I spoke with Jessica St.Clair and Lennon Parham, the incredibly talented stars of the USA Networks breakout hit, PLAYING HOUSE. The show surrounds the lives of Maggie (Parham) and Emma (St.Clair) while they tackle motherhood and best friend hood. (that’s totally a thing) I did a review of this show a couple of weeks ago and my fondness for the show has grown tremendously since then. I can’t stress enough how truly wonderful, adorable, and special this show is. I urge everyone to make a date with your couch this Tuesday night at 10:00and watch an all new episode of PLAYING HOUSE.
How did you both come up with the concept for the show?
Jessica: Well Lennon and I are real life best friends and we have been writing together for I don’t know maybe six or seven years now. We met at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York like a million years ago and we did a show for NBC called BFFS, we had such a blast doing that. We really like to write about what we are going through in our lives and we were about to get pregnant before we wrote this show. We thought since we are already spending sixteen hours a day together what would it be like if we had a baby and raised it. That’s sort of how it came about, and I remember saying to Lennon “this is a crazy idea, that’s insane that two best friends would raise a baby together” and she said “no we have to do it”. We named it “Two Ladies and a Baby” because the worse our titles are the better the ideas are. (Laughs) And then we actually ended up getting pregnant.
Lennon: While we were shooting.
How did you both decide who would play Emma and who would play Maggie?
Lennon: Well we kind of write for ourselves and we write to our dynamic so we just were writing characters that were close to us. It just naturally made sense that me, Lennon would play a character that would be more of a home body and be the one who was pregnant and having her life thrown up in the air. Jessica would have been…
Jessica: More ballsy, business broad! (laughs)
Lennon: If we hadn’t gone into comedy that might have been our other life.
Jessica: Exactly! And Lennon and I really wanted to write this one instead of in New York or LA where so many shows are set, we kind of wanted to go back to where we kind of were raised, which was places like that. There’s a real charm to it and also a nice sense of belonging that I think GILMORE GIRLS did a really good job of, and we’re big fans of that show so we thought we would borrow the charm of a small town from that but fill it with all of our comedy improviser friends from the UCB.
Lennon: Because we came up through the UCB theater and everybody does everybody else’s stuff we have access to all of these guys who we’ve known since they are like seventeen and we were doing tour shows in the middle of nowhere, and now they all have their own television shows or are on THE LEAGUE, VEEP or SNL, so we just call in favors and they come and do our show and for a whole week we get to play with a new best friend.
Jessica: It’s a lot like we all went to college together honestly because UCB was sort of like grad school, all twenty one or twenty two and in Zach Woods’ case he was seventeen. We all really learned how to be comedians together and it was amazing that we get paid to do this.
Jess you mentioned GILMORE GIRLS, I read in an interview recently that Lennon has never watched it before. Have you watched it since then, Lennon?
Lennon: I have not watched it, I will never watch it probably. Otherwise our show would become GILMORE GIRLS because she is so obsessed with it.
Jessica: Listen I don’t know why she continually hurts me by not watching it. I just had to accept it. In every long term relationship there are compromises, you have to accept that this person is not going to fully give you what you want. That’s where Lennon will constantly let me down.
Lennon: I am the only person who is preventing our show from turning into GILMORE GIRLS.
Jessica: It’s true.
How will the shows dynamic change once the baby comes?
Jessica: You know we made a conscious effort in this season to not have the baby come until episode 9 because we were more interested in the first season exploring what it’s like for these two friends to kind of come back together and get used to each other again and get into the same kind of scrapes they used to get into in high school and the kind of anxiety and excitement that goes along with being pregnant. So we don’t have the baby until episode 9, we were going to have that as our finale and then we said we’d rather have it as the second to last episode and then show everyone in the finale episode what life is going to be like in season two for these girls. I think there is a big fear that when you have a baby on a show then everything gets super boring, and so what we show in episode 10 is that these girls are still going on these amazing adventures they are just doing it with a baby strapped to them. And the hell’s angels might be involved!
What can you tell us about tonight’s episode?
Jessica: Oh my God! Next week is a favorite of ours.
Lennon: Our favorite for sure.
Jessica: In next weeks episode Zach Woods who plays Lennons brother..
Lennon: Informs me that he’s going on a date and that he’s been courting a woman online for three months. I am immediately suspicious and overprotective of him because he’s my brother.
Jessica: So she thinks he is being catfished, and that the beautiful woman that he has fallen in love with online is actually a really big fat dude with an inverted wiener.
Lennon: So I take matters into my own hands and I spy on him on his date.
Jessica: To make sure when this fat dude with the inverted wiener shows up he’s not crushed.
Lennon: But I dress up like a DUCK DYNASTY sort of man, then Jessica and I are forced to go on a double date with Zach and his date dressed as duck dynasty man and his date Jandana, which is Jessica’s name in this scene.
Jessica: It is as close to Lucy and Ethel as you can get and this character that we call Bocefus that Lennon becomes is fully realized as some of Meryl Streeps transformation.
Jessica: She treats me like a piece of meat.
Lennon: And you like it.
Jessica: And I like it!
You can watch PLAYING HOUSE Tuesdays at 10:00 on USA Network. And you can follow Jessica and Lennon on twitter at @Jessica_StClair and @lennonparham
Victoria Nelli loves TV so much that she is paying $30,000 a year to learn about it in College. When she’s not learning about TV she enjoys writing about her favorite shows, interviewing anyone in the industry that will let her, and ranting about how underrated Parks and Recreation is. She is very much aware of her Netflix addiction, and no she will not be seeking help anytime soon. You can follow her on Twitter @VictoriaNelli