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But the actress-comedian didn’t just draw on her own experiences for the narrative details of the Hulu dramedy, about a woman who reexamines her painful adolescence when she returns to her hometown after an unexpected tragedy. She also used her own life to determine the format for the half-hour series.
“I was just paying attention to the way I was watching things and observing content,” Schumer told The Hollywood Reporter when launching Life & Beth about why she chose to tell this story as a TV show instead of through a movie, like her loosely autobiographical 2015 comedy Trainwreck. “One night my husband and I were like, ‘Oh, we don’t want to watch a movie; it’s too long.’ But we wound up watching that Ricky Gervais show After Life, and we watched like three hours of that or something. So I was like, you know, I’m enjoying bingeable things right now. And I think one of the criticisms about this show is that it feels like a movie, like a long movie, and that’s kind of what I was capable of making. I just wanted to tell this story in the way that I’ve been consuming content.”
Schumer’s longtime collaborator Kevin Kane, who co-stars and serves as an executive producer on Life & Beth, indicated that the project’s format evolved from the story they wanted to tell, including the dual timelines following Schumer’s Beth as an adult and a teenager, with the younger version of her character played by Violet Young.
“It was the first time we ever worked on a narrative television show and we just wanted to try to make the most of the venue,” Kane said, when speaking to THR recently at the premiere.
Schumer’s mom read every script and watched every episode of Life & Beth, and the actress-comedian has a strong relationship with her real-life sister Kim Caramele. But the actors who play Schumer’s character’s mom and sister, Laura Benanti and Susannah Flood, respectively, insist they are playing fictional characters.
“I’m not playing Amy Schumer’s mom,” Benanti added. “I’m playing Beth’s mom. We talked a lot about this character in particular, but I am in no way playing Amy’s real mom.”
Flood shared, “The character I’m playing is not Amy’s sister but, of course, Amy totally shared a lot of dynamics that she goes through as a sister. I share dynamics that I go through in my sisterly relationships. She was totally welcoming of any collaboration about the character and we kind of threw stuff at each other.”
While Benati’s Jane is seen throughout the series in flashbacks, she also plays a key role in the tragedy that serves as the catalyst for Beth’s self discovery.
As for why she chose that specific incident as the galvanizing moment, Schumer referred to the branch-breaking visual metaphor at the end of the show’s first episode.
“What doesn’t bend breaks,” Schumer said. “Her whole life and her relationship with her mom reach this breaking point.”
Life & Beth was recently renewed for a second season, offering an opportunity to answer some lingering questions from season one, including what may have influenced Beth’s sister as she grew up.
When asked what could have caused an apparent change in that character’s temperament from childhood to adulthood, Flood said, “I imagine any number of things about what that specifically could be, but I’m kind of waiting for Amy to write that. I want her to be able to tell me what that is.”
Still she offered, “I think probably the shit hit the fan. I think that what we see is Ann has this eccentric spirit, and she’s a spirited child, she has a natural capacity for joy, and then something happens that makes it a lot more difficult to access any of that.”
All 10 episodes of Life & Beth‘s first season are streaming on Hulu.
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