With TBS’ The Detour (airing Mondays at 9/8c and already renewed for Season 2), Natalie Zea is enjoying a detour into comedy, after a string of roles on dramas that ranged from sudsy to serious to, well, serial killery.
Describing it as a mix of National Lampoon’s Vacation (obviously) and Little Miss Sunshine, The Detour “has a real indie feel to it,” Zea offers. Jason Jones — who co-created the series with Samantha Bee (and plays hapless husband Nate) — “has created this tone that you don’t see much on television,” Zea says, “and I think that’s what people are responding to as being really fresh.”
As Robin and Nate, Zea and Jones (barely) mind a pair of kids as they make an impetuous drive from Syracuse, N.Y. to Ft. Lauderdale. Already, in last week’s sneak preview, there was a “life event” for daughter Delillah (and in the most unexpected of places), as well as accusations of no less than child abduction. But whereas the Vacation movies spring almost entirely off of Clark Griswold’s buffoonery, Zea’s Robin is far from being the straight arrow who “blows her bangs up” at her husband’s antics. (In this week’s episode, for example, she gets way too stoned at too wrong a time, setting the stage for, among other things, an improvised hotel jig set to Muzak.)
“I was so attracted to her,” Zea says, “because when I read the pilot, not only had I not read anything like this, but I certainly hadn’t read anything like this that was being offered to me. I’m always sort of the ‘go-to support,’ and she gets to be the mess while Jason is more of the straight man. It felt like such a home run.”
Also on the itinerary for Robin is her getting ordained by an online ministry, only to have her best of intentions “end up s—ting all over her,” Zea previews with a laugh. “This show is pretty boundary-pushing, but that episode in particular was like, ‘Oh my God, are we really doing this??'”
On the occasion of Zea’s head-first dive into raucous comedy, TVLine invited the actress to revisit some of her past roles, from her Harmony-ous soap debut to the Southern-fried drama that holds a “soft spot” in her heart.