Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Anna Paquin, who stars in a new U.K.-based limited series “Flack” on the cable channel Pop.
Paquin plays Robin, an American living in London working as a PR rep who’s known as the “go-to gal for mega crises management.” Her character’s quirk is that, despite being an expert at cleaning up other people’s messes, “her own personal life and private life is an unmitigated disaster.”
The show’s hallmark is its “dark and twisted” sense of humor, featuring characters with a troubled family life that leads them to struggle with their own neuroses and addictive vices. In a Thursday at 10 p.m. time slot, it’s not exactly a family show, Paquin says — but it’s sharp British wit and tasty dialogue will keep audiences hooked.
“There’s something delicious about getting to dip into the motherland of humor,” Paquin says of getting to work with a script written by a non-American writer. “There’s certain kinds of jokes and humor and language that you just can’t have on an American show, because that’s not how Americans speak.”
Paquin herself was born a Canadian but moved to England when she was 4. On top of starring in the show, she also serves as executive producer alongside her husband Stephen Moyer. The pair also own and operate a production company together called CASM.
One of Paquin’s favorite parts about playing Robin is that she’s “A kind of character that we don’t normally see as getting to be female as far as the flawed protagonist,” she says, compared to typically male leads in shows like Breaking Bad and Dexter. “I’m not sure that it was the fault of any of the shows that happened to have really amazing male protagonists, as much as there is more of an appetite to see humanity for all of its ugliness and reality in general, not only telling stories about white men.”
From the business perspective of an executive producer, “People like business models that are proven, and I guess its always scary to be the first to do something, and that’s changing” she says of the infrequency of seeing women playing these flawed lead roles. The show’s success hinged on its birth in the UK with a smaller network like Pop, who were “willing to take that risk…to make the more interesting and less conventional and darker subject matter and give you the creative freedom to tell that story exactly the way you want to tell it.”
As far as darker subject matter goes, her character’s tragic backstory and close sibling bond with her sister gave her a lot to work with. “It explains a lot of the choices she makes when you understand where someone comes from,” Paquin says. As for the future of “Flack,” Paquin says its a “limited series and it plays really beautifully as such, but you never know.”
Later in the podcast, Variety‘s TV critics Daniel D’Addario and Caroline Framke discuss TBS’ “Miracle Workers” and Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy.” Then, senior television reporter Elaine Low provides the play by play on takeaways from this week’s Television Critics Association gathering in Pasadena, Calif.