ADTV’s Jalal Haddad asks the Television Academy to strongly consider Playing House in all categories.
Female comedy duos are incredibly popular on television right now. Broad City. Grace & Frankie. Garfunkel & Oates. Even Girls. Given that, why is no one, especially Emmy voters, paying attention to Playing House? The show stars Lennon Parham as Maggie and Jessica St. Clair as Emma. They are lifelong best friends who move in together after a pregnant Maggie leaves her cheating and useless husband. Together they raise Maggie’s baby in the small Connecticut town they grew up in.
As best friends they seamlessly weave in and out of broad comedy and endearing sentimentality in moments where they pretend to be lesbian partners to befriend Maggie’s cool new doctor to the birth of baby Charlotte. They support each other no matter what, and the writers never rely on creating catty drama between the lifelong best friends to add conflict. Emma supports Maggie through her divorce and Emma supports Maggie while she fights with her mom “Nell Carter” who is writing an autobiographical play “Cashmere Burka.”
Parham and St. Clair’s flawless chemistry is undeniable. The duo is able to riff off of each other in a variety of scenarios from making Tinder profiles to brainstorming how to sneak into a Kenny Loggins concert. Their chemistry comes as no surprise since they have been collaborating creatively for years. They’ve performed together everywhere from the Upright Citizens Brigade to NBC’s Best Friends Forever and Comedy Bang Bang. They’ve both also had individual significant guest roles on Emmy favorite Veep. This chemistry allows them to create probably the most honest portrayal of best friendship (and in a way soul mates) on television. They’re able to easily switch from a scene where they are breaking into Bird Bones’ house to save a puppet to a scene where they are both crying as Emma promises to help Maggie raise her baby as she achieves her dream of becoming a nurse.
Parham and St. Claire clearly have a passion for home improvement/self-help TV shows and it is apparent in the entire aesthetic of Playing House. Every sterile, pastel painted room looks like its straight out of HGTV and while at first I couldn’t relate to the aesthetic references I embraced them fully when the writers started to utilize it. Characters will randomly reference Say Yes to The Dress and even storylines regarding The Property Brothers. In one scene Maggie describes her dream about the brothers: “They took off my tarp and there was no carpet, even though there is carpet in real life!” The Scott brothers even showed up for a cameo later in the episode. Any show that embraces The Property Brothers is perfect in my book (and Margo Martindale’s too!).
The supporting cast is also filled with countless Emmy favorites. Keegan-Michael Key (Emmy nominee for Key and Peele) plays a local cop and Emma’s high school boyfriend. He also received a Critics Choice nomination for his performance on Playing House last winter. Jane Kaczamerek (Emmy nominee for Malcolm in the Middle) has a reoccurring role as Emma’s estranged mother who writes slam poetry under the pseudonym Phylicia Rashad. Zach Woods (from Emmy nominated shows The Office, Silicon Valley, and Veep) is the standout of the supporting cast as Maggie’s younger brother/doula. How many critically acclaimed shows does oods need to be a scene stealer on before he is finally recognized by the Emmys?
So Emmy voters, I beg of you, please remember St. Clair, Parham, and Playing House as a whole when you fill out your ballots next month. Take a break from all of the male driven comedies that you usually devote time to and watch “Hello, Old Friend” (Ep. 1), “Sleepless in Pinebrook” (Ep. 2), and “Celebrate Me Scones” (Ep. 8). You won’t be disappointed.
Playing House is available for streaming online.