali Goldstein

Issa Rae in the Roar episode "The Woman Who Disappeared."

Courtesy of Apple TV+

Betty Gilpin and Daniel Dae Kim in the Roar episode "The Woman Who Was Kept on a Shelf."

Courtesy of AppleTV+
Fill 1
Fill 1
July 21, 2022
In The Mix

Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch's Absurdist Anthology

With Apple TV+'s Roar, a producing pair hopes to spark conversation about gender and society.

Nicole Pajer

A woman who eats photographs, a trophy wife who literally sits on a shelf and a woman who finds herself in an emotionally abusive relationship with a duck — you'll find these characters in Roar, an eight-episode anthology adapted from Cecelia Ahern's short-story collection of the same name. The Apple TV+ series is the brainchild of New York playwrights Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, also known for Netflix's GLOW.

Featuring such stars as Nicole Kidman, Cynthia Erivo, Alison Brie and Issa Rae, the project explores what it means to be a woman today by putting ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances.

Flahive and Mensch — the series' creator–showrunner–executive producers — adapted six storylines from Ahern's book, calling upon their writers' room to infuse its own spin. They also created two original plotlines. "It's a collection of eight feminist fables," Flahive says. "They're all a bit surreal, a bit magical."

Roar spans myriad genres, including Western, romcom and psychological horror, all with a dark comedic tone. Each title teases the underlying concept, as in "The Woman Who Found Bite Marks on Her Skin," which features a mother returning to work. "She starts to discover strange bites all over her body," Mensch explains. "The spoiler alert is she's actually discovering her own maternal guilt eating her from within." Then there's "The Woman Who Was Kept on a Shelf," which explores the complicated world of marriage, beauty and personal choices.

The goal, Flahive says, is to get people talking. "We want the stories to stay with you, which is what reading these short stories did for us."

Some episodes will make audiences uncomfortable, while others may command empathy, Mensch says, adding, "The excitement for us is that audience members will hopefully find each other and talk about their reactions to the stories, and that the conversation is bigger than the show."

Like their first series, GLOW, about 1980s women wrestlers, "Roar had a lot of heart, and it had room for big ideas and comedy," Flahive says.

And they savored its wider range. "The fact that Liz and I had both read this book," Mensch says, "allowed us in different ways to think through genres we'd never gotten to play in before, through characters we hadn't gotten to think about. That was exciting."

"This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #6, 2022, under the title, "Setting Her in the Absurb."

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