The holidays are here, and no matter what you celebrate, getting together with family is always a recipe for some colorful moments, and in Netflix’s latest multi-cam sitcom “Merry Happy Whatever” that’s exactly what you get. Take one ambitious daughter coming home from the west coast to Philadelphia (Bridgit Mendler), add in a sprinkle of a loveable yet clueless “rockstar” boyfriend (Brent Morin), a dash of a sister who is going through some immense changes in her life (Ashley Tisdale), layers of other relatives in a whacky tradition-based family and finish it off with a strict yet fiercely loyal father (Dennis Quaid) and you’ve got yourself one massive feast of a relatable show that is timed perfectly to the holiday season. Brent Morin, Bridgit Mendler and Ashley Tisdale all sat down with Metro to chat about the show, what they love about having the story set around the holidays and dive into what they hope audiences take away from “Merry Happy Whatever.”
The stars of Netflix’s latest sitcom give the scoop on the new holiday show “Merry Happy Whatever”
How would you describe your characters?
Brent: Matt is a very optimistic hopeless romantic who has a decent sense of delusional confidence, but his heart is always in the right place. He’s got this ‘everything is going to be okay and I accept you for who you are’ kind of attitude, and Dennis Quaid’s character is the polar opposite of that —- hence the conflict.
Bridgit: I would describe Emmy as a young career lady, but she also has this boyfriend, they’re kind of this unconventional pair, but they still have a lot of love for each other. Her family is very unfamiliar with Brett’s sort of rockstar lifestyle, so when Emmy brings him home for the holidays she’s a little nervous about how they will respond. The Quinn family is more conservative and Emmy sort of reverts back into that which causes some strain in her relationship. But ultimately, she really loves her family and Matt and she wants everybody to get along well.
Ashley: Kayla is the middle child and she’s a bit dramatic, but she’s also faced with a lot of challenges throughout the season, so I think there’s a reason for her emotional turbulence.
What do you particularly like about the multi-camera sitcom type of comedy?
Brent: I think that multi-cam sitcoms have always been a great kind of transition for stand-up comics. It’s normal for an anxious comedian to kind of ad-lib, but I wanted to stick to what was on the page because I liked the story so much. For me personally, I moved out here to be an actor and a filmmaker, so just to be able to act aside from my comedy and getting to work with people like Dennis, Bridgit, Adam and Ashley — it’s just really nice to be involved in that kind of setting and learn from professionals.
Bridgit: The thing that I like about the multi-cam comedy is that it’s kind of musical in its cadence. There is a lot of rhythm to how jokes fit together and particularly with Tucker’s [Cawley] style of approaching multi-cam, he has a very specific vision for how lines will be delivered — it’s like he hears it all in his head. So it felt like we were really coordinating together and doing this choreographed piece.
Why do you think having the holidays as the backdrop works for this particular storyline?
Brent: Well, families fight and families are dysfunctional, more often than not in sitcoms you may not see that aspect of it—- you do with this show though which is what I love. So I think having Christmas and New Year’s as the backdrop to this show not only allows for certain things to come out and resonate a little harder, it also allows that kind of sweetness too, because you’re also going to be more loving around the holidays and really appreciate the people around you.
Ashley: I think that setting it during the holidays works especially when all of the kids come home and just the stress around that with what they are each going through.
Bridgit: I think it’s just something about this time of year that is reflective for people. You go back home, you reconnect with family and it makes you nostalgic for the way things used to be or frustrated about the difficulty of life, and it challenges you to confront the events of your own life. What you see with the characters are these people bringing the challenges of their own life into the Christmas season, a lot of stuff comes to the surface and the family is forced to process it all at once.
They were potentially thinking of an anthology series focusing on different holidays each season, what holiday would you like to see be the setting next?
Brent: I don’t really know where the show is going, that’s all on Tucker the mastermind, but someone had mentioned Fourth of July in the Bahamas and I would not be opposed to that. I think the way the show is set up, it could go in any direction. But definitely not Thanksgiving, I have no will power and would not want to gain 20 pounds in one season.
Bridgit: April Fool’s Day: a whole season of pranks.
Ashley: I think Fourth of July would be really fun, especially since we shoot during the summer, that’d be really nice and very patriotic.
Overall on set, how was it working with everyone?
Brent: It was amazing. You always run the risk of there being drama, but that didn’t happen on this show. Everybody gets along like a little family to be honest. I was a production assistant on “Conan” for four years before landing my first sitcom, so I truly believe it starts from the top — Conan [O’Brien] was such a sweet and loving guy and it’s the same here with Dennis. He was so open, loving and ready to give advice, he even came to a stand-up show of mine which I thought was hilarious.
Ashley: We all really organically became a family. Dennis set the tone for that, just who he is as an actor and person.
What do you hope audiences take away from the show?
Brent: My hope is that they take away that we are not as different as we think we are, we’re not alone. The great thing about Netflix is that you can binge the show and it comes out right by the holidays, so my hope is that there is a Matt who is visiting a family and they put on this show and it helps him.
Ashley: I hope they fall in love with the Quinn family. I fell in love with the Quinn family watching it, they’re such a cute and crazy family but I love that they have all of these traditions and they make an effort —- there is just a lot of love between them.
Bridgit: I hope that they can find things that they identify with in the show and that they can laugh and sympathize with the characters and feel even more for all of the quirky and eccentric things that are bound to come up in the holiday season.
The first season of “Merry Happy Whatever” drops on Netflix Nov. 28