Ah, the baby epsiode.
It’s a tried and true formula that sitcoms have been partaking in since Lucy Ricardo gave birth to Little Ricky on “I Love Lucy.”
But in tonight’s episode of USA’s comedy “Playing House,” Maggie (Lennon Parham) goes into labor and, as expected, it’s not your run of a mill baby birth. Along with her BFF Emma (Parham’s real life BFF, Jessica St. Clair), the ladies are mistaken for a lesbian couple, which sets off a flurry of new identities for everyone in the mix.
And how exactly will having a baby in the cast change “Playing House” moving forward? I asked Parham and St. Clair that question and more and found out much about the show, who they’d like to see as their on-screen boyfriends and whether the comedic actresses, who also created the series, are hopeful USA will order up a second season.
The baby episode is next and I have to tell you that I really loved it.
Jessica St. Clair: That was an emotional week, I have to say! We just had babies for real so everyone was having major flashbacks in that delivery room.
Lennon Parham: But also people like all our hair and makeup [people], one woman has a twenty-year old daughter and another woman has a six-year old daughter. Everyone was sobbing. Even the men were sobbing, to be honest.
JSC: This is a comedy show, let’s remember that!
But it’s nice when the show does hit on those more real, emotional moments whether it’s babies or friendship.
LP: We always thought we wanted to do a show that you could both laugh and cry in thirty minutes and I don’t know that there are that many comedies that try for that.
TV baby deliveries go way back in television but in crafting this episode, how do you gauge how much screaming, sweating, cursing actually goes on during the delivery?
JSC: First of all, Lennon wanted to be a part time midwife, literally out of her garage. If she could, she’d hang up a shingle and she would deliver babies for fun.
LP: That is a little bit of an exaggeration. When I began to study baby delivery when I was about to have a baby, I became very into it and fascinated and what our body does and how a mother’s body temperature will rise the minute that the baby touches her chest because she needs to get warmer. There’s a bunch of crazy shit that the body does naturally. I’d share these details with Jessica and she really wasn’t interested.
JSC: I was pregnant, too, but I didn’t want to hear it.
LP: For us, it was really important to tell a true birth story. A lot of television shows when you see births the baby is coming out and the wife is freaking, ‘You did this to me!’ but she still super beautiful. There’s none of the realism that we just went through. Since we’re telling an authentic friend story, we also wanted to tell an authentic birth story.
JSC: Lennon and I wrote the pilot and the last two episodes. I was 10 months pregnant and I was driving to the office and I kept saying ‘You gotta stay in there because Mommy needs to make some more scratch before you get out.’ She listened and literally we turned in the final draft of the birth episode and that night I went home and went into labor so she listened.
LP: But we didn’t want the whole episode ‘is she going to be okay?’
JSC: This isn’t ‘Downton Abbey,’ you know what I mean? In the episode, our beautiful OBGYN, who is a lesbian, assumes that we are a lesbian couple and for some reason, because we’re so enamored of her, we don’t correct her when we get the chance and then it gets awkward to re-correct her. So we have to keep up this lie the entire labor that we’re a couple and everyone has to assume other roles. Lennon’s ex-husband has to be the cousin of our sperm donor…
Since you two are so close in real life, has anyone ever assumed you were a couple?
JSC: My husband will refer to me as his wife and Lennon as his other wife. And then my father, the other day we were walking in Santa Monica, and there were these two, in their 20s, gorgeous women and walking and holding hands and my Dad says, “Look, there’s a real ‘Playing House’ situation, right?’ I go, ‘Dad! Lennon and I are not lesbians. Not in life or the show!’ and he said, ‘Aren’t you kind of, though?’ I was like, ‘Dad! We’re not lesbians!’ He’s like, ‘Come on.’ Everyone assumes we’re biding our time until we can pull an Eleanor Roosevelt later in our life but everyone seems okay with it.
In the course of the show, once the baby arrives, how does it change things? As you know, once you have kids, everything changes.
JSC: One of our writers, Anthony King, was saying that his favorite cable shows, ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Breaking Bad,’ what they do is the second to last episode they have the big, crazy stuff happen and then the last episode of the season you get a tease of what season two is about. So we have the baby come in the ninth episode and then in the tenth episode you see us six weeks later and what it’s actually like to have a baby. The whole episode is about our fear ‘Is our life over? Are we never going to have adventures’ and we end up in a bar with a bunch of Hell’s Angels with the baby in a high stakes pool game…the baby is along for the ride and that’s basically what it’s like in real life.
Since both of your characters in the show are single, who would you cast as a boyfriend? Anyone you want. TV, movies…who would you pick?
LP: Idris Elba.
JSC: Channing Tatum. When we have a writers’ block or we’re stressed out, we cue up Channing Tatum’s strip scene from ‘Magic Mike.’
LP: The one where the girl comes in and sees him do his thing.
JSC: When he’s essentially having sex with a woman’s face. Not only do we watch it but we make our mostly all-male writers’ room watch it. I stop it and say ‘Guys, this is talent. He’s a triple threat.’
LP: He deserves to be famous.
JSC: Basically, this whole show, the reason I’m doing this show is to get to Channing Tatum.
And, Lennon, you said Idris Elba.
LP: Ever since ‘The Wire’ I’ve been interested and then he did ‘The Big C’ and that was hot…sex on the desk. ‘Oh, here I am just doing this mural, let’s have sex on this desk.’
JSC: You know, people don’t have sex on desks enough, I don’t think, in real life. I’ve never had sex on a desk and I hope to correct that at some point.
JSC: Season two I will have sex on a desk if Channing Tatum will guest star.
We haven’t heard yet about a second season of ‘Playing House.’ Does it feel like it’s going to happen.
JSC: There’s a nice groundswell of support and it feels like we’re in a moment where female friendship is really being celebrated on TV, authentic female friendship and that’s been really nice to be a part of that so we really hope we can continue since we already have 24 episodes we’re ready to roll on it.
LP: People keep finding it. Friends are telling friends and it’s definitely a word-of-mouth shows. What we’re hoping is that everyone binge watches this week and then sticks around for the finale.
“Playing House” airs two back-to-back episodes tonight at 10pm on USA.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
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