Last season, Whitney‘s lead gal dealt with a lot of baggage, made a fool of herself, waded through a commitment crisis and emerged a more centered individual.
This season, star and executive producer Whitney Cummings says, it’s Alex’s turn to be the trainwreck.
“We’re going to get more into Alex’s damage and what his fears are,” she explains, adding that she’d love to put co-star Chris D’Elia‘s character on a trajectory just as messy as her own alter ego’s Season 1 path.
“We ended up doing this really cool thing where the pilot started with the Whitney character saying, ‘I’ll never get married. I hate marriage.’ By the end of the season, she’s fighting tooth and nail to get down to City Hall to get married,” Cummings says. “It’s kind of cool how we were able to incrementally arc that growth through the 22 episodes.” (As to whether the pair officially tied the knot off-screen during the break, we’ll let Cummings tell you that herself.)
Also in Whitney‘s sophomore season, which bows Wednesday (NBC, 8/7c ): The return of Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle) as Whitney’s mom, a new cast member and a stronger focus on the show’s central couple. Read on to hear what Cummings has to say about the season ahead.
TVLINE | What can you tell me about the premiere? When we left off, Alex and Whitney had decided not to get married.
By the end of the season, we were trying to get married but all of these obstacles were thrown in our way and fate was kinda telling us that doing it the traditional way really wasn’t for us. So we ended up getting tattoos, “I Do” tattoos. When we start back, we sort of decide that this is our version of marriage. We are committed. So we start out the beginning of the season just being married.
TVLINE | Would you have still plotted everything like that – the proposal and the way it resolved – in the first season if you’d known you had another season or two ahead?
Yes. Having been obviously new in terms of creating a TV show, I handle it as if I’m going to do this for 10 years — although that’s usually not the case. [Laughs] I have this very healthy, probably borderline unsettling, amount of delusion and never break stories or arcs rushing, like, “What if this is our last show ever?” I just try to tell it in real time, for lack of a better word, whatever that is.
TVLINE | We saw a lot of your character trying to avoid relationship boredom in the first season. But as one settles into a relationship, things aren’t always unpredictable – and that’s part of its charm. Is Whitney still going to be looking to keep everything exciting?
I think that’s a really big fear in a lot of relationships… Things get routine which, I think, especially in my life right now, routine to me is very sexy. [Laughs] I love it… [Whitney's] point of view is going to change a bit because she’s growing and changing. In the first season, we saw this somewhat neurotic, very damaged woman in this really good relationship and kind of not believing it… So this character’s overcome so many fears and so much of her damage and anxieties and the next season, we’re going to get more into his fears and anxieties.
TVLINE | What are some of his fears?
We just broke a beautiful episode that’s a lot about how he’s like, ‘There’s never been any of room for my damage because you have so much of it.” It’s always been about [Whitney]. And now that I’ve healed a lot of my damage and I’m totally committed to being a wife and being in this monogamous, committed relationship forever and overcome that fear and I’m like, woah, I’m happy for the first time in my life, that opens up some space for him… And he always had this perfect family. His parents have been married for 40 years. We’re going to see some cracks in his family upbringing, which we thought was sort of a fairytale family.
TVLINE | Does that mean we’re going to have more episodes devoted to Drunk Alex?
Everyone’s obsessed with Drunk Alex! And you want to know the funny thing? Chris D’Elia, the actor, has never been drunk in his life. He’s never done a drug or drank alcohol in his entire life – which kinda makes sense, because if you’re not drinking, you can actually observe drunk people. Can you believe that? Never had a drop of alcohol. It’s kind of a little bit tricky, because I want to do more Drunk Alex but my mom character on the show is an alcoholic, Roxanne’s kind of an alcoholic. So if Chris starts drinking too much, the show is basically going to turn into Intervention. [Laughs] I worry a little bit about the example we’re setting. [Whitney is] always taking Xanax and sleeping pills. It’s like, who are these people? But yes, we will of course see some more Drunk Alex.
TVLINE | Let’s talk about the ensemble. You lost Maulik Pancholy this year.
That was because [his character] was engaged to the Lily character and then once they broke up, he wasn’t really tethered to the group. It was getting a little bit tricky. The characters will still be very prominent, but it will all be accelerating our A stories so we can really service one story really well. I think when you only have 22 minutes to tell a story on television, the temptation is to try to do too much sometimes. I really want to be able to get in-depth about things. And shows move so fast now. You’ll have a minute scene, a minute scene, a minute scene. And cut cut cut! We want to unapologetically capitalize on the fact that we’re a multicam and, in the tradition of multicams, be able to do these eight-, nine-page scenes in front of the audience and let them breathe and really get the most out of each premise and milk it for all its worth.
TVLINE | All of this talk about Alex and Whitney going a little deeper – does that mean we’ll see them in therapy again? Will Chelsea Handler and John Cleese, who played therapists in Season 1, be back?
It’s looking very good for Miss Chelsea to come back. You never know with her and her drinking schedule. But I have a very, very good story lined up for Miss Chelsea. I have a very, very good story lined up with Mr. John Cleese. So hopefully, we will be getting them back.
TVLINE | Is there any new love prospect for Lily?
Yes… We’re going to have her out and hopefully get some fun, sexy weirdos on the show. And then our new series regular [Tone Bell, as one of Alex's pals] could maybe be a love interest. So she’s got all sorts of stuff comin’ up.
TVLINE | What can you tell me about Roxanne?
Mark is going to really challenge her to evaluate her entire belief system. Mark is the ultimate challenge for her. Mark… was the first person to ever call her out on her s— and really be like, “The time has expired. The time you get to be bitter about your divorce has expired.”
TVLINE | Kids: Will they even be part of the conversation this season?
It’s like any couple. As soon as you tie the knot, [people are] like, “So when are you going to have kids?” And you’re like, OK, just give me a minute! But yes, I think that is going to come up. There’s no rush on that. Again, I’m not treating it as if we’re going to be cancelled in six episodes. My prophecy for the series is to let Whitney’s character grow and evolve as I do in real life so I know what I’m writing for her. For me, I don’t think I can write episodes about kids and babies until in my real life I’m there. So it’s just not something that I can really access. So I’m going to wait, whether it’s Season 3, Season 6, I’m going to wait on the kids thing until I’m really there in my actual life — which I am not yet, I can assure you.