Ms. Pat is back for a third season of shenanigans as the Emmy-nominated comedy series “The Ms. Pat Show” continues. In celebration of Feb. 23 season premiere, series star Patricia “Ms. Pat” Williams and showrunner Jordan E. Cooper sat down for a Variety TV Screening Series conversation, presented by BET+, to discuss classic sitcoms, getting “The Jeffersons” star Marla Gibbs to curse and tackling society’s ongoing obsession with Botox.
“The Ms. Pat Show” is based on Williams’ personal life, drawing from the comedienne’s past as a teenage mom and ex-felon. Williams concurrently serves as a writer and producer on the series, which she developed alongside Cooper. The Season 3 premiere also marks Cooper’s directing debut and he helmed three of the nine new episodes.
“We started this journey together,” Williams said, fondly reflecting on her collaboration with Cooper. “So to see him direct, it just brought tears to my eyes. Because that’s something he really wanted to do; that’s the only thing he hadn’t done.”
Williams and Cooper were joined for the premiere celebration by the trio of young actors who make up the Carson family – Vince Swann (who plays eldest son Brandon), Briyana Guadalupe (the middle daughter, Janelle) and Theodore Barnes (Junebug, the baby of the family) — as well as guest star Lisa Vidal and the show’s Emmy-nominated director Mary Lou Belli.
The new season features a star-studded list of guest performers, including Marla Gibbs. The 91-year-old comic actor received five Emmy nominations for her role as Florence Johnston on “The Jeffersons.” Williams attested to how Cooper eagerly tried to convince Gibbs to say “bitch” on camera: “When we got to it, [Gibbs] was like, ‘Look, I’ll say anything, but I’m not calling Black women “bitches.”‘”
“It was like a fantasy, because I’m just a TV nerd; I love old sitcoms,” Cooper said of working with Gibbs. “You know how many times [during] ‘The Jeffersons’ that Florence wanted to say ‘fuck off’ to George, and she never could. And we finally gave her a chance to say, ‘Do I look like I give a fuck?'”
Cooper went on to categorize the show’s new season as putting “real comedy back in sitcoms.” Season 3 is filled with laugh-out-loud gags, such as one episode where Williams keeps her face frozen in a fixed position for a Botox parody.
“We’re in an era where nobody’s happy with their bodies anymore,” Williams said, explaining the inspiration behind the sketch. “We’re at the point where Black women are buying lips. What the hell? We were given lips straight out the womb.”
Cooper elaborated on the broader inspiration for this season, which he said is “like ‘I Love Lucy’ in a lot of ways,” with Williams as Lucy and Tami Roman (who plays her sister Denise) as Ethel. For one, both shows filmed in front of a live studio audience — a format Cooper said he instantly knew would be the best platform for Williams’ brand of comedy.
“I love a live studio audience,” Cooper said. “With television, you rarely get a chance to watch it with other people; you’re usually butt-naked on your couch. So, it’s good to experience it in a room full of folks.”
“The Ms. Pat Show” is now streaming on BET+. Watch the full panel above.