Megan McLachlan is attending the 7th annual SCAD aTVfest in Atlanta, Ga., which features some of the best in television, including Ellie Kemper of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the premiere of Miracle Workers on TBS, and more!
SCAD aTVfest 2019 kicked off its festival showcasing some of the most buzzed-about comedies of the new year. I got a chance to catch up with the talent behind these shows and learned a little about God, pop music, and what life might have been like for Kimmy Schmidt on NBC.
Miracle Workers on TBS: A Show Even Churches Should Like
The Simon Rich (Man Seeking Woman) series Miracle Workers, about low-level angels tasked with saving the world, premieres on TBS on Tuesday, February 12, but aTVfest-goers were treated to a sneak peek, along with a Q&A with the cast and director. What do the angels have to do to prevent God (Steve Buscemi) from blowing up the earth? Make an awkward couple (Jon Bass, Sasha Compere) fall in love.
Bass, who plays Sam on the series, believes the show says a lot about the state of humanity. “[Humans are] so bad at dating,” jokes Bass. “We have 500 apps and we still can’t get with anyone.”
Karan Soni, one of God’s assistants, finds it hopeful to think of God as Steve Buscemi. “Steve in real life is the kindest, sweetest man,” says Soni. “At the core of it, it’s all these angels and God working to help these people, these humans. That’s a comforting thought. The show has a sweet center.”
“Our creator Simon Rich said something beautiful,” says Compere, who plays the adorably gawky Laura. “There’s a line in Genesis that says, ‘And so God created man in his image.'” In this case the image of Buscemi! “So we’re all flawed. I think it’s a beautiful way to see it.”
With the show as a limited series, director Jorma Taccone (MacGruber, Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping) likes being able to tell a more compact story. “It feels like a long movie,” he says. “It feels bingeable, I’m using airquotes. It just allows you to mainline everything.”
He also believes that this is a show with a message. “At its core, this show has real values: Human connection, love overall, and that love is going to save the world. I think that is sweet, very moral, human feeling.”
Ellie Kemper and The End of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Following a screening of the series finale of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Ellie Kemper talked to a packed audience about her favorite Office moments and episodes, whether a Dunder Mifflin reunion could ever happen (she says it would have to be a one-off holiday episode), and what her next acting plans are (nothing at the moment!).
Before the screening, I asked her about a Sliding Doors scenario where Kimmy would have stayed on NBC (where it was originally slated to be) instead of Netflix.
“That would have been interesting to see,” says Kemper. “Tina [Fey] and Robert [Carlock] wrote the pilot with NBC in mind. When the show moved to Netflix, they didn’t change any of that. But I wonder how it would have been different. Kimmy is a really weird show. It may not have been able to be as weird!”
The Other Two Joins Hulu’s Casual in Dysfunctional Brother-Sister Canon
The Other Two follows two siblings (Drew Tarver, Helene Yorke) who struggle with their place in the world while they watch their 13-year-old kid brother (Case Walker) rise to fame with songs like “Marry U at Recess.”
Show creators Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider are no stranger to hilarious songs, as former SNL writers known for sketches like “(Do It On My) Twin Bed” and “First Got Horny 2 U.” However, the tunes on this show come from a Golden Globe-nominated source.
“We collaborated on those songs with the songwriter Leland, who also writes for Troye Sivon and Ariana Grande,” says series Schneider. “But it makes all the songs feel so more authentic.”
“Now that the show’s out, that’s one of the things we’re very excited about,” says Kelly. “The music is very fun and dumb.”
From their witty banter in real life, The Other Two stars Yorke and Tarver almost appear like they’re actually siblings, a connection Tarver felt early on.
“I remember at one point during the audition,” says Tarver,” I said something about being sad, and she [Yorke] touched my head, and I thought, yeah, that makes sense. We would touch each other’s heads. It was a nice, tactile moment. She’s just a blast to hang out with, and we quickly became friends.”
Tarver, who is openly bisexual, also talks about representing queer television characters. “I was excited to play storylines that involved darker stuff about what it’s like after you come out, dealing with when you’re not feeling completely comfortable yet and internalized homophobia that Cary’s going through. It was very important to me to have those things on screen. I wish I could have seen more of that on screen while discovering my sexuality.”
With Broad City ending, The Other Two could fill a void on Comedy Central, especially since it’s one of the most praised shows of the season.
“It’s amazing to be in something that’s so almost universally beloved and getting recognition we were hoping it would get,” says Yorke, who plays Brooke. “It’s very cool. Especially since we shot the pilot like a year and a half ago.”
Andrea Savage is Not Sorry for Crashing the Men’s Club with I’m Sorry
From Seinfeld to Master of None, it seems like every show about a comedian has a man at the center of it. Andrea Savage, creator and star of I’m Sorry on Tru TV, set out to change that.
“It was pretty much all male-dominated,” says Savage. “Better Things [with Pamela Adlon] was about to come out around the time I was working on my show, so really I was like, why has no woman ever done this? I wanted to do a single-point of view series that showed a nuanced character and got to use my real stories.”
But instead of being a female take on these other series, it fits confidently into the genre with Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, and Louis C.K.
“Andrea’s incredibly positive as a person,” says executive producer Joey Slamon, “which brings a different element to the show as opposed to the male dominated ones. We never wanted to write a show for women specifically.”
“It really is just let’s just write what we like and what we think is relatable and real,” says Savage, “and hopefully men and women will all like it.”
The series, now in its second season, has already produced some legendary episodes, including “Racist Daughter,” based on Savage’s real-life dilemma of her four-year-old rebuffing skin-color that’s not white.
In a Q&A after an I’m Sorry screening, co-star [and Atlanta native] Gary Anthony Williams admitted that it’s his favorite episode, especially when his character approaches her daughter and quickly backs away, citing there’s nothing he can do.
“When I first did the show, Andrea gave me one note for my character, ‘He’s concerned and he likes to be involved.'”
Day 2 of SCAD aTVfest will include Hulu’s Pen15, a women’s panel, and more!