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Interview: Call Me Kat's Mayim Bialik, Swoosie Kurtz, & Kyla Pratt on Character Growth & More in Season 3

***The following interview contains slight spoilers for 3.01***

Mayim Bialik, Swoosie Kurtz, and Kyla PrattLast night FOX’s comedy series, Call Me Kat, returned with all-new episodes for a third season. At the end of last season, Kat (Mayim Bialik) left on vacation to get away from the stress of running her business, leaving her best friend, Randi (Kyla Pratt) and Phil (Leslie Jordon) in charge. When Kat returns from her trip around the world, she’s decides to go with the flow and be more accepting, but she ends up becoming more confident and sticking up for what’s important to her, such as with keeping the business as a cat café rather than the juice bar Randi has turned it into in her absence.

According to Bialik, who spoke with SciFi Vision during a recent roundtable, the showrunners, Jim Patterson and Maria Ferrari, and producer Warren Bell thought this was a way to start fresh in some ways. “I think that they want[ed] a different take on these relationships,” she explained. “I think there's a lot more camaraderie that we're showing. We're exploring more of the relationships between the people, instead of having relationships with other things happening. Honestly, I was nervous about that, because I was thinking, ‘Gosh, it's just going to be boring, just all of us sitting [and] talking,’ and it's actually even, I think, [richer]. So, that's been a really wonderful shift. I think for Kat, again, Jim and Maria and Warren really wanted kind of a new start for her. I think having Randi take more ownership over the cafe and Kat having to kind of come into her own is giving us a little more space to expand the characters with a little bit more depth. I think that's sort of true all across the board,”

Mayim BialikThe actress added that she also loves what they are doing with the characters of her costars, Swoosie Kurtz, who plays her mother, and Pratt, as well.

Both actresses were also at the roundtable and weighed in.

“These writers are incredible, our writers room, magnificent,” Kurtz told the site. “I think the characters have become more real and more realized and more developed and multi-dimensional. Just remember, we're a 9:30 show now, and we're heading in a very sexualized direction, which is exciting. Especially my character Sheila has really started off this season with a bang. I think this applies to all of our characters…They're taking our characters to places that even we, as selfish, egotistical actors, would never have dreamed up. If they said to me, ‘Where do you want your character to go?’ and I wrote them notes on exactly [that], it's beyond that…It's quite thrilling. I have to say it's a revelation.”

“It's exciting for us,” agreed Pratt, “because I think being so in love with the process of a show being created and being able to be a part of it and developing the character, you're not completely in control of everything, because you're the actor. We look forward to seeing what we think the direction is that they're going to take us…our characters have more depth this year. So, it's exciting for us, as well as the viewers, to see where they're going to take us and what we're going to do.”

The cast also touched on how the characters are different from each other, yet very similar.

“Even now, looking on the screen and seeing the women that I work with, we're all women from different walks of life and different stages in our lives,” Pratt told SciFi Vision. “To see these different characters go through the same things and kind of everything being similar…[the characters are] so different in so many ways, but to see how they can relate, and to see how their friendship is and why it is…I love the direction that we're going in, and I think everybody who has loved the show and the new viewers that are going to come in, I think they're going to love it as well.”

“In some ways in the industry, it's like the elephant in the room, and it's not; we have a very diverse cast,” Bialik told the site. “We represent a variety of ages and colors and orientations, and, for us, I think it's something our writers are really leaning into in a really comfortable way. It's really special for us to have a cast where we are not segregated in our activities on camera or off.

“It's the first time, I think, that we've heard, Carter (Julian Grant) has a line to Randi after some particularly silly thing that Max (Cheyenne Jackson) and Kat say. He says, ‘We need more black friends.’ And to be honest, it's one of [our] funniest jokes, because it acknowledges that we are a diverse group, but we're also kind of not afraid to talk about it and lean into it in ways that are entertaining. I consider that something we're all really proud of.”

During the interview, Bialik also touched on Kat’s relationship with Max, “I think Max and Kat have been characters that we're sort of trying to put our finger on, but I think there's a lot with Kat and Max this year that's going to explain a lot, I think, about both of them,” teased the star.

The cast also revealed that there was love in the air for Kat’s mother and Phil as well this season.

Bialik also discussed her costar Ken Jennings guest appearing in last night’s episode, as well as former The Big Bang costar Kevin Sussman making an appearance later in the season.

To read all about it and more, read the full transcript below, and be sure to tune in to Call Me Kat, Thursdays on FOX.


***The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and length***

QUESTION:   I had a question for all three of you. You all came into this show with such impressive resumes, but what do you feel like you've learned, or how you've grown either as an actor or just as a person since you started the show?

