I have a confession to make. I don’t watch nearly as much TV as I should. Yeah, I said should. I love movies and TV shows, it’s really only the time factor that’s been keeping me down.
This past week, I was out in LA for an amazing blogging adventure. Part of this incredible trip was attending a two-day ABC TV event that included set visits and informal interviews with talent and creators of some of today’s top shows. I already told you about Resurrection (Did you see that shocker of a second episode?!?), but another show we dove into was Trophy Wife.
Before this trip, I had heard of the show but had never seen an episode. So I did my homework to catch up a bit and, you know what? It’s funny. Like really really funny. It’s also quite different from any other family comedy I’ve ever seen.
I had the privilege of sitting down with the show’s co-creators to watch the latest two-part “The Wedding” episodes and ask them some questions. Part 1 aired last week and while funny, can’t hold a candle to the second part that airs tonight on ABC. No joke, my abdomen actually hurt from laughing so hard by the end. It’s also an incredibly sweet episode too, sure to fill your heart with lots of “Awwwwwwws.”
If you haven’t seen the show, Trophy Wife stars the completely adorable Malin Akerman as Kate, the resident Trophy Wife. Her husband Pete has been married twice before to two polar opposite women. Diane is a straight-laced, highly intimidating women who has two children (Warren and Hillary) with Pete. Jackie is the most free-spirited, no-filter, I-have-no-idea-what-the-word-boundaries-means woman around and practically lives at Kate and Pete’s house, she’s over there so often. She and Pete have one son named Bert.
If you haven’t seen this show yet either, do yourself a favor and go watch a few random episodes. It’s okay, I’ll wait. Go ahead and catch last week’s first part of the Wedding episode before diving into tonight’s conclusion. If you thought the Brady Bunch wedding was the height of sitcom weddings… well you need to watch a lot more TV. But seriously, after watching this one, I want to get married again! Let’s just say Muppets are involved, and leave it at that.
After watching this dysfunctional episode in the ABC offices (they even sprung for some scrumptious pizzas too! Thanks, ABC!), we got to chat with the show’s co-creators and executive producers Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern. Here’s what they had to say about Trophy Wife!
How did you come up with the idea for Trophy Wife?
Sarah Haskins: We’re the creators, so we came up with the idea together. It’s very loosely based on my life. I married an older man who’d been married a few times before and has children from those different marriages. Kind of like Malin Akerman’s character, without rocking the short shorts.
It’s a situation that while unique and highly specific, is also very universal. People have dealt with divorce and co-parenting. It’s very common and we thought had a place on TV.
The characters all have great chemistry. How hard was it to get who you wanted?
Sarah: We filmed the pilot off cycle and we didn’t appreciate it at the time. That wound up being a huge advantage because we weren’t competing for all the exact same actors as all of the other pilots at the same time. And a lot of that had to do with Malin. She was really the first piece. ABC had actually passed on Trophy Wife the first year we developed it and ultimately it was given a second life when Malin read the script and ABC really wanted to work with her. And so did we.
Why do a wedding episode now?
Emily Halpern: We were kind of trying to think of a big episode idea. Honestly, we knew this was gonna air in March. It was a two-parter. In a comedy, we can’t shoot the president [Laughs] so how big can we go? A wedding felt good to us.
What’s next for Trophy Wife?
Sarah: Hopefully season 2!
Emily: We just finished editing our season finale and our fate is in ABC’s hands. But we hope we get to come back to do some more.
Sarah: Yeah, and appropriately, our season finale is a Mother’s Day episode. It helps wrap up Kate’s arc all season of “Am I a mom in this family’s eyes or am I just a trophy wife?”
How’d you come up with the specific characters? Who were the influences?
Sarah: We talked about my emotional reactions to meeting my husband’s exes. His first wife is super intimidating. She’s French and she’s a lawyer and she went to Brown and blah blah blah. So she was so intimidating that we took that intimidating factor and made that Diane. I think everyone probably has an experience with an intimidating ex who you don’t want to hear about.
And then the Jackie character came out of dealing with the boundaries of a blended family. No one in particular. It’s just hard to say where your nuclear family ends and your everybody family begins. And Jackie is someone who is strongly on the everybody is family portion of the spectrum. That’s just a fun character to have.
Do the ex wives know it’s about them?
Sarah: I wouldn’t say it’s about them. One of them watches it and one of them doesn’t. The intimidating one does watch it.
Emily: And she has notes every week! [Laughs]
I do think we consciously try to write all three women as strong characters. And once we sort of had whatever the stereotype was, we really worked hard to try to make sure that they felt like complete characters and strong women and had their own independence.
What’s the writing process like?
Sarah: There’s a lot of diverse life experiences in our writer’s room, so people would pitch stories. The Lice Story came from a writer who just had a super embarrassing lice breakdown with her kids at school. They had to take home all the pillows in school and wash them. It sounded horrible.
And just issues like The Punisher, was actually from one of our male co-Executive Producers who was just like, “How does she learn to do that? How do you do that?” And I think that’s just his anxiety about being a parent some days. So that’s where The Punisher episode came from.
Emily: We also try to think of what’s the funniest one line story we can think of. And then just build a bigger story on top of it. If the premise is funny, the story is funny. We can make that work. We have an episode coming up where Warren joins the girl’s field hockey team and that idea made us laugh so we built a story around it.
Be sure to watch Trophy Wife TONIGHT on ABC at 9:30/8:30c