'Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce's' Lisa Edelstein on Losing Control in Bravo's First Scripted Series

Girlfriends Guide to Divorce Still - H 2014
Carole Segal/Bravo

Girlfriends Guide to Divorce Still - H 2014

Lisa Edelstein is guiding Bravo into television's scripted arena.

The House alum stars in the cabler's Marti Noxon dramedy Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce as Abby McCarthy, a middle-aged self-help author who has recently separated from her stay-at-home-dad husband (Private Practice favorite Paul Adelstein). When she turns to her divorced friends Lyla (Janeane Garofalo) and Phoebe (Beau Garrettfor advice, she struggles to find the best way to be single again.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Edelstein to talk about what drew her to the show, her take on the show's controversy and why she doesn't watch any of Bravo's signature Real Housewives franchise. 

You haven't been a series regular on a show since House, though you've had plenty of opportunities over the years. What was it about Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce that made you sign on?

There were maybe only four jobs that I wanted that I didn't get or just didn't work out timing-wise. This was finally that one because she's a smart woman who's my age, but who's also vulnerable. Especially since House, people just see me as this "I've got it under control" woman, and this woman does not have it under control. I get to use more of me to play her. The writing is so smart, raw and funny; it's everything that you could wish for in a show. It's dramatic and hilarious, but it's grounded in a realness. It's not over the top.

How would you describe the show's tone?

It's humor that doesn't come from jokes — it comes from reality. It's the tragic reality of life sometimes, where ridiculous things happen or you get in certain situations that are unavoidable. It's coupled with real, raw emotion, real feelings of friendship, complicated relationships, complicated stories. It's not simplified. There's not a bad guy or a good guy in our divorce. It's very multicolor, multifaceted.

Read more TV Review: 'Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce'

How does Girlfriends' fit in with the brand Bravo's developed through its unscripted series?

Bravo has the reality shows, and the people who love those shows also watch scripted television, but they go somewhere else. I guess the mathematical equation becomes: What do those people watch when they go for scripted? They're not watching The Housewives or a version of it — they're watching whatever they're drawn to. I think that this will capture the imagination of that very intelligent crowd (laughs).

How have the people around you responded to your decision to star in a scripted series on a network that's never attempted a scripted show before?

People have been super excited. I'm amazed. I was in the airport the day before the posters came out, and I got recognized three times as that actress from that new show on Bravo. That was a testament to their promo department, and how hard they've been working on putting our show out there. This one woman literally said to me, "Well, it's going to be a huge hit. It's on Bravo!" People who love Bravo are very passionate about it. They're not kidding. It's a serious relationship they're in.

What other shows would you compare Girlfriends' to?

It's got a really different tone than anything else on TV, but of course it's been compared to Sex in the City and Girls because it's about women, though it's not only about women. But I think if you were going to start there, it's a much more raw take on relationships than you would see in Sex in the City. You're not going to see those kind of scenes in Sex in the City.

How do you find the show's delicate balance between comedy and drama?

It's so much fun to be able to do both under one roof because they're already so intertwined. So much of comedy is tragedy, so I've had the time of my life being able to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other. It's not a jokey show. It's just the flipside of the same coin. It's definitely both.

Did it surprise you that the shows posters were banned in some cities?

I'm smiling and holding my ring finger up. How dare I! One newscaster said that it threatened the very fabric of society by mocking the sanctity that is marriage, which I thought was hilarious because no one has seen the show. People had opinions on either side of the argument as to whether it was mocking marriage, but no one had seen the show, which does not mock marriage, by the way. The show is about relationships. It explores why a relationship could fail. It's a warning in some ways. All the characters are very much looking for love and looking for fulfillment that way in their lives, but they're also trying to move forward with their lives.

What's your favorite Real Housewives?

I don't have one. I'm not a reality show viewer. I'm only a scripted viewer. I've watched some of the Housewives, but I get very upset. I worry about them and the fighting. I don't have relationships like that in my life, so it's upsetting. It gives me anxiety. Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce is different because it's scripted. It's fiction.

Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Bravo.