KYLA PRATT:   I'll take that very quickly, because I tend to go on sets where I don't expect to learn anything from anyone. I'm always looking for something to learn, but usually I'm just like, “Oh, okay, whatever.” But me being able to work with these people that I'm working with, I'm constantly learning every single day. To be on a show with Mayim Bialik and Swoosie Kurtz, and our men, of course, and our cast, has been an amazing learning experience for me. That's the type of environment that I thrive in when I'm around people who I know, know more than me. And I know a lot, you know? [laughs] So, when I know that other people know different parts of this business, different energies combining, it's just been an amazing experience to be paired up with this little family that we've created.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   I will just say that I learn every single day something. I learned, I have to say, so much from Mayim Bialik about real life and about being on camera. She is like not only a great comedian and a great actress, she's a great born producer. And thank God, we have her as a producer, because she always has her eyes on everything. She does not miss a thing. But the important human part of that is that she has her eyes on other people, what they need at that moment. She's always picking up somebody or picking up something for them and handing it to them. She's always picking me up from the floor, which, by the way, I don't need. I can get up on myself. But she's always like, “Here, let me help you.” And, you know, just, every little [thing]. She just has got like 360 eyes and a huge heart that's 360 as well.

MAYIM BIALIK:   Thank you, Swoosie. You know, some people might say it's not good that I'm always looking at everything, and I have an opinion about everything, but it sounded really good the way you said it. I will echo what Kyla and Swoosie said. I've learned a lot more honestly about acting than I thought I would at this stage of life. You know, I came from Big Bang Theory, where I was there for almost a decade, and we were in a really smooth, awesome, fun rhythm, but sometimes being in a new situation allows you to learn new things. I've learned a tremendous amount about Kyla on a personal level, and I've learned so much about what makes her the comedian that she is and the woman that she is, and that's been really phenomenal. I ask her ridiculous questions, and she answers them about her life and how she grew up and her hair and all the things. And in terms of Swoosie, to work with someone who has such a stellar resume and stellar career, who still is learning, meaning I get to see her trying things out. We have an exceptional dialogue coach, Ron Bell, on our show since the first season. He's actually going to be directing his first this year, but just to see especially how we get to interact with him, I see him teaching us things that like Kyla said, I think we all came in like, “We're good. Just give us the words.” And it's got so many other layers when you still want to work - it sounds so cheesy - when you want to work at your craft, and you want to make it better and right, that's what it looks like. And honestly, Kyla’s timing, you know, people always talk about my timing, and like, “How do you know?” I have never witnessed and also gotten to see in real time, the way Kyla’s brain knows exactly how to time a joke. It's incredible.

KYLA PRATT:   Thank you Mayim.

QUESTION:   I'm just curious if if the work on Jeopardy has affected your approach to Kat at all.

MAYIM BIALIK:   Just my exhaustion level mostly. I think I've always been a person who talks like I'm speaking from a textbook. So, I don't think Jeopardy has made that more so? No, it's definitely changed sort of my scheduling and honestly, it's brought into focus how much energy I do still need for Call Me Kat. And last year, obviously, it was unusual circumstances to kind of burn the candle at both ends, but this year, I'm actually pacing out a lot more of my responsibilities to Jeopardy in a way that I don't feel takes away our time from what we do at Call Me Kat. So, I guess that's kind of a difference. But I'm very relieved. I get to wear sneakers on Call Me Kat most of the time. On Jeopardy, I always have to wear heels.

QUESTION:   …Will we see more Louisville?

MAYIM BIALIK:   I'm trying to think. We're only a couple episodes kind of ahead of where we've been filming. There're little tidbits here and there. I'm trying to think. Can either of you think of anything? We have stuff coming up.

QUESTION:   You had a little Cardinals sweatshirt on I noticed in the first episode of season three.

MAYIM BIALIK:   Oh, well, there's definitely more of that. We had a scene where some of the atmosphere were wearing Louisville stuff too. So, I know we've had it also. There's a plot coming up with Sheila that I just found out about yesterday that I think might involve some iconic things of Louisville for the senior set, as it were. I'll leave it at that.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   Am I going to get a date?

MAYIM BIALIK:   That's all I'm going to say.

QUESTION:   With a southern gentleman perhaps?

MAYIM BIALIK:   Is there any kind of southern man? No, they're all gentleman.

QUESTION:   Exactly. Well, yeah, I just want you to know that we're, where are looking at the backgrounds. We're watching what you wear. So it's not going unnoticed, and we appreciate it very much.

MAYIM BIALIK:   And we apologize for the lack of accents where appropriate. We’re just going to say that.

QUESTION:   When you mentioned dialogue. I thought, well, they have a -

MAYIM BIALIK:   He’s southern. He is from South Carolina, and I think if he had it his way, we would all speak more appropriately, but between Leslie's accent and me and Kyla trying to curb the way we normally speak - Swoosie always sounds like a proper thespian, so she can kind of be amorphous, but I feel terrible when I don't pronounce something correctly, but we try and do y’alls. We try and Southern it up a little bit appropriately.

Swoosie KurtzQUESTION:   I'll just ask you specifically about getting Ken Jennings on the show and having those scenes with him. Did you have to talk him into it? Did you just mention it, and he was there, like ready to go? How did that come about?

MAYIM BIALIK:   That comes about from higher ups than me. We were trying to think of some really fun way to start season three, and I think I was asked, like, “What would you think about it?” I said, “I think it'd be amazing.” I said, “I don't think he'll do it, though. He's very busy.” Apparently, he was happy to do it. He showed up on set so thrilled. He had never been on a set like that before. And we had a great time with him. I mean, they were airing the episode in our dressing rooms for some reason on a break yesterday, and he's terrific. He's really funny. He had a great sense of humor about us teasing him. We think it's a really fun kind of, you know, tongue in cheek crossover. Also, he's a huge icon in terms of where we're at in media, like he is a big deal, and we're very happy to have him. So, it was really, really fun.

