NBC’s rom-coms ruled the carpet at the network’s Tuesday premiere party, sponsored by Vanity Fair, at Hollywood’s Hyde as the casts of “Marry Me” and “A to Z” buzzed with excitement for the premieres of their shows.
“It’s been so great,” exclaimed “Marry Me’s” Casey Wilson of working on the laffer. The Tuesday night comedy stars Wilson and Ken Marino as they navigate the process of getting engaged and making it to the altar. But the show is not just about getting married, said Wilson.
“I think we’re also just taking relationship stories and blowing them out and making them really funny,” she told Variety, teasing that upcoming stories include a “Bride Wars”-esque encounter with Dan Bucatinsky, who plays one of Wilson’s fathers, and the couple attempting an open-eyed cuddle – an exercise that Wilson learned in acting school.
“I did it with my husband and he lasted five seconds, so he has Ken try to do it with my character,” she laughed. Wilson is married to David Caspe, creator of “Marry Me,” and shared that they tried to draw on their own relationship when they began developing the comedy.
“A to Z” is also loosely based on how creator Ben Queen met his wife. Queen drew on their story and a desire to see more relationship comedies as inspiration for Andrew (Ben Feldman) and Zelda (Cristin Milioti).
Queen spent six years working at Pixar prior to developing the series, and considers the experience “like graduate screenwriting school. The big take away was take the time, do the hard work in the first act to make your audience care about the story and the characters. I’m trying to do that every week on the show and have an emotional tie-in.”
The show’s ambition to be heartfelt in addition to being funny was a big draw for Feldman, who never thought he would want to be in a comedy. “Comedies to me are more about rhythm and the joke than it is about the story and the character,” he said, “but this show didn’t care if there were a few moments that went by without a joke. It felt like the kind of movies we’re nostalgic for that we don’t see anymore.”
“And we’ve started bleeding into our characters,” he shared after pausing to joke around with his cast mates. “I’ll bitch about something and then all of a sudden my character’s saying it in the next episode.”
“We really are trying to strike this slightly more realistic tone,” added Queen, “and we’re trying to tell a realistic relationship story — and you’re going to see everything from beginning to end, too.”
As Katey Segal narrates, Andrew and Zelda date for eight months, three weeks, five days and one hour, with the events of the end of that timeline yet to be seen. But that time is just what Queen has planned for the first season, he said, hoping the show performs well enough to earn a second run.
“We’re really trying to take the time to take you through this particular couple’s relationship so you don’t miss anything,” he said. “And at the end of that, they don’t date anymore. And whether they break up or get married or whatever is left up to the audience to wonder but we have ideas about where it’s going to go.”