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A version of this story first appeared in the Dec. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Streamer Hulu is serious about Casual, its first-ever horse in the awards race. The half-hour from newcomer Zander Lehmann and executive producer Jason Reitman earned a Golden Globe nomination for best TV comedy. Michaela Watkins and Tommy Dewey, who star as siblings unlucky in love, break down what the HFPA’s notice means.
Congratulations on the nomination. Tell me where the other person was when they heard the news.
WATKINS Tommy was at work, on the set of Code Black, where he had to be very early in the morning.
DEWEY I basically found out in real time. I was driving onto the Disney lot and my phone blew up. I immediately began harassing everyone. I had the good fortune of breaking the news to Helen Estabrook, one of our executive producers. I called Zander and screamed in his face, and then I called Michaela. I woke you up right?
WATKINS I woke up and saw you were calling. Did I call back?
DEWEY You did. I snuck out of a fake emergency room and hid behind a nurses’ station to take Michaela’s call.
Were you surprised by the nomination?
WATKINS It was a special show, and we were hoping that other people would think it was special. It was not expected but it’s what you hope for.
DEWEY We are very proud of the show. it rolled out in October, so it’s only a couple months old at this point. I can’t claim to know how this stuff works, but you hope people had time to take it in and digest it. Luckily the HFPA really did take the time to look at it closely, so we’re psyched.
How did you celebrate?
DEWEY We went to a bar in Echo Park and drank a variety of wines and hugged and laughed. I don’t think we cried. It was mostly upbeat. It’s a testament to the great working environment that once the APB was put out that we were celebrating, every single person that’s been involved with the show showed up.
WATKINS Even Jason said, “I’m bringing my passport,” which meant he was coming to the Eastside. It really takes a lot to get Jason to leave the Westside of Los Angeles. (Laughs.)
How does it feel to be the first Hulu original to receive awards recognition?
DEWEY It’s so rewarding. They showed so much faith in Zander and Jason’s vision for the show, and they signed off on me and Michaela to star in this thing, so to return the favor by being the show that gets their first Golden Globes nomination feels really cool.
WATKINS It’s a pretty tight group. Usually the network brass is so far removed from you in these types of settings, but they’ve just been so accessible. It felt like we were all on a creative team together.
Was the show helped by being available via streaming?
WATKINS It helps the audience find the show, as opposed to hoping that your show finds the audience, which is amazing.
Do you have a sense of how people watched?
DEWEY These services are set up so well for different breeds of viewer. There’s the person who can watch it weekly and not panic when they don’t have another episode queued up, and then there are these binge crazies that want it all there.
WATKINS Tommy, didn’t it feel like there were two ways? There were the people who were waiting for a new episode each week and then there was another wave of people who were like, “I just watched it all on Saturday.”
DEWEY There were people reaching out to me saying, “Look, I’m looking forward to your show but I refuse to watch until I can watch it all.” It’s a funny thing that this new era of TV has created.
What do you think made this show stand out?
DEWEY It’s the kind of show that you can really watch in a run of 10, and it plays like a long movie. Thanks to Hulu for letting us do that kind of serialized show. Especially in comedy, sometimes there’s a pressure to wrap things up. But for an actor to be able to play a longer arc and develop a character for 10 episodes is really cool.
WATKINS It was weird: We fell into a tight brother-sister rapport really fast, around the second read-through with the network. All of a sudden I realized, Tommy and I have the exact same sense of humor. It felt like everybody was vibrating together in this good, gelatinous pool of emotions and sarcasm and sexuality and humor and family dynamics — all the parts just hummed along.
What are you looking forward to at the Globes?
WATKINS It’s going to be another way to celebrate our show on a whole new level with some really fancy people. I’m not going to wear Spanx and I’m not going to wear an uncomfortable shoe. Anything beyond that is going to be amazing.
DEWEY I’m going to wear both.
WATKINS Tommy, you would not last five minutes in Spanx or an uncomfortable shoe.
DEWEY You’re right. I’m also a big Ricky Gervais fan, so I’m looking forward to seeing him live.
WATKINS Listen, I don’t want to make a big deal about this, but Mark Ruffalo is easy on the eyes.
DEWEY Here we go with Ruffalo again.
WATKINS It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Just “Hey, how are you” and “You look nice.” A little banter, that’d be fun.
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