We still can’t accept that this week’s Playing House was the Season 2 finale already — eight episodes is not nearly enough — but at least USA’s utterly charming summer sitcom went out on a high note with a two-parter that included a visit from the legendary Kenny Loggins, the return of the almighty Bosephus… and a surprising dash of romance. (Team Mark and Emma, obviously. Sorry, Bird Bones.)
Yahoo TV chatted with Playing House stars/creators Jessica St. Clair (Emma) and Lennon Parham (Maggie) about the huge Mark-Emma cliffhanger they left us dangling on, how they managed to get Kenny Loggins on their show (they stalked him, basically), how St. Clair really feels about Bosephus (she’s not a fan), and what we might see if there’s a Season 3. (Hi, Kathie Lee and Hoda!)
How dare you end the season on a cliffhanger like that? Is this your way of emotionally blackmailing us into demanding a Season 3?
Lennon: Yeah, pretty much. [Laughs.] In all of those big, serialized dramas, the really big stuff — the crazy stuff that makes you gasp — happens in the next-to-last episode. And then the last episode, they set up what the next season might kind of be like, and leave a bunch of unfinished questions so that you can’t breathe and need more immediately.
Jessica: We always wanted to torture our fans as much as possible. And especially for ladies, the more we can draw something out, Jane Austen-style, the better [it’ll be] when the payoff happens.
Lennon: If it ever does!
Jessica: I would like to see there be a wedding in Season 3… but I’m not saying between whom.
Lennon: We haven’t spoken about that at all, so she’s just making promises right off the bat. She’s like, “Season 3, they’ll all work at a circus!”
So if you guys produced two seasons of a television series for the sole purpose of meeting Kenny Loggins, it was worth it, right?
Lennon: Yep! [Laughs.] Exactly!
Jessica: Lennon had been a Kenny fan… well, we’re all Kenny fans. If you’re an American citizen, you’re a fan of Mr. Kenny Loggins. But Lennon has been a true superfan for her whole life.
Lennon: Yeah, I went to see him in concert twice, and the second time, it was in the round, and he came up into the audience during “Celebrate Me Home,” which I guess he does, and stands up on the chairs in front of people and just riffs while the whole audience is singing. And you would think it was like the Beatles: I was losing. My. Mind. Screaming. We have it on video, and we attached that video when we wrote him a letter saying, “Please come do our show.”
Jessica: You just hear Lennon’s voice screaming, “Oh my God! Oh my f–king God!” Over and over again. “It’s Kenny Loggins! It’s Kenny Loggins!” And that’s what we attached to our email. Which I think began with the words, “My Dearest Kenny.” Like, this letter should’ve gotten him to file a restraining order.
Lennon: Like, this is written by serial killers. But his wife watched the show and became obsessed with it, and was like, “You’ve got to do this. These girls honestly love you. They want you to do the finale.” So I think even when he stepped on set, he was a little bit like, “Am I here to get murdered?”
Lennon: But immediately, we embraced him — which, of course, was too much, too soon. But by the end, he was super comfortable. We were all best friends.
Jessica: And then the scene where we met him for the first time is the scene where we freak out in his dressing room. And the whole joke is that Kenny only eats pun-based snacks before his show. And so to see Kenny Loggins serving himself “Foot Juice,” and a serving of “I’m All Rice,” was one of the best moments of my life. I was like, “This is straight-up amazing.” And also, we insisted that his dressing room look like a scene from Dances With Wolves. It was covered in sheepskin. And he was like, “Why do you guys think this of me?” [Laughs.] It seemed right.
But “Celebrate Me Home” is on the piano, and we needed him to play it on the guitar, and he didn’t know it on the guitar — and he learned it for us! That’s when I was like, “Oh, this guy is one hundred percent the real deal.” He is a true musician. He’s not vain at all about his voice. We made him sing the song a cappella at 2 a.m. in a dusty parking lot, and he was totally game. He was such a sweet man.
Lennon: He’s just the greatest.
And we knew we couldn’t get out of the season without a Bosephus sighting. How did Toyota feel about Bosephus caressing the curves of that Camry? That was some prime product placement.
Jessica: Well, he didn’t caress them; he humped them.
Lennon: For some reason, I was really down with saying all that spiel about the Camry if I said it in Bosephus-speak. I never said “Toyota”; I would always say [in Bospehus voice] “Toy-yo-tah.”
Jessica: It was like my favorite thing in life.
Lennon: But they were totally down with it. As long as it’s funny, they’re down with it. You remember last season, we had, like, sex in the Highlander, and had Keegan[-Michael Key] basically humping the car seat as he put it in. That was all a placement. And Toyota was loving it.
Great, then I’ll look forward to the string of Toyota commercials starring Bosephus.
Jessica: Oh God, don’t say it, because that’s all she wants.
Lennon: Can you imagine? If this results in me getting a Bosephus campaign for Toyota, I’m gonna take you to dinner at the Ritz!
Jessica: But here’s the story: First of all, all Lennon wants is a free car out of this show.
Lennon: A truck! Gimme a truck, yeah!
Jessica: But when Lennon becomes Bosephus, she is truly rude to me. I don’t know if it’s the fact that she can’t smile when that mustache is on, or if she just becomes the biggest jerk in the world. But she is dismissive of me. She treats me like a piece of meat. And I hate it. Literally, the only fights we get in on set are when she’s dressed as Bosephus.
Lennon: This is the only time that I am truly the alpha in our relationship.
Jessica: And I hate it.
Lennon: And I’ll tell you this, I’ll go on record: If it wasn’t so funny, if it hadn’t become a fan obsession, he wouldn’t be back. Because Jessica does not care for him.