QUESTION:   A sitcom is such a classic and effective format. What do you enjoy the most about this format and the way it’s used in Call Me Kat?

MAYIM BIALIK:   Kyla, you want to go first again?

KYLA PRATT:   Sure. I've done sitcom my entire life, and, to me, it just feels like home. First of all, the schedule is, as an actor, you're like, “This is the best schedule that you can possibly get,” especially having young children and wanting to still see them. Having a schedule like this is the most amazing thing, but being able to perform in front of people, to me, it feels like a theater experience without the super crowd. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to have audiences there, because we did premiere during the pandemic. But now it's like, even just performing for our crew, I think it gives the same energy of being on stage. It's a feeling of nervousness and being excited, but just knowing you want to hit these marks and get these jokes, and you want to make people laugh, and to me, there's nothing like sitcom. So, I'm so glad that we're making sure that it's coming back, because they tried to leave it alone for a little bit, and I missed it so much. I'm glad we get to be a part of a show that gets to give that energy to the world that I feel like we still need.

MAYIM BIALIK:   …I want to hear what Swoosie says.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   What I love about television in general, and especially sitcoms, is the speed. I love that I feel so challenged by that. Everything moves fast; every minute counts, because it costs so much and everything else. Like they throw new lines at you in the middle of of shooting. Even if we did have a live audience, they throw you new lines. They say “cut that one; that's out. We're going to skip from this speech on page 49, down to here, and then after that, instead of saying that, say this line,” and it couldn't be like a full paragraph. It could be a tongue twister, and you go, “Okay, I can do this.” It's fun and scary as hell, but it's like, “Okay, I think I got it.” You say it a couple of times yourself. And with our wonderful Wren coaching us on. It's just I kind of just find the speed so challenging, but I love it. Like, “Can I come up to this?” And then I feel very heroic when I actually do, the few times that I do.

MAYIM BIALIK:   Yeah, I echo both of those things. I do love the pacing. I do love the ability to get to do different versions of the same scene, basically all in one tidbit. And I do I feel like it's like a little play, and yes, I agree. I've been doing sitcom since my kids were an infant and a toddler. So, I was able to parent to the best of my ability with this kind of schedule, which is very different. Also, we're off on the summers, and I grew up with parents who were teachers. So, I thought all parents are off in the summer. So, I'm glad to also be a human who gets a summer vacation. But that aside, I come from the Chuck Lorre world and Swoosie does as well. Our co-showrunners this year are both former Chuck Lorre showrunners, so we have a very strong contingency of also writers from the Big Bang world this season. We have Jim Reynolds with us. So, we also are working with writers and showrunners who have worked with what I think is the most prolific and brilliant sitcom creator that we have seen. I believe Chuck Lorre has really figured out the formula. I also love that we get to be surrounded by people who know that formula and are hopefully helping us get closer to that.

SCIFI VISION:  Hello, thanks for talking to us. I love the show. Big fan. So, Kat, when she comes back, she's kind of accepting of everything, but she to me also seems more confident, and she kind of sticks up for what she wants. So, can you talk about sort of how, I guess, through the rest of the season that's going to affect her relationships with the different characters, and you can kind of each talk about that.

MAYIM BIALIK:   Yeah, I can speak to that. With Jim Patterson and Maria Ferrari as our showrunners and Warren Bell, who was with us at the end of last season, and who's with us again, in some ways, they kind of want to start fresh, and I'll let Swoosie kind of speak to that, in particular for her character. I think that they want a different take on these relationships. I think there's a lot more camaraderie that we're showing. We're exploring more of the relationships between the people, instead of having relationships with other things happening. Honestly, I was nervous about that, because I was thinking, “Gosh, it's just going to be boring, just all of us sitting [and] talking,” and it's actually even, I think, [richer]. So, that's been a really wonderful shift. I think for Kat, again, Jim and Maria and Warren really wanted kind of a new start for her. I think having Randi take more ownership over the cafe and Kat having to kind of come into her own is giving us a little more space to expand the characters with a little bit more depth. So, I think that's sort of true all across the board, and I've seen some online chatter of like, “How could you afford to go on a trip if the cafe was failing?” and people can be as creative as they want about sort of why we use that as a jumping point, but suffice it to say, there's a lot of things that happened at home. I think that's important, again, for giving our showrunners the ability to have a fresh start. I love what they're doing, I mean, honestly with Swoosie’s character, and with Kyla’s character as well, so I'll let them speak to that.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   These writers are incredible, our writers room, magnificent. I think the characters have become more real and and more realized and more developed, and multi-dimensional. I think they were heading, just remember, we're a 9:30 show now, and we're heading in a very sexualized direction, which is exciting. Especially my character Sheila is really started off this season with a bang. I think this applies to all of our characters. Tell me Kyla and Mayim if you agree, but they're taking our characters to places that even we, as selfish, egotistical actors would never have dreamed up. If they said to me, “Where do you want your character to go?” And I wrote them notes on exactly [that], it's beyond that. I’d go, “Oh my god, I can't believe that they're letting her do that or letting him do that,” and it's quite thrilling. I have to say it's a revelation. So, I am thrilled with that I think you guys are too, from what Mayim said, yeah.

