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'Trophy Wife' Title Is Meant to Be 'Ironic,' Says Producer

The ABC comedy is loosely based on co-creator Sarah Haskins' real-life marriage.

Trophy Wife TCA - H 2013
Getty Images
From left: Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Malin Akerman, Michaela Watkins and Lee Eisenberg

The Trophy Wife producers want critics to know that the title isn't meant to be taken literally.

From co-creators Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins, Trophy Wife centers on reformed party girl Kate (Malin Akerman) who ends up marrying a man much older than her, Pete (Bradley Whitford), and finds herself dealing with his two ex-wives and their children. The concept is loosely based on Haskins' life. (She is married to the son of the late Blake Edwards.)

"The title we always meant to be ironic," executive producer Lee Eisenberg told reporters gathered Sunday at the Television Critics Association press tour. "When you look at the promos, I think that counterbalances it." Instead, Eisenberg said that the show will focus on how Akerman's Kate is "not like" a trophy wife.

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Akerman joked: "I saw the title and I said, 'Hell no, I'm not playing a trophy wife!' "

"As the season progresses, Kate is going to face how other people perceive her," Haskins said, who added that "there's no villain in the situation of a blended family."

Trophy Wife will serve as the lead-out for 1980s comedy The Goldbergs on Tuesday nights, with some wondering if the half-hour would be better served following Modern Family on Wednesdays. ABC entertainment chief Paul Lee said that he felt it was suited more for the four-quadrant night that is their Tuesday lineup. "We certainly thought that Trophy Wife would be a fantastic pairing for that," he said.

If anything, the session illuminated just how funny and deadpan Haskins is, with the co-creator joking that her husband — who is two decades older — and her mother often discuss The Mary Tyler Moore Show and that she only heard about the Kennedy presidency.

But Haskins was adamant that Trophy Wife was a fictional account of her life, reaffirming to critics that the characters are just that.

The Office veteran Phyllis Smith, who appears in the pilot, will have a recurring role on Trophy Wife and Natalie Morales, who plays Kate's best friend, Meg, will be a pivotal part of the show. She will be the "devil on Kate's shoulder," promised producers, adding that she will begin to date Pete's friends and is an extra set of hands around the house.

Additionally, "There are a lot of different dynamics that we want to explore," Eisenberg said, pointing to further exploring Kate's relationship with Pete's ex-wife Jackie (Michaela Watkins) as well as Kate and Pete's other ex-wife, Diane (Marcia Gay Harden).

E-mail: Philiana.Ng@THR.com
Twitter: @insidethetube