Jessica: I’m trying to kill him. And Zach [Woods] is upset by him, too. Zach is very disturbed by him. And so the two of us are like, “Oh God, he’s back.” And then the way she entertains the crew as Bosephus is upsetting.
Yeah, everybody loves Bosephus. Even the roadies at the Kenny Loggins concert.
Lennon: Everybody loves Bosephus.
Jessica: Except for me. I hate him.
Let’s go back to that policeman’s ball in “Officer of the Year.” Like you said, there was a definite Jane Austen vibe there, with Mark and Emma and their long, lingering looks across the dance floor. That was something you’d been building towards all season, right?
Lennon: Well, it’s a tricky situation, because Mark is married, and he’s married to someone that everyone loves, as well. So we really wanted to kind of honor that relationship, and honor both of our characters, by having that happen in kind of a real and grounded way. We really labored over whether it should even happen, but my mother is a therapist, and she was like, “Mark needs to grow and change.” [Laughs.] And so we were like, “OK, OK.” So we went on that journey. But then that opened him up for Emma, and Emma’s in this relationship, and so it’s really, really tricky. We had to kind of tread lightly.
Jessica: But also, we have a straight-up obsession with the olden days. Like, straight-up. I’m obsessed, and Lennon is tangentially, with Anne of Green Gables, the miniseries that was shot in Canada.
Lennon: Jessica takes it to a different level. Like, I read all the books and was totally obsessed and played Rachel Lynde in a high school play. But I did not go to Prince Edward Island on my family vacation. That’s the difference.
Jessica: I dragged my entire family. But there’s a great scene where there’s a ball and she gets proposed to, and it’s so awesome. So doing that scene for me… first of all, nobody would ever cast me in that part if we hadn’t written it ourselves. [Laughs.] Not that loudmouth. Nobody wants her in a nice dress. But that scene was like an amalgamation of all of our favorite scenes from a Jane Austen movie or Anne of Green Gables, where these two that you know should be together find themselves out on a terrace. If I had my way, we would’ve been in a Mediterranean villa, and I would’ve been looking over the blue waters of the Mediterranean. But you know, we had budget constraints.
Plus, the dance scene meant we got to see lots of killer dance moves and body rolls. Who was the best dancer that night?
Jessica: Lennon. It’s between you and Keegan. You and Keegan give a pretty close race. And Brad [Morris, who plays Maggie’s ex Bruce] is really good, too.
Lennon: Yeah, I’m gonna say Brad. Just the way that Brad let go. His wife sent us a video of him practicing the Roger Rabbit, but he was actually practicing the Cabbage Patch.
Jessica: He didn’t know.
Lennon: He didn’t know. Anyway, it was the most precious thing in the whole world. And on the night when we shot, he just really let it go, inhibition-wise, as if he were wasted. But he wasn’t. So for that, I will choose Brad.
Jessica: And Keegan… we always do something to Keegan where we’re like, “We’re gonna need you to do a full split, and then jump up.” And he’ll have to practice it for six months. He gets so obsessive about it.
Lennon: He did. He always nails it. He did one thing that we didn’t keep in the cut where he was on his butt with his legs out in front of him, and in rhythm with the song, he bounced his butt and his whole body forward. That was pretty amazing. That’ll be on the blooper reel.
So is it too early to talk about Season 3? Have you gotten any indication from USA, one way or the other?
Jessica: No, it takes a little longer, because our show is so much about how people watch it on-demand. It just takes a little longer for them to compile all of that data. So it’ll just be a little while before we know, and not because they’re hemming or hawing; it’s really that they won’t have a full picture of how the show did until they can see who binge-watched it. They really didn’t care as much who watched it live. We’re really an experiment. It’s the first time that [NBC] Universal has ever done this, where it’s really more important that people watch it on-demand than live.
Lennon: Yeah, the way the show came back for a second season was in a partnership with Comcast and all these advertisers. So everyone on all of those fronts, I think, is gonna have to weigh in and give their two cents of what their expectations were. So we’ll wait. But we have so many stories to tell; we’re not worried about that. We love these characters, and it’s just so much fun to get to do it again and again. Especially now that we know them so much better, and know what people are responding to as well.
Jessica: We also promised Kathie Lee and Hoda that we would do an episode in which we fly to New York with Bird Bones because her kitchen has been entered in a “Kitchen of the Year” contest. And we get involved in a very serious drinking competition with them that leads to all of us breaking into 30 Rock. And we have promised them on the air that we will shoot that. And Kathie Lee said she’d pay for it.
And hey, can’t Shonda Rhimes just renew you guys by herself? I saw she loves the show.
Lennon: Can you believe that? We saw that! We just saw that little shout-out she gave us.
Jessica: She is our queen.
Lennon: I saw that she had DVR-ed it, and we almost lost our minds, and drove off the road, et cetera, et cetera. And then to actually take time to mention it and say words like “best”… it’s just crazy. I mean, talk about a sister doing it for herself.
Jessica: You know what’s nice about Shonda, too, is: We’ve been seeing her at these WGA awards or whatever, and Lennon and I are sitting as far back as you could possibly be in the bleachers, and Shonda is winning every single award, as she deserves to. And what’s nice is, you can tell that everybody in Shonda World… that’s what they call it, right, Len?
Jessica: ShondaLand! Everybody in ShondaLand — her actors, her writers — everybody is so inspired by her vision. And it’s so clear that she actually lets people be artists. She’s not a control freak in that way. And it’s so inspiring for us. We’re dying to pick her brain, but she’s a busy woman in Hollywood. So we’ll probably have to stalk her, Kenny Loggins-style.