July 14, 2014 3:13pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Marti Noxon on 'Girlfriends' Guide': Move to Bravo 'Changed its DNA'
Bravo becomes the latest cable network to enter the scripted space with Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce, Marti Noxon's dramedy that was first developed for Showtime before moving to the NBCUniversal-owned cable network.
Inspired by the Girlfriends' Guide books by Vicki Iovine, the series follows Abby (Lisa Edelstein), a self-help book author and guru of all things family who shocks the world when she reveals that her seemingly perfect life is a lie. Paul Adelstein, Janeane Garofalo, Beau Garrett and Necar Zadegan also stars, with Orange Is the New Black's Laverne Cox guest starring. Adelstein also serves as a writing consultant on the series.
Noxonused the show's platform at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour to tout the changes and creative freedom that come with being Bravo's first original scripted show. The writer, who got her start on Joss Whedon's beloved Buffy the Vampire Slayer before moving on to series including Glee and Mad Men, said the change from a half-hour comedy at Showtime to an hourlong dramedy at Bravo helped make the series "richer."
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"I worked on Mad Men — and I'm not comparing us to Mad Men; Matt Weiner, if you're here don't be mad at me! — and I was part of experience of being part of train that changed the whole network," Noxon told reporters Monday. "One of the things that was great is since we're going longer, can we go deeper. One of the most frequent notes we got was: Can these characters have another facet? It was great to be challenged that way."
Expanding the series also allowed Noxon to add Necar Zadegan's character, Abby's fierce divorce attorney. "[The move] changed the DNA of the stories," Noxon said. "I didn't know that [Adelstein's] Jake [Abby's soon-to-be ex-husband] would be so central or that we wanted to know so much about their kids."
Noxon, who told reporters that the panel coincided with her last alimony payment after her marriage ended five years ago, stressed that the show isn't autobiographical but instead about divorces in general. "I wanted to write about sexual politics for a long time," she said, noting the series will explore the balance of power when women earn more than men or have greater success in their careers as well as the impact of divorce on men.
Noxon, who also received a series pickup for her Lifetime entry Un-Real, is happy to be to find herself back on cable.
"Mad Men changed my life. I'd been working only in network and it wasn't a good fit for me," she admitted. "After the experience of working on Buffy, I didn't realize that you weren't allowed to write what you wanted to write all the time. A lot of networks have notes. I like to go blue as you can see but I really like things to develop at their own rate. I went to mad men and asked what the theme was. I went to Matt and he said, 'Screw theme! Where did you learn that!?' There was more drama in the writers' room than there was on set all the time. The season I was there was all female writers. [It was] laugh, tears, cry. And that was just Matt!"
As for what to expect from Girlfriends' Guide, Carrie Fisher has a recurring guest role as Abby's long-time book editor and guide, and was cast before she booked her Star Wars return. Noxon joked that Fisher's hiatus from the series — she'll be back in subsequent episodes — will be written into the show. "We didn't know she was about to go do Star Wars and because of that, it worked for story that she goes away for a while. When she goes back, we'll say she was in rehab!"
Girlfriends' Guide debuts Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 10 p.m.