The workplace comedy, which follows McHale’s outdoor-magazine reporter character as he transitions to a job in the publication’s millenial-run digital department, is “a big sandbox,” McHale told an audience Wednesday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. “That’s how I felt about Community when I first read it.”
McHale, whose most recent TV gig was playing conspiracy theorist/Scully romancer Tad O’Malley in Fox’s X-Files revival, said that the role of a technology-challenged veteran journalist forced to interact with a staff full of 20-somethings was appealing on several levels.
Plus, “I’ve always wanted to do a four-camera sitcom,” he added. “You always hear the criticism about them, but I believe they are funny.”
McHale joined castmates Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Ko, Shaun Brown, Chris Williams, Stephen Fry and Susannah Fielding — as well as executive producers Chris Harris and Mike Gibbons — for a panel discussion about the workplace comedy. A few highlights:
* Harris and Gibbons, particularly, took heat from some millennial reporters for describing millennials as being “coddled” and insisting on an “overly PC workplace.” Gibbons insisted that the series pokes equal fun of the older employees, represented by McHale and Fry, and that the concept came out of “me being made fun of by millennials” while he was headwriter at The Late Late Show With James Corden. “It just occurred to me, when is 40-something the new 80?” He added, “There’s going to be an equal amount of jokes… made at the Gen-Xers and how they are made to feel so old so quickly.”
* Some of the younger cast members then jumped in to defend the series’ humor. “Millennials saying it’s offensive to millennials plays into what we’re talking about,” Brown said, laughing. Ko later added that the the writing staff was very open to input from the series’ own millennials, such as changing her character’s response from “Yes” to “Yass” in an episode. “If we’re doing it right, both sides are making fun of both sides and learning something from each other,” Harris said.
* Gibbons previewed a few of The Great Indoors‘ upcoming episodes, including one about camping, one about finding Mintz-Plasse’s Clark a better living situation than the “microapartment” in which he dwells, and one about getting McHale’s Jack into the modern dating scene.
The Great Indoors premieres Thursday, Oct. 27, at 8:30/7:30c.