'I Hate My Teenage Daughter' Star Katie Finneran on Its Title: 'Everybody's Said It'
The Tony winner tells THR how modern mother-daughter relationships are reflected on the new Fox comedy series.
The premise behind Fox’s new sitcom, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, may be tough for some parents to face. It basically explores a generation of kids that have rarely been let down and what happens when two mothers realize they’ve created monsters.
The series starring Katie Finneran and Jaime Pressly shines a spotlight on a generation of children who get trophies even if they don’t win, cell phones in kindergarten, and have access to sophisticated topics like sexuality – but with none of the wisdom that should accompany such adult topics.
“It’s terrible. Information is so quickly come by,” Finneran, 39, who plays insecure, divorcing mom, Nikki Miller, on the new sitcom, tells The Hollywood Reporter.
“You can go to the Internet and know more than your mom in two seconds,” she continues. “It’s crazy how fast teenagers have knowledge and information these days. So, I think it’s harder to say, ‘Your father and I know more than you.’ ”
The Tony-award winning Finneran, who returns to the network after starring in the short-lived cult favorite, Wonderfalls, tells THR more about the real life experiences that inform the sitcom and what she’d like the audience to take away from the show.
The Hollywood Reporter: The show doesn’t mean for the title to be taken literally, right?
Katie Finneran: It’s ironic, it’s sardonic, completely tongue in cheek. Of course, we’re completely madly in love with our daughters. But, wanting that love reciprocated always leads to frustration and muttering under your breath, ‘I hate my child.’ And everybody’s said it. I don’t care who you are. Every parent has said it or felt it in their bones at one time or another, ‘Oh my gosh, I can not stand my offspring.’ And maybe even, ‘I hate my offspring.’
We had an episode where I tell my daughter off in a very profound way and every mother on the set was like, ‘Ah, that was so satisfying. So satisfying, I wish I could do that.’ Or, ‘I’ve done that. I’ve absolutely done that.’ It goes both ways. I mean the daughters are really mean to us sometimes and sometimes we give it back to them. But, for the most part, the show is about being deeply and madly in love with your child.
THR: What do you like most about your character?
Finneran: This is a woman who was a teenage social pariah who was over 300 pounds. She had rosacea. She had bad hair and bad skin. She was sort of overeager and has reinvented herself as a mother. And now, she wants her daughter to have everything she never had. So, she is completely overindulging her daughter to be everything that she wasn’t in high school. The reason I love the character is that she’s just quirky and sloppy and she just wants to have a great time. And she just wants her daughter to want to be with her. She’s not the best mother in the whole world, but she’s always trying. Funny and flawed and totally imperfect, I just love that, especially in comedy. I love characters that blur around the edges.
THR: What do the show’s creators and writers bring to the show?
Finneran: Ellen Kreamer and Sherry Bilsing have been partners for a very long time and come from such a strong pedigree. They worked on Friends forever, they wrote some excellent episodes. They also worked on The New Adventures of Old Christine where they wrote some phenomenal episodes and really worked for that show for a long time. And they were both actors starting out, so they know what that’s like.
They’re just women who bring their personal experiences every day. I mean every day. They just wrote an episode where Annie, played by the amazing Jaime Pressly, where her hair catches on fire on a date. And it actually happened to Sherry. Everything that’s in the show is something that probably happened to them at some point or another. A lot of embarrassing funny things happen and it’s all from their personal lives.
THR: What do you hope viewers will take away from the show?
Finneran: I hope it’s a great mirror. I hope it’s a great reflection of maybe someone’s behavior. And they can see themselves and say, ‘Huh, that’s not so attractive is it?’ Because when you’re in it and you’re fighting with your kids and you’re trying to grow up, and when you’re trying to be a great woman, it can be very complicated and confusing. And I’m hoping that our show is a little bit of a comedic mirror where people will get to see their own behavior and adjust accordingly. We’re not trying to be a ‘How To Raise Your Children’ manual. We’re just trying to make you laugh for a half hour, but it would be nice for that relationship to be reflected on television somewhere.
THR: Wonderfalls wasn’t able to finish its season on Fox, but it has attracted quite a following. Do you have fond memories of the series?
Finneran: Yes, I loved that show. I do a lot of theatre, so I get a lot of people who are fans of the show and say how much they loved the show. It really has a lovely following. It was just a beautiful show to work on. And I loved the character so much. I loved playing that character so much. It was a proud gay woman, but, yet, there was some ambiguity there. She wanted to be proud and wanted to be out and, yet, there was a little bit of shame in trying to find her way in the world. That’s such a real thing that so many of my friends go through who are gay. It’s not always loud and proud and gay like they represent on television. It was a not so black and white view of a gay character.
THR: You’ve really made your mark in the theater world, which can have a very intense schedule, as well as on other types of TV shows. What’s it like to work on a television sitcom in comparison?
Finneran: I can’t even tell you how great this job is. It is the best job. In the land of lands it is the greatest job ever. Sitcom television is the way to go. I feel like I can be a mother, and a wife, and a friend, a goddess pretty much. You can print that. I can be a goddess when I’m working – not in a Charlie Sheen way of being a goddess. But, I can be a goddess, because I have time for everybody. I have time to have a life. When you’re doing a one-hour show or even a half hour single camera, the hours are 17-hour days. You basically lead your life on whatever set you’re on and whatever trailer you’re in. People can come visit you, but you really can’t have a steady sort of life. And as great as it is to work on any job, the sitcom is really the Shangri-La of acting jobs. It is just heaven.
I Hate My Teenage Daughter premieres Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. on Fox after The X Factor.
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro