Sebastian Zurita knows a thing or two about “How to Survive Being Single” — the American title of his new Spanish-language ensemble comedy (“Como Sobrevivir Soltero”) premiering Friday on Amazon.
“This comes from a guy who’s been single for eight years,” says the Mexican-born Zurita, 33, who stars in the series. “The original idea came from a trip to the beach I went on with a group of friends I knew since kindergarten. One of my friends was extremely obnoxious. He was getting us into lots of trouble and by the end of the weekend our reality was much different than our expectations.
“We didn’t catch anything but a cold.”
The 10-episode series, subtitled in English, was co-created by Zurita and his brother, Emiliano (who’s also an actor). It centers around Sebastian Ybarra (Zurita), a washed-up Mexican actor who’s been dating onetime co-star Lucia (Pamela Almanza) for 10 years. The series opens with an extremely nervous Sebastian proposing to Lucia on national TV. It does not go well.
The humiliated Sebastian, a sensitive romantic at heart, enters the dating scene — and everything that entails vis a vis social media — while taking (mostly unwanted) advice from his close group of off-the-wall friends: Fish (Fabrizio Santini), Gonzo (Octavio Hinojosa), Fabiana (Tato Alexander), Mafer (Lucia Gomez-Robledo) and Daniel (Roberto Flores).
“Friendship is another type of relationship, and we wanted to explore these guys who’ve been together so long — and the reason behind them being in their 30s and still being such close friends,” Zurita says. “They’re completely opposite sides of the coin [from Sebastian] but they balance each other out. There was a lot of debate in the writers’ room that it wasn’t believable — that no one in their 30s spends all that time together with each other — but what if they did? There’s a different language spoken with a group of friends, the way they communicate. I wanted to create that bond.”
The group’s chemistry is apparent on-screen, though Zurita, a veteran of Mexican soaps and the big screen, says he didn’t know any of his co-stars heading into the series, which was shot in Mexico City.
“The casting process was intense,” he says. “It took almost five months, which is almost unheard-of in Mexico. Me and my brother were in every single casting session … and for this show is was really important that the chemistry [between the cast] would be believable. Some of the actors went through eight or nine callbacks. We took everyone bowling and got drunk together for one day. We had a lot of rehearsals, which you really don’t have in Mexican television.”
It’s Sebastian, though, who’s the main protagonist around which Season 1 revolves — and Zurita says his journey will be both unpredictable and humorous as he searches for true love.
“Viewers are in for a surprise,” he says. “The show has so many moments where you don’t know what’s really happening … we get really weird and the plot twists mess with every character. It’s insane how much work went into that.
“But more than that, the jokes needed to be character-driven,” he says. “Sebastian is going through an emotional rollercoaster and the idea is that, ‘OK, he’s broken-hearted but wants to get over it’ — and throughout the season he’s trying all these techniques: the old romantic way, social media, taking a course on how to meet women. He’s realizing that even though his friends have his best interests at heart, he’s not them.
“Sometimes you’re not ready to find true love yet and he’s rushing into the wrong things.”
And, Zurita says, it was important for “How to Survive Being Single” to reflect the 2020 dating scene.
“We had six writers on the show, three women and three men, and we wanted to confront the ideas of what men think women want and vice versa, and what’s happening in real life in the MeToo era and approaching that with a really dark sense of humor.
“It’s like, ‘We’re so progressive’ — but are we really there yet, or not?”