It’s not every day that one of the most powerful women in television gives a show and its creators a glowing review and must-see status, that is unless you’re Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair from Playing House and that TV powerhouse is none other than Shonda Rhimes.
These two incredibly funny and talented women deserve the praise given by Rhimes and countless loyal fans of their hit series Playing House on USA Network. Each week Lennon and Jessica bring us to our knees doubled over laughing with their witty and infectious brand of comedy. If you haven’t caught an episode yet you should treat yo self and binge watch both seasons. Trust me, you’ll thank me when you do!
With their series finishing up it’s second season I had the please to catch up with these funny ladies to chat about Season 2, where Maggie and Emma might go in Season 3 and if there’s any possibility of a Bosephus and Jandana spin-off.
Playing House airs Tuesday, 10pm/9c on USA Network and is also available online and On-Demand!
Full interview after the jump!
I wasn’t planning this as my first question but I just read in Entertainment Weekly that Shonda Rhimes is basically in love with you and your show so I had to start things off discussing that.
Jessica St. Clair: We are so obsessed with her! I don’t know why or how she found our show but the fact that she says that, we’re gonna dine out on that for the next ten years. She is our Queen! She doesn’t know it but we’ve been stalking her for years. She’s a class act and she’s everything we ever want to be.
Lennon Parham: She runs an amazing ship over there. Who runs the world? Shonda!
It’s pretty incredible, it really is. It must feel pretty surreal to have someone who like you said runs such a tight ship, another highly successful woman take notice and recognize your work publicly by saying hey these women are amazing with a show worth watching.
Jessica: The thing about Shonda’s shows and what makes both Lennon and I such huge fans is that the friendship between the women in her shows are real. They really have each others backs so you can tell that the way her actors speak about her the loyalty she has from her writers and her actors you can just tell that she’s putting love out there and that’s what Lennon and I have always tried to do in our own way.
Lennon: And also murder.
Jessica: She’s putting out love and murder.
Lennon: Scandal is one of the only shows that everyone I know has to watch live. That and Game of Thrones you have to watch it within twenty-four hours at least but Scandal is 100% you have to watch it live.
Jessica: Our show you can binge watch the entire thing in an afternoon. You can lock yourself in a room with your best friend and go crazy.
Speaking of best friends, my own best friend got me hooked on your first series BFF. His name is Bobby and he told me that I would die when I saw it, even though it was already too late because the series was canceled, and I like why would you introduce me to such a great show after it’s already gone but he convinced me to watch it anyway because he knew I was going to love these women and he was right.
Jessica: That’s so sweet, that means so much to us!
Lennon: It’s better to have loved. Right?
Absolutely! I’m so glad he introduced it me because the second I read that Playing House was coming out I couldn’t believe it was happening and was so excited.
Lennon: That makes me so happy!
With the shortened season do you feel like you were able to tell the story, continue the story the way you wanted to?
Jessica: Of course we would have done sixteen episodes and been so happy to do that but having only eight meant that we basically wrote a million stories and then said which are our favorites. Maybe if you have a season with twenty-four episodes you say uh 12-17 were not that good but every one of these episodes were our favorites.
That’s the nice thing is we feel like we were able to tell an arc in the way like the British Office was able to do but we never had a clunky one which was really nice just because we knew we had to go big or go home.
The season has definitely had a good flow. I have to say every episode has been really tight and as a viewer, as a fan, it’s been a lot of fun to watch. I don’t feel like anything has been left out.
What would you say has been the most fun filming the second season of Playing House?
Lennon: Keegan (Keegan-Michael Key) had to do his new movie and so we shot all of his stuff the first two weeks and that was a pretty amazing couple weeks because everyday he’s in a garbage bag or in a tux or in a v-neck. That was really super fun to shoot with him. Also a personal favorite was Kenny Loggins because he’s just the greatest and it was a real dream come true and sort of a full circle moment to be able to sit with him and sing with him.
Jessica: Then Darius Rucker was an Easter Egg. Just like Shonda we saw him Tweet from the Grand Ole Opry, where he was performing that night, that he was watching Playing House was like what is going on because we’re obsessed with him. Then we were like who gives a shit let’s just reach out and see if he wants to come and play one of Lennon’s love interests. Lennon DM’ed (direct message) him and he waited two days and he wrote back I’m all in I’ll be on the next plane to LA. We were like…WHAT???
When he came and he was singing all the female extras in the restaurant were literally passing out from how fucking sexy and handsome he is and how good his voice is…that was really fun. Just to see what a super fan he was and then when he shows up just like Kenny (Loggins) he’s the nicest guy in the world.
Lennon: You don’t spend all day working nailing it and knocking it out of the park if you’re not super talented and also nice I think. Since we write with people that we love in life like all of our friends every day was kind of like a little bit of a treat and we just settled in and had such a blast.
Jessica: I think one of our favorite moments is when we made the actor wear this old fashioned welding mask because it was the kind of mask Channing Tatum wore in the trailer for the most recent Magic Mike and we didn’t realize until we were in it that he could not see out of it.
