In the controversial new Netflix series Insatiable, Alyssa Milano plays Coralee, a would-be socialite who finds herself in the crosshairs of a vengeful girl played by Debby Ryan. Fans more familiar with her work in “Charmed” may think it a departure, but with credits as varied as Who’s the Boss? and My Name Is Earl, Milano’s acting resume is ripe for a show precisely like this.
Alyssa Milano talks Insatiable, challenges of dark humor
“It's something that I really enjoy doing. I find it to be much more of a challenge to do comedy, and to be able to find comedy within a character,” Alyssa Milano explains. “I've been acting now for 35 years, so I look for things that I feel will challenge me. It’s also a big part of who I am as a person.”
“I think we've all experienced a tragedy that has been relieved by the giggles at some point in our lives. I look at it as a nervous system reboot,” says Milano. “I think that this show's comedy, and comedy across the board, really stems from a nervous system reboot. It can be so dark, and we are touching on such important thematic issues, that it needs to have those funny moments as a reprieve. Moments where you can breathe. These are the roles that I really dig playing. There’s something attractive about playing things that surprise people.”
She goes on to compare working on Insatiable with her recent experience on Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later, in which she played the seemingly murderous nanny Renata. Milano’s comparison, of course, rests on both series’ commitment to dark comedy, but it also ties to the “safety net” their respective creators employ for the cast.
“Insatiable was great because I was able to take risks. Lauren Gussis was such an incredible safety net, and so was David Wain on Wet Hot,” she says. “You can look at people David and Michael Ian Black and Adam Scott and be too scared to be funny, but what all great comedy showrunners and directors have in common is an ability to make you feel like you're the funniest person in the room. That safety net really enables you to take more risks. That's what David was able to do for me with Wet Hot, and what Lauren was able to do with ‘Insatiable.’”
“Coralee can definitely straddle that line of being over the top,” adds Milano, “and I think that at my best, there are moments where I succeeded and moments where I didn’t. Either way, Lauren was always there. She and the Insatiable team were always there to help me ground Coralee. As long as you can feel that groundedness, then it’s possible to make a character like Coralee believable in a sea of madness.”
Insatiable premieres Friday on Netflix.