KYLA PRATT:   It's exciting for us, because I think being so in love with the process of a show being created and being able to be a part of it and developing the character, you're not completely in control of everything, because you're the actor. We look forward to seeing what we think the direction is that they're going to take us, and just being able to see how their season three, like Mayim and Swoosie said, our characters have more depth this year. So, it's exciting for us, as well as the viewers, to see where they're going to take us and what we're going to do. Even now looking on the screen and seeing the women that I work with, we're all women from different walks of life and different stages in our lives, and to see these different characters go through the same things and kind of everything being similar or everything - like I love being able to talk to Swoosie’s character and be like, “Oh, she can teach me some things.” I just love where they're taking us. I love the things like -

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   Like kinky things that I did in my marriage I’m suddenly revealing.

KYLA PRATT:   I think Randi would love to learn all these things!

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   Yeah, and Kat is horrified, like, “Oh, I don't want to hear that.”

KYLA PRATT:   But even being around Mayim’s character, Kat and Randi, and they're so different in so many ways, but to see how they can relate, and to see how their friendship is and why it is, because half the time, Kat’s driving Randi crazy, but she's learning so much from her. So, just I love the direction that we're going in, and I think everybody who has loved the show and the new viewers that are going to come in, I think they're going to love it as well.

MAYIM BIALIK:   I also do want to mention, in some ways in the industry, it's like the elephant in the room, and it's not; we have a very diverse cast. We represent a variety of ages and colors and orientations, and, for us, I think it's something our writers are really leaning into in a really comfortable way. It's really special for us to have a cast where we are not segregated in our activities on camera or off. And, you know, it's the first time I think that we've heard Carter has a line to Randi after some particularly silly thing that, you know, Max and Kat say, he says, “We need more black friends.” And to be honest, it's one of my funniest jokes, because it acknowledges that we are a diverse group, but we're also kind of not afraid to talk about it and lean into it in ways that are entertaining. I consider that something we're all really proud of.

SCIFI VISION:  Well, I very much enjoyed the premiere.

MAYIM BIALIK:   Thank you.

QUESTION:   I love the storyline last season about panic attacks, especially from someone who suffers from them herself. Is that something that was taken from your real-life experience, or did you have to do some research into people who do suffer from it? And how will that carry over into season three?

MAYIM BIALIK:   Yeah, so the the combination of season two was sort of a cumulative, like stress and overwhelm that we wanted to show combined with sort of financial pressure from this business. And I thought it was really very special that Jim Patterson and Warren Bell wanted to incorporate that into sort of this breakdown that we see of someone who also tries to be so strong and so confident. I have suffered from from panic attacks and panic disorder, as it's called. I've found a lot of ways to cope with it that are really helpful in my present day. However, I love that it's part of a conversation on our show, and actually, Randi's character, we've had several references, and it's something that we're also going to be leaning into Randi's character experienced depression, and we've talked about some of her attachment issues surrounding relationships. I think it's, again, something that we are proud of that we've spoken about also not in a way to tease it or make fun of it, but to try and normalize it a bit. We will see more of that. A lot of the beginning of season three, as you'll see after the premiere, is kind of getting our comedy like jam back, meaning there's a lot of funny; there's a lot of fun, but I guess that's why twenty-two episodes is a real blessing. You get to tell a lot of stories throughout this season.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   Yeah, because the first season we had thirteen episodes, which is pretty normal for a new show these days. Nobody orders twenty-two of a new show pretty much. And then, the second season, we went from thirteen to eighteen, and now it's twenty-two. So, we took that as a huge vote of confidence from Fox.

MAYIM BIALIK:   Or a typo, and we'll take it.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   Exactly!

KYLA PRATT:   I just want to add very quickly, I think that's one of the things that I do love about the show is that we address topics such as panic attacks, such as depression, because I am completely about representation and representation mattering in so many ways, and mentally, I think it helps people, especially viewers, and us as well, become stronger once you realize that you're not the only person experiencing these things. Even someone like Mayim, who has been in this industry for so long, who so many people view and have on this pedestal in so many ways, for her to be able to talk about mental health and explain the different things that she's experienced is to show people that we are all human beings, and we all go through the same type of feelings, the same type of things, and you are not alone. I think when people know that they're not alone, it helps them figure out coping ways to deal with things. So, I'm glad that our show was able to bring that to the forefront as well.

QUESTION:   So, in a similar vein to what's been discussed already, it's come up, I think, in both roundtables that the show began filming during the pandemic, which obviously caused a lot of a lot of complications, but also, the pandemic across the world, it's fostered or created isolation, and TV kind of turned into a lifeline for a lot of people. I'm just curious if this experience of making the show during the pandemic has maybe given you all a new, deeper appreciation for the value of doing a show like this, the value of creating such a lifeline in the form of a of a comedy that's very warm hearted, and, as you say, engages with real issues.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   Oh, God, yes. I think so. I mean, and the positivity of the show, Kat’s positivity, and her ability to bounce back from bad news or a bad situation, I think it's so inspiring. I think it's something that we really needed back when we started, and we still need now. Yeah, the COVID thing was, I mean, that's basically the only place I go to is to work. I'm still a little bit careful, and we still wear masks and everything, and we test and all of that, but the actors have to take the masks down when we film, so I think it's still Russian Roulette a little bit.

