Jazz Tangcay talks to Leighton Meester on playing the single parent, Lance Bass and her freshman year comedy Single Parents.
There’s something so fun and refreshing about watching ABC’s Single Parents. In the pilot, a bunch of single parents are thrown together when taking their kids to school and Will (Taran Killam) gets them involved in the PTA. The great message of the show is the parents don’t fight or bicker, there’s plenty of humor while dealing with serious issues.
Leighton Meester delivers a comical turn as Angie. I caught up with her to talk about single parenting on the show and what we can expect as we head into the season finale of the ABC series.
What I love about the show is its message. Each episode just follows that journey of “you’re not alone and you’re not crazy” what was your reaction when you first got the script for the pilot?
I think I felt like it all made sense. The group dynamic worked really well on the page. I really liked the idea of Angie. When I spoke to J.J. Philbin, Elizabeth Meriwether and Jason Winer and all the producing team, I really got a sense of where they were headed. I trusted them because I like their tone, background and previous work.
I liked the distinction between the characters and for Angie herself. I was excited to play her. It’s grown so much and Angie has developed and discovered so much within a season of the show. It’s been amazing because I have so much input about what my character says and does and who she is. Even certain directions that the storyline has taken, I’ve had some input. So, it felt like it had this magic to it.
You talk about the collaboration, what is that like for you as an actress where you have writers who can help you craft a character?
I think nothing has quite matched this show in terms of character as far as the input and collaboration that I’m able to achieve with this team. I think a huge part of that is because I’m a mom and can relate on that level with the character and her relationships with her child and friends. Whether it’s anecdotes or just feelings about parenthood and raising a child or being a mother, I’ve been lucky to give them any bit of information that I can offer. Some of it is funny and some of it is about just how much of a struggle it is. Of course, I am aware of the fact that I’m not Angie and I’m not a single mother. I have a partner, but it’s not lost on me how much harder it must be for a single mom. I am aware of the fact that being a mom is the hardest job in the world and you don’t get paid. There’s that.
There are funny things. The road trips that we can laugh over and listen to the same song over and over. I think that’s what’s good about it is that it’s funny, but there’s a lot of real-life issues that we tackle and I appreciate that balance within the story of my character.
There’s so much to draw on from what you said, but I do love Angie’s dynamic with Will.
The fun thing about the show is that it is a wish fulfillment in the sense; each episode is its own story and each character is having their arc throughout the season. We get to do fun things with our kids. There are parties. There are talent shows. There are silent auctions. It is a lot of fun. I think the wish fulfillment is that you are watching people who are parents, and the kids are very much in the foreground, but it’s also the fun, mystery of being single.
When you’re attached, it’s interesting to fun to see connections made, you know romance on TV is always nice. I guess I got the sense that Angie and Will do balance each other out. Angie on one end is very closed off. She’s a one-woman army. She had to raise her son by herself. The child’s father walked out on her. She’s had relationships with guys over the years, but it never really has gotten past a certain point because she won’t let it. She’s hardened and understandably so. There’s Will who is sensitive and super-dad. He goes above and beyond. He does extra everything. Like the cutting of the crusts and beyond. Angie just is a full-time mom and is trying to get ahead in her career and trying to make ends meet. I can glue together and help my kid at midnight for a project the night before it’s due. She gets by. I think her being tough is a defense mechanism that Will is able to whip out the sensitivity in her. He makes her a little lighter. She sees that it’s ok to be sensitive and that it’s ok to cry. I think they balance each other out – he wears his heart on the sleeve and she is the exact opposite. I think it’s good, and he’s really funny too.
It’s such a great cast. You’ve all done so much in the past. What is it like on a set with such a talented group of actors?
It’s obviously collaborative with the directors and writers, but it doesn’t stop at the actors. In particular, Taran Killam has been encouraging and supportive. He’s really fun and funny to just watch and laugh with. He really inspires and encourages me to pitch jokes. He really encourages me to just step outside my comfort zone and to push for jokes. He has so much background and experience. I put Brad up there with encouragement.
Sometimes we’ll talk about what we’re going to riff on. We get a few takes to do that, and we’re given the space to do that. It’s hard to put into words because a lot of what you see is us having fun. It’s natural. It’s us having a friend group dynamic and the relationship is real. I think that’s why it translates.
Talk about the fun episodes we have coming up.
She’s sending her kid away to camp for a long time. She’s created a narrative for herself where she is so excited to send her kid away and have time for herself which is something that mothers never have. He leaves and she spins out. It’s a reminder that he’s growing up, and he’s going to leave someday. She discovers that just perhaps other events have led her to be this hardened closed-off tough person, but deep down she has a fear of abandonment and issues of control and letting go and letting herself go. Will really helps her discover that so they go on this road trip to track down Graham’s father who has never been in his life. It’s a serious topic and unfortunately happens in real life a lot more than it should. I think we find a way to keep it a comedy and to bring lightness to the situation. I think it brings Angie and Will closer together. I love days and episodes when I work with Taran. Me going on a road trip with him was so exciting. I read that and thought, We’re going to hang in a car together for five days.’
Lance Bass is on our show. I did not get to meet him. He sings. He performs. The kids sing and perform. Everyone is very musically talented. My character has broken up with her boyfriend that she’s been dating for a year and finally says, “I love you.” That’s a big revelation for her.
A lot of funny enough and dramatic things are happening. My real-life husband is playing Graham’s father so that was really fun.
I’ve worked with him before, and it was great to have him come on a show that means so much to me. He sends me off to work every day. I get to bring him to work. I didn’t have many scenes with him, it was more him and Taran and they’re really great and funny.
We’re done for the season.
You’ve got a great female presence behind the production. What does that feel like?
It feels completely normal. it doesn’t feel like there’s a hierarchy. It just feels normal. It’s incredibly productive and supportive. They’re very open to suggestions and collaboration. I think it’s important to them and for us to work together to make sure that the female characters have their own adventures and discussions and jokes that aren’t just about relationships and men and relationships with men. It’s important that we’re not cat fighting and bickering. We have our ears pricked to letting the characters be equal. It’s the exact same, they’re incredibly competent and it’s just better because there are more women.