In "Playing House," USA's new sitcom premiering Tuesday, April 29 at 10 p.m., Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair play longtime best friends. In real life, they actually are. The authenticity of their relationship fuels both humor and heart in this quirky, playful take on young-adulthood and small-town life. The first episode sees businesswoman Emma (St. Clair) return home to attend the baby shower of Maggie (Parham). When Maggie's husband is caught in a hilariously inappropriate online love affair, Emma decides to stay and help Maggie raise the child. Keegan-Michael Key ("Key and Peele”) and Jane Kaczmarek (“Malcolm in the Middle”) round out a fantastic supporting cast. We caught up with Parham and St. Clair to discuss steaks, rattan furniture and a fake mustache.
Is it true that, by the time you started shooting, Lennon in fact was pregnant?
LP: I was the exact amount pregnant as my character Maggie when we shot the pilot.
JSC: Eight and a half months. She’s a method actor.
LP: And Jess was secretly pregnant.
JSC: So I was throwing up in bushes and forcing Lennon to order me extra servings of steak, as if she were feeding a baby tiger.
You can be your real self — including your worst self — around childhood friends. Has it been fun to play with that dynamic?
LP: Absolutely. The show is about how your childhood friend is the one who knows you best; and in adult life, you become this other person a bit, but the childhood you is always there.
JSC: My character, Emma, comes back to her hometown from Shanghai where she’s been for ten years, and for her it’s all about accepting her roots.
LP: Emma and Maggie come together when they’re both at crossroads, and since they know each other best they’re the ones who can really help and also call each other out.
What's it like to be one of the first original sitcoms on USA?
LP: It’s been a dream. They let us do an episode where I dress as a man, so that’s all I need. A trucker hat and a mustache the color of a tabby cat.
JSC: You rarely get the note from someone, "We want more of your voice," but USA tells us that, so, I mean, come on.
LP: We couldn’t be happier.
JSC: Lennon’s just glad that they let her dress as a man.
Your last show together [NBC's 2012 sitcom "Best Friends Forever"] represented an earlier time in your lives, and "Playing House" is the current incarnation. So what will be next?
JSC: The hope is that this show goes for a while and we see the characters grow, fall in love, find their passions.
LP: And then we’d make a "Golden Girls" type of show. Just a bunch of sassy broads sittin’ on rattan furniture.
JSC: We already have the furniture on our set now. We’d just steal it.
LP: Already done.
JSC: What? Lennon. We need that for Season 2.
LP: Too late. It’s halfway to Argentina.