Kyla PrattKYLA PRATT:   I think the crazy thing for me is that when everything was happening, when everything was shutting down, we were starting production. As a mother, as someone who is everything to everybody, everyday I give my all. Sometimes me going to work is like, “Oh, I have time to do what Kyla loves to do.” So, for that to be taken away, and then the fear of the unknown during that time and trying to understand what was going on. And wait, why are schools shutting down? Why are people getting sick? For us, I think, we all bonded so quickly, and we weren't sure if it was because of the energy that all of us had, or if it was because we were just very excited to be around people and people who we knew had the same feelings that we had of wanting to play pretend a little bit. I think it helped us so much just to be together. I don't know about everyone else, but I didn't realize how much everyone needed a show like this during that time. So, I just knew how much it helped me and when we aired, and you can see how the episodes were put together and the energy of Kat and her positivity. Like it's a show about a woman who goes against what society says is right for her and decides this is what makes me happy. How can you not take inspiration from that? So, I think all of us, like, I mean, I know for me personally, it may it helped me so much during this time. So, I'm happy that we were able to have this show created under the crazy circumstances that we did with goggles and shields and different things that we had to deal with. I'm just happy that we were able to bring that type of energy to people watching during such a crazy time.

MAYIM BIALIK:   I also want to add that many of us kind of forget other things that were happening two and a half and three years ago. You know, I have a mental health podcast, and the reason I started it was because everything was so insane, not just with the global pandemic, but politics was very rough at that time. There was a lot of fighting on the internet; there was a lot of crazy in the news. So, our show also came about at a time when a lot of the content that we were receiving was, I don't want to say negative, but it was contentious. It was controversial. It was, “which side are you on?” and, you know, “should you still talk to family who vote a different way?” It was a very intense time, and then add a global pandemic, and I think it was - I mean, for us, I used to say our first season that our billboard should say, “We may not be the best show on TV, but we're a show on TV,” because nothing else was in production. Now, I think we have a lot more confidence in what we do and, you know, the faith that Fox has in us. Fox does not have a lot of comedies, so the faith that Fox has also shown in us to want us to keep creating the way we do, and we really have a genuinely good time. We hear that from almost every guest cast member we have. They say like, “This is so much fun.” Someone once described it as like, “It feels like a high school play that you really want to be in.” That's what it felt like for them to come to work. I just think that's such a - it was Bob on set dressing, and he said that's what it feels like. It feels like we're all working on the best high school play ever.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   Totally.

QUESTION:   I wanted to ask about what can you share about plans for motherhood that Kat has once she returns to the cafe, and more importantly, why this message of single women forty plus having kids on their own, conceiving, is such an important message for women across the country right now?

MAYIM BIALIK:   One of the really special things that Darlene wanted to create when she created this show based on Miranda, was what does an American version of Miranda look like, and what are the things that a lot of women are dealing with here, and it's something that we wanted to introduce as not the main focal point of this character's life, because I don't think for anyone we want necessarily, or need, to see a show about, you know, a quirky woman and all of the men she wants to date and everything about her romantic and sexual life. However, when you think about autonomy, when you think about what you want, as a woman, when you think about being at an age that has so much complexity to it, in our culture, we're really trying to speak to some legitimate concerns and legitimate questions. I don't think we can speak to what's going to happen, but we did an episode about possibly freezing eggs last season, and I think it's something that resonates with so many women and people who love those women, in terms of the fact that we're most fertile at the time when our career is also often most fertile. So, for many women, there's a decision to make: do I have my life and my career, or do I have children, or what's that hybrid look like? I think we're going to get to explore that. We also explore it, honestly, in different ways, in stages with Randi and with Sheila. We're seeing women at different stages of life dealing with the things that are pressing, and that might be business; it might be dating. It might be autonomy and kind of knowing who you are at different stages of life. But that was the original thing we kind of wanted to show was women, in particular, at different stages of life. So, I hope we're doing that justice.

QUESTION:   This is sort of directed at Mayim, but it's not like I'm going to tell anybody else to not say anything. Could you speak, not in spoilery terms, of course, but about bringing Kevin in to the show, and, I guess, to compare bringing in a guest star that has solidified acting skills as opposed to bringing in someone who isn't used to the genre?

MAYIM BIALIK:   So, for those of you maybe not aware, Kevin Sussman from The Big Bang Theory has a really fun cameo on an episode that takes place in a kind of gaming bar. I think I can say that. Honestly, it's a really - I did want to mention, we've been talking a lot about kind of the three of us, but there's so much to the guys’ characters, and Julian, who plays Carter, his character has also been revealing a lot of things that we often don't talk about that men experience. We've had issues of dealing with sexuality, dealing with gender expression, dealing with, you know, being a single dad and a working dad. And this is a place where the plot centers around something that he's ashamed to admit that he has interest in because it's not either appropriate for dudes, or not his kind of dude. So, it's actually a really interesting plot that I think taps into some really interesting vulnerability, particularly for men, and I think, for men of color in particular, as Julian has kind of been helping me understand. But having Kevin just seemed like a complete slam dunk. Of course, we should try and have one of our friends come and play from that Big Bang world, especially surrounding D&D and that sort of thing. So, it was really fun. It was a very fun tag. He and I got to have a little scene together, even though I'm not in his plot, but it was really fun. And Mark Cendrowski has been directing us for the last bunch, and he was the director on Big Bang Theory for all the years. So, our online producer is from Big Bang Theory. So, we it was a really fun Big Bang reunion. Kyla wanted to be in The Big Bang picture. We let her like walk through the back.

