With shows like "Portlandia" already digging into hipster culture one thrift store find at a time, another program hopes to step into the flannels-and-horn-rimmed-glasses spotlight: MTV's "I Just Want My Pants Back." But unlike Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein's cleverly crafted satire, "Pants" celebrates the hipster in a way that only MTV could.
Somewhere, a Pabst Blue Ribbon-chugging 20-something is disgusted at the thought of another TV show exploiting his individuality.
Peter Vack, the star of the new indie comedy, doesn't care what the hipsters think. After all, he's one of them.
"I Just Want My Pants Back" is based on a novel by David J. Rosen, who's also a producer on the show, about a group of post-college hipsters living, loving and hooking up in New York City. Vack, a native New Yorker, plays Jason, who recently graduated from Cornell and now lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with a group of his college friends. The show is conveniently filmed on location in Brooklyn.
Jason's best friend is Tina (Kim Shaw), and their closest friends are a couple, Eric (Jordan Carlos) and Stacey (Elisabeth Hower), who have just taken a "huge step" in their relationship by moving in together. Meanwhile, Jason has a low-ranking job at a casting agency that constantly reminds him he's not yet where he wants to be. But everything changes when he meets and sleeps with Jane (Kelli Barrett). She steals his heart -- and accidentally takes his pants.
MTV seems to be moving toward more scripted series, especially after the success of "Awkward" and "Teen Wolf."
I'm just happy that they're finally employing actors like myself, instead of people from New Jersey. But no, we love that show. We can't talk bad about that show. If we are a success, it will be at the back of those lovely people over at the Shore, or wherever they are now.
Well, now I have to ask: Do you watch "Jersey Shore"?
I don't watch "Jersey Shore." I can't get into reality shows for some reason. I know that it can become a whole way of life for some people, just to be involved in the drama of a show like "Jersey Shore." But for some reason, I've never connected to it. But it's an amazing cultural phenomenon, what they've managed to do. It's strange. A few years ago, you never would have assumed that something like "Jersey Shore" would become a brand, and [now] it's being co-opted all over the place. I feel like Jersey is "in" because of the "Jersey Shore."
I'm a little sad that you're not into reality TV.
Oh no, don't be sad! I'll tell you one reality show that I did get into. It was a short-lived show on Bravo, and I absolutely adored it. It was called "NYC Prep." They were trying to do a "Gossip Girl" reality show, and I went to private school in New York. At the time that it was on, I had been living in L.A. for five years, and I was so excited because I felt like I was back home, even though the kids were pretty bad. They were caricatures, but it was fun to watch. I did love that show.
You grew up in New York, and the show is filmed in New York, so do you live in the city now?
I live on the Upper West Side. I still live with my parents. I want to move Brooklyn. Listen, I was much more of a struggling actor up until recently. It's hard. I f-cking couldn't afford it. I lived in L.A. for a bit and supported myself, but then I moved home. I needed a break from L.A. It's kind of what New York brats tend to do, unfortunately. It's like the dark secret of those of us who grew up here. It can take a long time. My friends are older than me, and they still live at home. It's pretty pathetic, and we all kind of hate ourselves for it, but it's sort of what we do.
There should be a reality show based on that.
I think so, dude. I think so. I love Brooklyn. I spend a lot of time in Greenpoint. It's a great neighborhood. I think it's where a young person should be these days.
You shot on location in Greenpoint, which automatically makes it the most hipster show on TV, right?
Oh, for sure! I think that's what makes our show unique. We're doing New York, and we're shooting in New York, where young people actually do live, in Greenpoint. It's not like we're shooting in the West Village, where young people lived 20 years ago, and we're not shooting on a sound stage in L.A. to try and make it look like some version of some neighborhood in New York. We're not shooting in Toronto. I hope that even people who have never been to New York stop and think, "Oh hey, this is cool. I've never seen this yet on television." Everybody just wanted it to be authentic.
I feel like the word "hipster" is so comical because it means something different to every person, so how do you feel knowing that the show is getting that hipster label?
The show definitely deals with this thing that is "hipsterism," and clearly, I've done some thinking as to what that means because I think that it's kind of like an elusive idea. I think that a lot of times, it's used as an insult or as a bad word, but I kind of don't see it that way. My feeling is that everyone right now, probably from the age of 18 to 30, will look back at pictures of themselves when they're 50 and say, "What a f-cking hipster I was." And they'll laugh, and no one will think it's a bad thing. Every creative-type young person who's not interested in the mainstream is a hipster, and it's not bad. It is what it is.
Me? I think yes. Growing up in New York, hanging out in Brooklyn, wearing tight pants -- I don't wear that tight of pants, but I certainly don't wear baggy jeans -- I think, yes, I am a hipster. For the audition, I didn't have to play anything up. I just was who I am. I think the thing about Jason is that he's not like Lench, the guy who he goes to work for. [Lench] is like the stereotypical, annoying hipster-type. Now Jason, he's a hipster because he wants to live in Brooklyn and write for a music magazine, but he's really just like any guy who moves to New York with dreams of doing something cool.
Did you wear your favorite pants to the audition?
I wore a favorite pair of jeans, but what's interesting is that the jeans that actually do get stolen are mine, and they are my favorite. We didn't have a huge budget on the pilot, so there really wasn't that many pants, and the pants that they had were just not cool. There just weren't any jeans that a guy would be really bummed if he lost. But I did have a pair. I have this really cool pair of A.P.C. jeans that are worn in and have all sorts of holes, and I was like, "We've got to use these." It was just obvious. They fit, they looked cool, and those were the jeans that I'd be bummed if I lost, so we used my jeans. I love jeans, which is weird that this show happens to be about pants, because as a person, I love pants. It was probably fate.
You love jeans, but you're not that into Twitter. I tweeted at you, and you never tweeted back. It was a bit of a missed signal.
It's a very complicated relationship. I never know what to tweet. Well, I think the reason that I'm not a good tweeter is because I'm too much of a perfectionist. I know that you just have to throw stuff out there and see what sticks, but I want all of mine to be really good, so then I don't tweet. I have some friends that follow me, and I really respect their abilities at tweeting, and I just don't want to make a misstep in their eyes. It's so complex.
It's strange how self-conscious people get over Twitter.
It feels more public in a way than Facebook, for some reason. I don't put anything up on Facebook either. I mostly just use it to stalk people and whatnot. On Twitter, it's like you put something out there, and there's this huge responsibility to be witty or insightful. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm witty and insightful, but somehow, with Twitter, it's a little nerve-wracking.
"I Just Want My Pants Back" premieres on Thursday, Feb. 2, at 11 p.m. EST on MTV.
WATCH: Jason, broke and desperate, gets a cleaning job through a friend. But when he starts hooking up with the sexy, older woman he's working for, he begins to wonder if he's getting paid for more than just his housekeeping.