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‘Casual’s’ Michaela Watkins on Roles for Women in Their ’40s, SoulCycle

Hulu’s “Casual” is about relationships, but not necessarily the romcom kind.

In the new comedy, which is exec produced by director Jason Reitman, Michaela Watkins and Tommy Dewey play Valerie and Alex, a sister and brother who find more emotional support from each other than they do from any paramour. And the fact that they’re living together along with Valerie’s teenage daughter (Tara Lynne Barr)? Well, that’s not so weird

As the series premieres on Wednesday, Watkins talked to Variety about the changing definition of relationship comedies and the increase in quality TV roles for women in their ’40s.

You’ve done a lot of shows about relationships and families. What drew you particularly to this one?

What drew me to it, if I’m being totally honest, was Jason Reitman. I’m just a fan of his work and anything he was attached to direct I was curious about. And then I read the script and I was really taken by this odd, unique relationship between a brother and a sister the likes of which I’ve never experienced certainly [because I have two amazing sisters] and I’ve never seen on television.

The primary relationship is between a brother and a sister and there’s no boundaries between the two of them. Realizing how they got to be who they are seems kind of cute and sweet at first blush, but then you see they didn’t have great role models as kids. It’s really a show about family and they had to have this relationship because they weren’t getting it from their caregivers.

The dialogue is so natural and Jason’s style is so cinematic. That’s how I like my shows.

If this were another TV show, yours and Tommy Dewey’s characters would be the will they or won’t they couple. That’s obviously not a factor in this show.

No, but keep watching (laughs).

I think there’s a will they/won’t they factor of will they choose their families over this relationship that could be toxic.

I like living in this woman’s skin and I like taking care of these people. I like the relationship with the daughter a lot. Without having kids, I’m fascinated by my friends who are straddling this line of being best friends with their kids and having to parent their kids.

I think Zander [Lehmann, who created the series] is such a good writer and clearly had an idea of the show he wanted to make.

Casual” is airing at a time when we have “Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce” and after the short-lived “Trophy Wife,” which you appeared in. What do you think about the way divorce is being portrayed on TV and with middle-aged female characters?

It’s so great. Lisa [Edelstein, who stars in “Girlfriends”] will tell you that it’s only in 2015 where a show has a woman in her 40s having sex and it gets a second season. The voices and the narrative is beginning to change. They’re trying to write for people who TV had previously shied away from and I attribute that to the cable and digital outlets that aren’t trying to put women in a certain kind of box.

It’s also a very Los Angeles show. In one episode, your character goes to spin class and then goes out to drinks with a bunch of 20-somethings.

The whole SoulCycle episode: I’ve been asked many times by friends who love it to come and I decided that I was going to be as clueless about it as my character and not go. And I have to say, after shooting that scene, I don’t think I ever will.

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