KYLA PRATT:   I felt very left out. I got into a couple of them. It's not going to be huge, but I'm in there.

QUESTION:   For Mayim and Swoosie, talk about the how you bonded as mother and daughter and how that's evolved and kind of how that relationship can change or be uplifted by the fact that Kat is considering motherhood, especially so late in life.

MAYIM BIALIK:   I'll go first, just to say that when they suggested Swoosie for this, I said, “She's never going to do this; she is so fancy. She's so famous; she’s so awesome. I'm really, really honored and thrilled. I mean, I grew up watching her, so I was just so eager to get to literally be in her presence and see what it was like to watch her work. We're very different. We come from very kind of different worlds, but in the acting world, I feel very close to her. Ee kind of have a very, I mean, at least from my perspective, we have a very kind of sweet ease with each other. Our characters, we have kind of ups, and we have downs, but I love doing dramatic stuff with with her, and I love, obviously, seeing her be sassy and naughty and fresh. And her insults are some of the best. I think some of our best laughs are the things that Sheila says to Kat, but there is a lot of, you know, a combination of tenderness and some of that same trepidation, I think, that Sheila has about having a daughter who's not a lot like her. That's also something we don't often kind of see or talk about. In my real life, I was a lot more like my dad than I was like my mom. It's so interesting to have that dynamic. It's not always true, but that's been really kind of nice to lean into. We're very different, but I think it really works, anyway, in our favor, but I'll let Swoosie answer.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   Well, first of all, Mayim, thank you for what you said, that's very, goes right to my heart. Yeah, I just fell in love with my home on Zoom. I fell in love at first sight. So, I think we had this chemistry kind of from the beginning, like you say, an ease that we didn't really have to work at. And it was there in the writing. And even though I do continually undermine and, you know, to her face and filter constantly. It is out of love. Believe it or not. Yeah, and I think that the way the writing has evolved now, you can see, I mean, I think Sheila's overriding purpose in life, was to make sure that cat doesn't wind up alone, because Sheila's husband, you know, has died too early about it a couple of years ago. And she's alone. And she does not want that to wind up this way. And kept so independent like, oh, I don't need a man and you know, but now there are, you know, he brought a lot of men into her life, which is great. But I think second to not wanting her to be alone. When I go. I think she wants her to have you know, she wants a grandbaby and so we're working toward that, in that in the season a little better. I'll just drop a couple things. But you know, there's there was last season too, so but I think I think she could do without the grandbaby. If, if she has a man, if I could get a man into trap flight, that would be great. But the chemistry is really good between us, and we do have a lot of serious themes together, which is wonderful.

QUESTION:   So, how do you feel that your approach to your characters, all three of you, has changed since season one, seeing as the show is getting more mature?

KYLA PRATT:   I love Randi. I think Randi just says whatever she wants to say, and Randi’s surrounded by people that she doesn't understand how she's surrounded by these people. Like they're so strange, but she's really strange herself and just won't admit it. But I feel like Randi, I've fallen more in love with Randi, because during season one trying to develop a character while you're wearing a mask, while you're wearing a shield. I'm a very physical [person]. I couldn't hug my co stars and shake their hands, and even Swoosie and I came up with a different way of giving each other love by rubbing each other on the backs, back-to-back. That was hard for me. And now, I just feel more settled into her. I feel like I know who she is, but it also is exciting, because I never know what challenge they're gonna give Randi next. I feel like as soon as I feel like I know this character, they give me something. I'm like, “Oh, damn, like she, oh, okay. Like, this is what she's dealing with now.” I just I love being Randi. I think Randi tells it like it is, but she's also learning and finding herself, and I think we always have those people in our lives that are very confident and say how they feel, but then, underneath all of that, they just don't understand what's going on as well. So, I love getting more into depth with her and seeing who she is underneath all of that; I'm always dressed up. I'm always fly, you know, like, I'm excited to to learn even more about her and to show you guys more about her.

