Shrink’s malady affects everyone

Emmy's new breed: Huff

HUFF
Favorite episodes: “I love the pilot, the Christmas episode and our season finale cliffhanger,” says Lowry.
Most complex character: “I’m not copping out, but I’d have to rank Huff, Izzy and Russell equally, all for different reasons. Huff is trying to wake up and find out what’s missing. Izzy is fighting the hurt and being thoughtless, but she also loves her family. Russell’s never predictable or cliche.”
What to expect next season: “Huff will definitely become more proactive. He’s in a mood to say ‘screw everyone’ after some of the things that happened to him in season one. That’s his point of view to start the season anyway. I’ll also tell you that the mysterious Hungarian gentleman will be back, but he will transition from Huff to (his brother) Teddy (Andy Comeau). That’s as much as I’ll give you.”

The last thing on Bob Lowry’s mind when he created “Huff” was the notion that he might actually sell the show to a network, let alone that viewers and critics might like it enough for it to earn Emmy consideration.

After all, Lowry, the show’s creator and executive producer, says he created “Huff” as a spec script/writing sample to show his chops, since “my agent asked me to either write another ‘West Wing’ or something brand-new, and I didn’t want to channel Aaron Sorkin.”

Instead, he penned something that Showtime executives liked enough to greenlight not one but two 13-episode seasons upfront. And what exactly did he create?

“It’s an existential comedy-drama about life in general, using the world of a psychiatrist as a springboard to explore a character piece,” Lowry says. “I wanted to show how a psychiatrist would not be immune from the kinds of psychological traumas that his patients are experiencing, any more than a medical doctor would be immune from getting cancer.”

While the ratings for the show have been far from gangbusters, the series has a passionate fan base.

The cast is led by Hank Azaria as Dr. Craig Huffstodt, a troubled psychiatrist who sometimes finds his fantasies more comforting than real life; Blythe Danner as his self-absorbed mother, Izzy Huffstodt; Oliver Platt as his hedonistic lawyer/best friend, Russell Tupper; and Paget Brewster as his hot/cold wife, Beth Huffstodt.

“Blythe understands her character is coming from a place of devastating hurt, and she has decided to be a survivor who would rather be brash, sometimes thoughtless, than let the hurt get the best of her,” Lowry says. “She’s third-generation Pasadena money whose husband left when she was 40, and who feels responsible for her brain-damaged son.”

The reality-bending situations Lowry and his colleagues concoct somehow always end up following a certain logic within the context of Huff’s universe — real and imagined. For instance, at the end of season one, Huff finds out Russell has been having sex with his mother. Naturally, a brawl ensues.

“Huff screams at Russell, ‘You (screwed) my mother,’ ” Lowry chuckles. “When Huff says this, Izzy reprimands him for using that language. Even then, she’s still his mom. That’s our show.”

Favorite episodes: “I love the pilot, the Christmas episode and our season finale cliffhanger,” says Lowry.

Most complex character: “I’m not copping out, but I’d have to rank Huff, Izzy and Russell equally, all for different reasons. Huff is trying to wake up and find out what’s missing. Izzy is fighting the hurt and being thoughtless, but she also loves her family. Russell’s never predictable or cliche.”

What to expect next season: “Huff will definitely become more proactive. He’s in a mood to say ‘screw everyone’ after some of the things that happened to him in season one. That’s his point of view to start the season anyway. I’ll also tell you that the mysterious Hungarian gentleman will be back, but he will transition from Huff to (his brother) Teddy (Andy Comeau). That’s as much as I’ll give you.”

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