Andrea Savage was tired of the roles she was being offered in Hollywood — there was the harried mom, the awful mom, the mom who hates her kids — and none of those roles felt real or complex.
“I was just like: This isn’t my reality,” Savage says. “Why does a funny female have to be relegated to this very two-dimensional role after she pops a kid out?”
So Savage, a comedian and writer, created her own show called I’m Sorry — now entering its second season on truTV — and wrote for herself the role she couldn’t find anywhere else. She plays an edgy (if frequently cringe-inducing) comedy writer who’s a loving mom and wife. When it comes to where she ends and the character begins, “The lines get very blurred,” Savage explains. “It’s definitely an exaggerated version of me.”
The goal was to show the many different roles parents inhabit day to day, and highlight some of the funny ways those can overlap, especially raising kids in Hollywood. One morning you can be shooting a scene in a strip club, Savage says, and later that afternoon you’ll find yourself talking to a school administrator about homework. “You become slightly different people when you’re around different people,” she says.
The story lines touch on race, sex, death and divorce, but Savage says those topics have come up for the writers organically. “We definitely don’t go like: Let’s tackle an issue,” she says. “It really comes from: What real stories do I have? … When you use something from real life it really grounds it.”
These are stories that parents don’t necessarily share with one another — for example, when a child inadvertently makes an inappropriate or offensive racial remark.
“It’s innocent, but it also does kick you into gear,” Savage says. “It does hit you in a white liberal guilt place and go: Oh my God, what have we not done? What are we not talking about? But also kids notice things, and skin color is different. And so it’s good to have the conversations start coming early.”
When she compared notes with her friends, she found that parents were full of uncomfortable stories and found herself thinking: “Why is no one talking about this?!”
Talking openly about less-than-picture-perfect family moments has made Savage a magnet for embarrassing personal stories — which she finds “delightful.” (For example, people feel the need to let her know that they, too, don’t wear pants at home.)
“I’m sort of their like dirty secret confessional …” she says. And “if that’s my legacy, I will have died a happy lady.”
Sarah Handel and Viet Le produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Beth Novey adapted it for the Web.