MAYIM BIALIK:   I think it's interesting. In some ways, I feel like I understand all of the characters better than I understand my own, and I think part of that is just what it's like to be a nontraditional leading female. Meaning there's a fine line to walk, especially with this character between - you know, I think this is the fine line women walk in general. I'm just sort of doing it through scripts and through presentation. You know, am I too much? Is it too loud? Do I need to pull back? What's too broad? What could a man get away with as a comedian that a female can't? So, those are things that I'm sort of constantly juggling, as our writers are sort of figuring that out. Our first season we had a lot more talking to the camera. Now we have less, and although I am a producer, a lot of those discussions and decisions are much more high level. What I try and do is make our words kind of sound most comfortable for us and advocate where necessary. But, for me, I mean, I'll be honest, it's been a little bit of a challenge, because I feel like we've been sort of searching for what kept sort of focus and trajectory is, and I do feel very confident this season in a way that I maybe wasn't as confident seasons one and two. I think that's because we have experience with each other, and our writers know us. It's been a lot of those things I think viewers may not notice, but I know that we do, because what you see is an edited version of five days of labor and hours and hours of footage that is spliced and sliced by our editor, Pam Marshall, who was just nominated for an Emmy I should say, but that's her dicing up what we work on all week. So, there's a lot more, I guess, to the process which might not be as interesting to the general public, but I think is very interesting for us as actors.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   I think we found, well, we kind of had it from the beginning, but such an ease together, the six of us. It's just we know our characters so well by now and each other's, and yet there are still so many surprises that come to us daily from the writers, and weekly. I just think it's a very lucky chemistry to start that they put the six of us together. But now I think, like I said about the writing, it's developed and realized to such an extent and beyond what we could imagine, as actors. So, I think it’s just we’re being fed. We're being well used as actors. And like Mayim said, I mean, I think each of us is constantly moment to moment trying to figure out, is that too much? Was that not enough? Was I too energetic? And it's fun. I mean, if we had another couple of hours to this, so I could go on talking about analyzing comedy, like, if I put my coat on, on that scene, on that moment, does that make it better? Or if I stand up on that line, or if I take a pause here, or do it really fast - I just love all that stuff. It's just like going to this wonderful gym as an actor to get to try out all of this stuff. I think you guys agree that they're very accessible, this group, in terms of, if we want to tweak a line a little bit, or if we ask if we could say something different, or try something different, they're so open to it. You don't feel like, “Ooh, I better not mentioned that. I'll just say it the way it is,” because I just feel that that openness from them, like, to our alternate lines, which we call alts, it's a really wonderful work environment.

QUESTION:   …I want to know if you are going to come soon [to] Mexico and give something to Mexican people that really love you? If I don't have time in the future, I am going to tell you that you are going to be in my prayers. I really hope that this new season is going to be successful for all the team.

MAYIM BIALIK:   Thank you.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   Thank you so much.

MAYIM BIALIK:   Let's do a whole tour. I would love to go anywhere. And I think we probably sound adorable in Spanish.

QUESTION:   Yes, I want to tell you that your voice is the same in Spanish; it’s the same. Really. They make an excellent cast.

MAYIM BIALIK:   It’s probably a man playing me, because of my man voice.

QUESTION:   No, of course not. It was excellent, really.

QUESTION:   [Mayim], you've talked about this a little bit, but what can fans expect from Ken Jennings’s cameo, or what do you want to share most?

MAYIM BIALIK:   Well, we definitely take some pretty funny cheap shots at him, and he takes some pretty cheap shots at me. There's definitely a breaking of the fourth walls surrounding the fact that he and I are existing in the same space, and I may or may not develop a crush on him.

QUESTION:   For the three of you, just tease a little bit what's coming up for your characters in season three. What are you most excited about?

KYLA PRATT:   I'm excited about everyone getting to see my and Carter's relationship develop, because we are both strange individuals in different ways. I think it's really funny to see how we intertwine, how we do things. My character is very standoffish. His character is not, but I think we're growing, and I think that there's a lot of comedic moments that are going to have everyone laughing as much as we've been.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   And she, Randi, is definitely the boss in that too.

KYLA PRATT:   [laughs] Definitely.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   No question.

MAYIM BIALIK:   I mean, honestly, really, one of my favorite parts of our show is Julian and Kyla and their chemistry and their plots this year. I think they are very interesting. It's hard to tell the same story of a couple on a sitcom, and we’ve all seen many, many iterations of many different kinds of couples, but there's something about that relationship, I think, that really, really speaks to some very interesting dynamics, and I'm excited for that this season. There's some really interesting stuff with Sheila and Kat. The fact that we all age is something that our writers have decided to really deal with head on. I think, I don't know if I've seen it, the way we are doing it on a sitcom, to show that kind of complexity of what happens when you realize that your parent is not the age that you are still, and there's some really sweet stuff and really complicated stuff. A lot that I resonate with, as a sandwich generation person myself.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   And what's also interesting to me about that is that Kat and Sheila I feel are on, like parallel lines in terms of, I don't think Sheila is so much concerned about her own aging. I think she's very worried and concerned and obsessed about Kat’s biological clock ticking, because it's [her] last chance. So, that's one dynamic that you will see this season. But the aging thing, I don't know; what can you do about it? [laughs]

MAYIM BIALIK:   And I'm sure the guys talked about Phil having some romance, and that's really sweet. We've got another episode on that, that we're filming when we're back from hiatus. The Max character has - also I think Max and Kat have been characters that we're sort of trying to put our finger on, but I think there's a lot with Kat and Max this year that's going to explain a lot, I think, about both of them. I'll leave it at that.

Call Me KatQUESTION:   I know that y'all touched on this a little bit, but for Mayim and Swoosie, one of my favorite moments from the show, and one of the most powerful scenes where I was like, “how do they come back from this?” was when your characters were in therapy, and Kat basically said, “I lost the wrong parent.” I was like, “how can you come back from this?” but your characters have come so far to the point where you're going on dinners every month, and then Sheila's speaking highly of Kat on television and all of these things you wouldn't expect. So, what has it been like for the both of you as actors navigating, getting out of such a low point and the relationship to getting to where you are now?

