The phrase “trophy wife” conjures up images of a gold-digging young women marrying an older man, who she does not love, solely for financial gain.
But ABC’s new comedy “Trophy Wife” is actually a smart, warm-hearted series about a contemporary blended family. When free spirit Kate (Malin Akerman) falls in love with, and marries, an older man named Pete (Bradley Whitford), she not only becomes a stepmother to his children from his previous marriages, but she must forge relationships with his two very different ex-wives.
According to executive producer Lee Eisenberg, the title was “always meant to be ironic.”
Added co-creator Sarah Haskins, “She’s trying to show people she’s not a trophy wife and she wants to be a mom and an involved parent.”
The series was inspired by Haskins’ real-life marriage to an older man with an equally complicated history. “I moved to L.A., and [co-creator Emily Halpern] and I were writing together. One day we ran out of ideas, so I married my next‑door neighbor, a man 20 years my senior with ex‑wives and lots of children. And we sort of realized this is too good to pass up.”
According to Haskins, the biggest challenge was that she didn’t just marry a man, she married his entire family. “It’s buying birthday presents for kids’ moms who used to be married to your husband. It’s meeting their family and trying to convince them you’re not some weird extra fourth wife, but you really want to be there and committed. I had a teenage daughter who was instantly much, much cooler than I was as a teenager.”
Contrary to expectations, Kate and Pete’s ex-wives, Diane (Marcia Gay Harden) and Jackie (Michaela Watkins) are not enemies or rivals. “We actually have a lot of episodes that we are working on now where, actually, Kate and Jackie or Kate and Diane are actually on the same team and that there’s a common enemy, [like a] a teacher that’s treating one of the children unfairly.”
Pete seems like a nice, normal guy, not a player. So how did he end up marrying three times? Eisenberg explained, “We always joked about it that it’s a little bit like the story of Goldilocks in that the first wife was too cold, and then he kind of over-corrected. So he was kind of like this very driven lawyer, and she was a very driven doctor and very Type A. And then he was like, ‘Oh, God,’ and then he went to [New Age wife number two] Jackie and then kind of self‑corrected a little bit.”
Kate is the proverbial baby bear, fun loving but grounded. “I think that as we move forward, we’ll see that Kate and he, they have a really fun relationship. And he’s really goofy, and they both have a really great sense of humor,” said Akerman.