‘Brothers from the Suburbs’ updates a film tradition

Chicago filmmaker
Patrick Wimp
sheds new light
on the drama
of high school life

The Chicago-made web series Brothers from the Suburbs is on a winning streak that includes Best Web Original at HBO/BET’s Urbanworld Film Festival, Best Direction at SeriesFest, and the Audience Award and Jury Award for Best Scripted Digital Series at the Austin Film Festival.

Created, written, and directed by Chicago filmmaker Patrick Wimp, the series cleverly updates a stoner film tradition carried on by the likes of Wayne’s World, Up in Smoke, and Friday. With easy rhythm, natural performances, skillful editing, and adept cinematography, Brothers is an enjoyable ride through high school social life that most everyone can relate to.

Except, of course, the lead characters, a likable trio of African American young men named Bone, Free, and Davis. Calling themselves the “Brothers from the Suburbs,” they navigate through the cliques, parties, and drinking games while carrying a much greater load than their white peers seem to realize.

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Coming-of-age themes appear in a whole new light through this perspective. The cute girl, the spastic mom, and the dumb jock reinforce an overbearing sense of whiteness that has a profound effect on the guys who look different than everyone else.

Wimp, who wrote and directed Brothers, is intimately familiar with the sensation because he grew up as a minority in a well-do-do Chicago suburb.

“The film is largely inspired by the experiences of myself and two really close friends navigating a similar Catholic college prep high school,” he explains. “It was rarely the heavy-handed, overt bigotry often represented in the media. A lot of times it was those micro-aggressions and this fetishization that people have for the ‘coolness’ of black culture.”

Although the story delivers a poignant reminder of just how challenging life can be for the brothers from the suburbs, it weaves the teaching moment into a universally-appealing tale of young adulthood.

“What I wanted to do is start in a place that is really relatable for everyone,” says Wimp. “Adolescence is extremely awkward. Even if we perceive ourselves as cool, we’re all dorks.”

Brothers from the Suburbs is the first of several short form digital series funded and produced through Chicago Media Angels Digital Slate. Competent, funny, and warm, the show is worth all the accolades that it is bound to continue earning.

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Wimp is currently in talks with networks and platforms that focus on short-form content “to get Brothers to the broader world.”

Send your indie news to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton, dan@reelchicago.com.