The first month of the new decade has proven to be a big one for locally-raised television screenwriter and producer Shauna McGarry, whose work on the Netflix adult animated sitcom “Tuca & Bertie” was presented on January 25 with an Annie Award, the industry’s prize recognizing excellence in animation. The 36-year-old Dos Pueblos High School and NYU Tisch School of the Arts graduate remarked that she was proud to represent the show and everyone who worked on it when accepting the award, especially since “Tuca & Bertie” was prematurely cancelled in the summer of 2019 after just ten episodes. Ms. McGarry won the best writing Annie Award for the show’s penultimate episode, “The Jelly Lakes.”
“I feel that it’s for everybody,” she said of her award.
Although Ms. McGarry said that “Tuca & Bertie” creator Lisa Hanawalt is currently looking for a new home to continue the show, there are not yet any concrete plans to revive it. “Tuca & Bertie” told the story of two anthropomorphized birds in their early thirties, the titular Tuca and Bertie. They are roommates until the pilot episode, when Bertie, a data analyst and aspiring baker, moves in with her boyfriend. This causes a change in the dynamic of her relationship with Tuca, her recently sober and impulsive friend.
Ms. McGarry said of the show, “It’s about what happens to female relationships when you get older and one of you begins a romantic relationship with somebody else.”
Female relationships are a common theme in Ms. McGarry’s writing and one that she holds dear. For the past year, she has been developing a semi-autobiographical pilot at the FX network about two female friends who don’t have romantic partners and try to commit to each other as friends when one of them gets diagnosed with lung cancer. Despite the depressing sounding premise, Ms. McGarry assured the News-Press that it is a comedy. It doesn’t yet have a title, but her short and sweet pitch describes it as “a Charlie Kaufman show for girls.” In her opinion, mass media has not created enough content exploring female friendships, which have been some of her most significant.
“For me, my female friendships were always the most important relationships in my life outside of my family,” she said.
In the near future, Ms. McGarry’s writing will be featured on “Katy Keene,” a musical comedy-drama spinoff of the Archie comics-based show “Riverdale.” Like “Riverdale,” “Katy Keene” will air on The CW Television Network, with the first episode premiering on February 6 at 8 p.m. “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted,” the episode that Ms. McGarry penned, airs at the same time on February 20.
Born in Burbank, Ms. McGarry moved to Santa Barbara with her parents when she was five years old. Looking back on her formative years in this town, the screenwriter credited Santa Barbara’s rich artistic community with shaping her ambition to have a career in the arts. Growing up, she was involved in artistic activities as varied as participating in a teen mentorship program at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and participating in jazz choir and theater at Dos Pueblos High School. On the film side, Ms. McGarry also worked with a now defunct children’s film festival. Currently, she works with the nonprofit Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles, which teaches at-risk youth how to make experimental and documentary films. It is also the model for one of her yet to be fulfilled dreams. Using the Echo Park Film Center as a guide, Ms. McGarry hopes to one day return to Santa Barbara and set up a similar organization in her hometown.