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   I think that that was a very painful dynamic for Sheila. She's known all of Kat’s life that Daddy is the favorite, and I think we all as human beings feel in some way or some situation left out. We always feel like we're not included in that group or whatever, and it's a very painful feeling. I think that Sheila has endured it all these years, and Kat wasn't a little girly girl that Sheila wanted. She wanted this little pageant girl to be like her with all of the girly, girly stuff, and Kat just wasn't, and I think they've always been at odds in some way or other. So, yeah, but we're finding our way as we grow up.

MAYIM BIALIK:   I was going to say, I know from Swoosie’s beautiful memoir that she wrote about the rich and complicated relationship she had with her beloved mother, and I think that there's a universality also to that kind of conflict, even if it's not mother-daughter, but, for us, it happens to be in this working relationship. Sometimes hard and really painful things come up, and you can't keep sitting in it the same way, and you have to also just do what's next. I think that's sort of how this relationship is going. Also, that is a huge moment that my own mother in my life actually came to express after my father passed. And also, we still need to, you know, go to the grocery store, and we still need to have her see the kids and you arrange, like who's going to take her to yoga today or whatever. So, I think there's also some of that, and I think part of it is, on a sitcom, you're getting these little kind of tidbits every week, but for us, you know, there are other stories that we, as actors, get to hold about what happens in between, if that makes sense.

KYLA PRATT:   I just want to add very quickly, I think it's beautiful that they show this type of relationship on the show, because in real life, a lot of parents and children go through this type of thing. I think once they're allowed to open up the conversation and see these two characters come from a low point, like, parents have to start to understand like, you weren't the perfect parent, and it's okay to hear from your child, and understand where they're coming from. But then as a kid, it's okay to understand from the parents perspective, and I think it just shows a way  not always having to agree, but still working with each other because the love is still there.

MAYIM BIALIK:   Well said.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   Yeah.

QUESTION:   All three of your characters, I was thinking as I was listening to this, and it struck me that we see the vulnerabilities of them all, and yet, they're all very strong characters. They are not afraid to tell you what they want. Yet as a viewer, I find it interesting that sometimes the funniest moments and the most interesting moments, are the ones where all three of you are forced to compromise. Like when with Swoosie, Kat won’t do what you want. Even in the first episode between between Kat and Randi, I can see both sides of that argument. I can see Kat coming home and going, “What have you done to my cafe?” and I can see Randi going, “Well, damnit, you weren't here, and we made all these changes, and it’s doing great.” Have you guys thought about that at all, that even though you are presenting very strong women characters, which is great, sometimes the funniest part is when you're forced off your track?

MAYIM BIALIK:   Well, I think, I mean, I take that as a compliment and a credit really to our writers, because I think we can all agree that we need more multi-dimensional female characters. We need more multi-dimensional characters in general to be represented and people from more different diverse backgrounds, experiences, and socioeconomic situations. But for us, I think what you're describing is we can have more than one strong, interesting, funny, quirky woman on a show, and we are different in our flavors. I feel that, especially with Kyla, I think in our personal interactions as well, like I sometimes say Kyla is like the person I want to be in my head. Like in my head I say the things Kayla says, but I'm not brave enough to say it. I have strength, and Kyla has strength, but it's it's different. I think that's what we're showing on this show with these characters, and I feel the same about Swoosie, again, someone who I have such a different life experience with. She has a strength and resilience that is admirable. We can have more than one woman being an interesting, smart woman on the show. So, I take it as a real compliment to our writers, and so, thank you.

SWOOSIE KURTZ:   It's fun with these three strong women to see them stumble, to see them vulnerable, and to see where they're trying to find their way. They’re lost.

KYLA PRATT:   I love it, because, to me, it shows that we can be any and everything. We don't have to pick one type of feeling, one type of “I have to be this, and I have to be that, and I have to stand in my [lane].” No, we are well-rounded. It's okay to be well-rounded. It's okay to be vulnerable, and I think that's why a lot of those moments are funny, because you have a woman like Randi who's like, “I'm right, like, I don't think so,” and then I'm like, “Oh damn, maybe I'm not.” I just love to show the well-roundedness of women and characters in general is we don't have to be just one thing, because no one is just one thing, and anybody in life who's thinking they have to be just one thing, are the ones struggling right now. It's like “No, you can be all and it's okay,” and now let’s laugh about it.

MAYIM BIALIK:   And again, I do want to also you know call notice to a lot of times you'll have these kinds of sitcom tropes of characters. You'll have like the horny old person, which definitely we have some of that kind of playful sexuality with Phil and also with Sheila, but that's not the only thing they do on our show. I think, especially with actors of color, it's very easy for writers to pigeonhole and say, “this is what you do,” and you do one thing over and over, and it's funny do it again.” And what we're trying to show is there's a full variety for all of our characters. We can be silly, funny. I can fall down and do stunts. But we also get to do things with heart. I'm aware we're not doing Shakespeare here. We're not curing cancer with the sitcom, but what we're doing is we're representing a playful aspect of our industry in a format that has been beloved for decades, where we're going to tell you a story in twenty-one minutes, and we're going to try and do a beginning and a middle and an end and entertain you while we also try and be human.

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