Michaela Watkins of Hulu’s Casual reveals details for Season 3 and why being let go from Saturday Night Live was the best thing that ever happened to her.
Early on in Season 3 of Hulu’s Casual, Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) asks her uncle, Alex (Tommy Dewey), whether he thinks Valerie (Michaela Watkins), her mother, is a good mom. Laura is unsure, especially after being roused with intrusive questions from a medical researcher who judges her for having sex so early.
“I used to think Valerie was a great mother, even though she was an unorthodox mother,” says Watkins in a phone interview. “But after this season, I think she’s just an okay-to-good mother. She hasn’t done anything particularly harmful. Next season she’ll be a great mother, though.”
While the jury is still out on just how successful Val is in this area, when it comes to Watkins finding success herself, her career has never been better. In addition to Casual, you can catch her on the Emmy-winning Transparent and even in a hilarious turn as a brothel madam on Season 2 of Comedy Central’s Another Period. And not only does she act, but she also writes. She and on-screen brother, Dewey, wrote Episode 8 of Season 3 of Hulu’s critically acclaimed series.
“There’s always been such fun chemistry between Tommy Dewey and me, in a sense that we have so much fun working together. We’re such good pals in real life.”
A Season 3 Episode 1 Bombshell
This season of Casual, a big bombshell drops in the first episode, jolting that sister-brother dynamic. (Scroll down if you haven’t seen it yet.)
**Charles (the fabulous Fred Melamed), who died last season, is not the father of Valerie, which makes Alex her half-brother.**
“That was such a surprise,” says Watkins. “What I love about this show is that it just creeps along very slowly, and then takes wild turns. It was really exciting and I had no idea how they were going to tackle that over the season. They never let any thread drop. It definitely is going to be a huge plot point, just not in the way you ever expect it to be.”
During the second episode, titled “Things to Do in Burbank When You’re Dead,” Valerie and Alex wander around Burbank with Charles’s ashes in a Richard Linklater-esque episode focusing on the two siblings, directed by Carrie Brownstein.
“I love that the writers took a chance. We missed Tara [Lynne Barr], but I think that episode is so necessary because it really sets the stage and fills people in on what the relationship is between these two people.”
Valerie and Storytelling 101
In addition to getting more of a glimpse at this rapport, we also get to see each character’s new defined sense of purpose with Valerie taking a Storytelling class.
“I think we’re just starting to see parts of Valerie’s suppressed personality emerge. She got married and had a kid so quickly that she never really got to find out who she really was. She tried to have a family different from the one she grew up with. She’s been stunted and she’s going back to her 20’s.”
While exploring this youthful period, Valerie encounters Chace Crawford.
“He is hilarious. I had heard of a Chace Crawford,” she laughs, “but I didn’t know Chace Crawford’s work, and he is a lovely, lovely human. He walks into a room, and you’re like, ‘You’re absolutely gorgeous.’ This is such reverse sexism, what women complain about, and here I am completely doing that now. I was like, ‘Wow, you’re not just a dish!’ ”
Leon comes back in the picture, too, for those shippers. Watkins admits that she actually married a Leon. “He’s just a really good guy. And I think [for Leon] there is sort of something stuck in his craw, that he likes and respects Valerie and has a soft spot for her and Alex. You don’t know if it’s pity or genuine love for these people. Either way, he feels dutiful and loyal to these clowns.”
Even though Valerie is pretending like she’s in her 20’s, Watkins thinks that it’s the post-20’s decade when life can get really interesting. “My most exciting parts of my personality didn’t emerge until my late 20’s/mid-30’s. I started playing the drums at 35 or 36.”
On Saturday Night Live and Post-SNL
Her 30’s were also the decade when she secured a spot on Saturday Night Live, even if for only one season. But given all of the work she’s done since then, including co-starring in her own highly acclaimed series that was nominated for a Golden Globe in its first season, does being let go from SNL feel like the best thing that could have happened to her?
“Absolutely is my first reaction. I didn’t feel like it was at the time, but when I really stack up the way the chips fell post-Saturday Night Live, to be doing my dream job, that is what had to have happened. And here we are on this dream show, with this dream cast, with dream producers. Yes, I would have to say.”
Watkins just keeps getting better, something Val could take a page from.
Casual Season 3 premieres on Hulu starting today.