Lennon: He kept missing the piece and we were like just do it right on the piece and he was like ugh I’m so sorry I can’t see and we were like…What?? They were like we’ll just pop the glass out and I’m like no man you’re gonna get blinded it’s not worth it. But he was totally in! He was gonna do it for us.
Jessica: And then watching Lennon have sex with both of The Property Brothers…
Lennon: They just licked my neck there was no actual sex in the video.
In the video…let’s be clear…in the video! That sequence was hilarious and disturbing but it was amazing to watch.
Jessica: It’s like everyone that’s a fan of The Property Brothers has at one point thought what would that be like and then Lennon experienced it and the fact that it looks like she’s in the middle of a Stevie Nicks video is the best thing I’ve ever created in my entire life so that was pretty fun.
Between the two series that you’ve done together has there been anything that really surprised you as far as being creative, being best friends and continuing to work together?
Jessica: I’m surprised that I haven’t worn Lennon out to the point where she needs to leave the country and change her name and identity.
Lennon: That’s a weird thing to say.
Jessica: No but you know what I mean I’m always so pleasantly surprised that every single time that we work under really stressful conditions that we want to do it again and that we have a really good time doing it. We literally have each others backs 1000%. I know there are a lot of working relationships that have really broken apart under the stress of doing your own show and the fact that it’s only brought us closer together has been a great surprise.
Lennon: It’s kind of always a constant renegotiation because we do these three month cycles. We’ll be two months in the writers room and that’s very different from the three months that we spend shooting and pre-production. Our schedules are different like how much we see our families, whether or not they’re coming to set, we kind of go into these little vacuums with each other and whoever else is along for the ride.
So every time we make a shift into a new area we kind of have to re-figure it out. We’ve been there done that a couple of times now so we’re getting much better at it and I’m impressed with how we now navigate all of that. We’re kind of taking stalk as we go saying what can we do better what do we need more of and that sort of thing.
One great surprise, at least for me, has been how popular Bosephus and Jandana has become. Is there any chance of a spin-off web series or short film because it’s amazing. These two character are hilarious!
Lennon: Jessica would not want to do that because she cannot spend more time with Bosephus. She loves him because he’s undeniably funny and everyone’s obsessed with him but she hates him because I get to call the shots and I get to be in charge and she has to stop talking.
Jessica: It’s the secret part of Lennon that I only see when that mustache comes out and it haunts me. We came up with Bosephus on BFF. We wanted it to be a tiny character that Lennon would have used to disguise some escapade that was going to happen and we thought there is no way NBC is going to let us have Lennon dress as Bosephus.
Lennon: It wasn’t even full it was only going to be for the tag, it was basically you realize that I had been there the whole time but dressed up as this redneck man and then you do a flashback and see all the funny things I do.
Jessica: Then when we decided to let it rip on USA (USA Network) we thought well they’ll definitely kill the idea once we show them the script and then they were like yeah we’re on board.
Then the fact that people loved them and started dressing as them out in the world taking pictures of themselves in front of the Washington Monument that was surprising. We thought people would be like that’s a crazy thing they just did that was a departure, they jumped the shark but instead they were like we want more…so much so that we had to rise them from the dead.
Lennon: I feel like too, it’s like you give all the dude that already love our show permission to love our show because he exists within the context. They watch with their girlfriends or their wives and then at the end of the day they’re like I’m watching because of Bosephus, Bosephus is really funny. Yeah, yeah but you were having the feels. You were loving it when this happened.
Jessica: And Toyota Camry let Bosephus hump their car. They paid for a great deal of our show and they allowed Bosephus hump the bumper of a Toyota Camry.
Lennon: It gets the Bosephus nod of approval.
Any word at this point if Season 3 will take place?
Jessica: We’re still waiting. Our show is a little different than every other show actually because it’s so important to them how our show does On-Demand. So in order for them to compile all of that data we have to wait a couple weeks. I has to finish airing and then there’s a couple weeks of lag time to see who binges it in that month. It’s a really new way of rating television what was a success.
Lennon: It definitely was a new partnership where Universal partners with Comcast Xfinity who partners with the advertisers to all come together and USA obviously. It’s complicated but hopefully we’ll find out soon and we start writing again.
Jessica: The executives that work on the show are true fans of the show which is nice so everyone is rooting for it to come back.
Lennon: We feel a lot of love.
If it does get picked up, do you have an idea of where you want to take it for the next season?
Jessica: We definitely leave ourselves on purpose with cliffhangers. There’s a big cliffhanger in the finale where you don’t know what’s going to happen with Emma and Mark. That both helps us and it’s hard because we’ll get back to Season 3 and be like oh God what are we going to do with this but it always makes for great first or second episode because you have to deal with this big thing that we set up in the previous season.
I think what’s nice is we get into the writers room and we have a few ideas but we really all create it together out of kind of the experience we’ve had over the past year. I remember reading that Sex in the City did this but we basically go around and talk about our personal lives and what’s been happening and our stories all come from that. We’ll just see what happens to us in the next couple months!
You can catch every episode of Playing House on USA Network Tuesdays 10pm/9c or online and On-Demand anytime.