How I'm Living Now: Jill Kargman, Writer and Self-Proclaimed "Cuomosexual"

Jill Kargman portrait 2020
Pamela Berkovic

The 'Odd Mom Out' writer and star talks about the empty Upper East Side, her son's class getting "porn bombed" and her newfound love of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

With production grinding to a halt in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the entertainment industry has found itself navigating uncharted territory. To offer a better sense of how, The Hollywood Reporter is running a regular series that focuses on how Hollywood's writers, actors, directors, executives and others are living and working in these challenging times.

Having already made a career out of skewering her fellow Upper East Side mothers in books like Momzillas and on the Bravo comedy Odd Mom Out, Jill Kargman's lockdown outlet has been mocking them on Instagram — in one-minute daily updates such as Dzanielle, a SoulCycle evangelist having a very hard time with all of this. The newly devout "Cuomosexual," who is holding down the fort while so many in her tony neighborhood have fled for their vacation homes, recently spoke to THR about the horrors of rereading Lolita as an adult and her 12-year-old son's Zoom class encounter with a porn bomber. 

You've got three kids. Are you doing anything but facilitating school for them?

No, they all do it themselves. They're 17, 14 and 12, so they are all in different schools and have different Zoom protocols. My son's class had a porn bomber! Now he has to enter a code for every single class, because the Zoom bombing is a thing. Can you imagine?

Not at all.  

He laughed it off. I had to tell my friends not be concerned. Everybody thought it was a visual assault, but I think the kids all thought it was hilarious.

So, what's your routine now?

Of the seven deadly sins, mine is sloth. I'm sleeping a lot — for the first time since I was, like, a baby. I am a Disney character that has blue birds as my alarm clock. But I feel like my routine has been pretty consistent. I'm a Cuomosexual. I'm in love with Andrew Marc Cuomo. So I absolutely need to be in front of the TV for the Cuomo press conference — that and Lester Holt. I don't watch the Trump press conferences because I don't like screaming at the television.

What was your relationship with Cuomo before all this?

Indifferent. I voted for him, but I never watched him speak before — except maybe in the background on New York 1 while I was making breakfast. He makes me feel safe when the president clearly is making me unhinged. He is that kind of New York tough that pulls no punches. He'll rip Trump a new asshole, but he'll do it with a smile.

You appear to be wearing new SoulCycle gear, albeit sarcastically, on your Instagram every day. Did you already have all that? 

I never worked out until an early midlife crisis at 35. I had stage three melanoma. A social worker at Sloan Kettering said, "You really should exercise." So my friend dragged me to SoulCycle, and I became an addict. For nine years, I did it three or four days a week. I quit the day it was announced Stephen Ross, the owner of Soul Cycle, raised $12 million for Trump at that Hamptons fundraiser. I'm a big "Put your money where your mouth is" kind of gal.

But you kept the stuff.

I had a moment where I was about to throw out all the swag, and I thought, "It's always handy to have extra shit." The original stuff was in sync with my love of skulls and crossbones. 

Do you stay in them for the rest of the day? 

Oh no. I wear a full outfit every day, with tights, boots and skirts. I don't own pants. I don't own jeans. My leg has not gone through a leg hole. I'm like a Hasidic person, without the wig and the fucking through a hole in a sheet.

What's been the biggest challenge for you staying at home?

First of all, sheltering in place is a privilege. But all these people sent me that fucking meme saying that William Shakespeare wrote King Lear during quarantine. I feel this pressure to shit out some masterpiece. Shakespeare didn't have three kids asking about dinner. Sure, I'm not standing over the stove for three hours. I'm going on Seamless. As a writer, I'm just not feeling a magnum opus at the moment. I don't even know what the landscape will look like after all of this.

What were you supposed to be working on?

I had a pilot with the Odd Mom Out producers that we were supposed to shoot in May. I don't think we'll be able to shoot by fall, so I feel like it's got to be a year. 

Anything more longform from Dzanielle?

She was actually a character in this show Snobs that I sold to IFC, but sadly my executives left and it wasn't made. It was a really fun New York version of Upstairs/Downstairs. Dzanielle was one of the four main women. My producers were saying maybe I could interview people as a quarantine show, but I feel like a lot of people are doing that right now. I'm just enjoying doing my one minute a day.

A lot of people are doing way more than one minute a day. 

I have Live-itis, I'll be honest. When I go on Instagram and there's all those lit up circles, I've got to avoid them. Sometimes I'll enter by accident, and it's just a circle jerk of selling products. It cringes me out.

What's the Upper East Side like right now?

It's the exact same as August. I've seen this before, because I don't have a country house. At the end of season one of Odd Mom Out, there's a part where I'm making fun of August because everyone goes to the Hamptons. I wrote in the script, "a giant tumbleweed blows by." We had one the size of a Mini Cooper shipped from Utah and just blew it across Madison Avenue. It feels like that.

Do you have an impulse to work on anything else right now?

I have been doing freelance articles and just finished an essay for an anthology that is coming out later this year. It's a collection of people re-reading Lolita and writing about how their point of view has changed.

So, what's your verdict on Lolita?

Well, obviously it's so creepy and fucked up. I think I was a really sexual child. I remember licking the pictures of Kenickie in my Grease cast album. So when I read Lolita as a kid — maybe 14? — I was like, "Yeah, OK, nothing wrong with this!" Reading it now, with two teenage daughters, I thought it was the most twisted shit. Because it's always couched in literary praise, you don't think about how it's really about a dude my age trying bone a 12-year-old. So rereading it was akin to watching a Trump press conference, on that scale of maddening.

What's on the top of your to-do list when this is all over?

Going to a Broadway show and dinner with my family — just the perfect New York night out and then home in time for Saturday Night Live. I miss walking these streets, just drinking it in. I love New York. I can't live anywhere else. I don't even know how to drive. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.