November 15th, 2010 by thetvchick
In a pack of rather weak freshman shows, Better With You stood out to me. It’s a traditional four camera sitcom that tapes in front of a studio audience, but I don’t find that distracting. The show centers around 3 couples — a married one, one who has been together a long time but has made a “valid life choice” not to be married, and a new couple who got engaged very fast. And of course, they are all related. Vicky and Joel are the parents of Mia and Maddie. Mia is newly pregnant and engaged to her not so long-term boyfriend. And Maddie has been with Ben for nine years but they are choosing not to get married. The show follows their adventures, but what I really love about it is that it reminds me of one of my favorite sitcoms of all time, “Friends.” Shana Goldberg-Meehan, the creator of this show was an Executive Producer on “Friends” so it’s natural that her new show would be reminiscent of the classic. I think it has really fallen into a good rhythm and I find myself laughing out loud and enjoying it every week. I recently had the chance to visit the set of “Better With You” and talk to the entire cast of the show. Big TV veterans Debra Jo Rupp and Kurt Fuller (Vicky and Joel) were hilarious as they talked about their chemistry, what attracted them to the roles and teased some upcoming holiday episodes.
Now that you have filmed a bunch of episodes, have you found more of the rhythm of the show?
Debra Jo Rupp: I think so. I think it takes a while to find your rhythm and it has changed considerably, from where we started with the show to what the rhythm of the show and how it’s structured. It’s very different.
Kurt Fuller:I think what has happened is they changed the structure of the show. It started out with looooong scenes…
Debra Jo Rupp: Didn’t I just say that?
Kurt Fuller: No.
Debra Jo Rupp: I think I actually used that word.
KF: Wait a minute, did she say long scenes?
She said structure.
KF: What I’m saying is, how we relate to each other did not start with us. It started with the structure changing and then we reacted to that. The structure — you know, we’re not on camera, so they can’t see you looking at me like that.
DJR: But I’m not the only one looking at you like that.
KF: In other words, yeah it’s changed a lot, and I think Debra had a good read on it.
So what made you (Debra) come back to TV for this role, and what attracted you both to Vicky and Joel?
KF: First of all, let me say this: As a character actor, I don’t go anywhere and I don’t leave anywhere. I just like to keep working. And it’s so great to have a job like this which is a steady, good job with good people and good writing. And the thing that attracted me to it was first of all, I knew Debra Jo has her own story, I don’t want to jump on that, but she was cast before me. I came into it the luxury of knowing that if I got it, Debra Jo would be playing my wife and that is like a master class in acting who really –
DJR: He so wants something from me. I don’t know what it is. But I will finding out after this interview.
KF: But that is the best thing. Because Debra Jo knows what she’s doing, and she’s great and she’s generous and she’s wonderful. And I know I’m saying things that people who lie and BS say about shows and I listen to Howard Stern and whenever anybody is interviewed on Howard Stern and they start saying nice things, he says “Cut it off! I can’t hear another actor talk about how wonderful somebody else is!” But it’s the truth.
KF: And now you could say a tear rolls down her face…
KF: And as older people, we are ancient for TV even though not in life. And we have a romantic life, we have a sexual life, we have a huge history that we carry on, but even though it’s a four camera half hour show, these parts are written with dimension in my opinion and I really, really appreciate that.
DJR: I left for four years. I actually did leave, and went to the east coast. I sold my house. I was out of here. And not done, but I knew that I had to have some time, some distance with Kitty Forman because she was on for so long and she was so recognizable. So I went and did theater — my first love — and then this year, I kind of went “Well, it’s probably now or never.” And I came back in February, and I auditioned for pilots and this one came by and I went “Oh my God, it’s a character who has nice clothes and lives in the 2000s and is so self involved, which was so different from Kitty. All Vicky cares about is herself, and I went “This is the one I want. This is the one I jump into.” And then Kurt, when we were reading — they had cast me and then we were reading for husbands. And I went in, and read, and Kurt came in and immediately, I was thrilled. And I don’t do the hiring. I don’t have the final say or anything, so I just kind of went “Okay, that’s who my husband is.” And when they all left, they said “Debra Jo, which one is your favorite?” and I said “Well, I’m not going to take a job away from another actor,” because that’s going to come back and hit me. So I went “I can’t really say…” “Well if we guess?” and I went “I don’t…” and they went “Kurt Fuller” and I went “Okay. Here we go.”
KF: And here we are.
One thing that struck me from the beginning is how much you all are believable as family. Have you guys been trying to actively spend time together off set?
DJR: No, that’s how good we are. That’s how good we are.
KF: Honestly, we’re here every day, and at the end of the day, I go to my real family, and everybody has their own things. There’s a bunch of people getting married. Everybody’s got stuff. Debra’s got her charity work and her victory garden.
DJR: You don’t need to write any of that. He has no idea what I do at home. And he’s asked me so many times. He’s like “What do you exactly do?”
KF: She’s soooo busy. But I will say the interesting thing you have hit on is that chemistry in a cast — you can’t — it either is or it isn’t. And we could not have chemistry and spend lots and lots of time together and still have no chemistry. But we happen to be like a family, and I don’t think there’s anything you can do short of hating each other that would ruin it. And that’s not going to happen until the third season.
You have the back nine, so you’ll be around for the rest of the season. Before that, were you guys keeping an eye on the ratings?
DJR: Are you kidding me? It was like everybody with their iPads going “What’s going on?”
KF: Anybody who tells you they don’t care are just lying. It’s our life. It’s our business. It’s how we figure out how we’re doing in our business.
DJR: We would take turns, because somebody (points to Kurt) would get very down. Oh my God, we’re not going anywhere. This is it. Somebody has to be the cheerleader — me — going “It’s fine, it’s fine.”
KF: We have three people — all the women — who have really known nothing but success in show business. And they’re all very positive. And the three men — this is my sixth or seventh series, forget how many pilots I’ve done. This is my sixth or seventh on the air series. This is the first one to ever get a back nine. So how do you think I felt things were going to go? Josh, too, Josh Cooke: Loser!!
KF: Jake Lacy: Nobody! So the guys, let’s face it, we were all expecting the worst. And the girls were all like “It’s going to be fine. You have to put positive energy out there.” So that was the difference.
One of my favorite scenes so far this season was Vicky acting out the e-mails. Will we see anything like that coming up?
DJR: I loved that! But wasn’t it like what your mother would do?
DJR: Like those things, like flashing the headlights. I mean, if my mother was still alive, I don’t even know how many e-mails she would forward to me. But it’s exactly — she was very passionate about it. “Don’t respond. Because they will kill you!” I loved it, because actually it was a little ode to my mother. But it was exactly how she would have — she would have been that uptight about it, she would have been that serious. My mother would not have done the dancing. I’m not sure my mother would have known really how to operate YouTube. That part she would not have gotten.
KF: The Worm, you know. I tried to do The Worm, and I didn’t recover from it.
DJR: The worm is tough. And I did not hurt myself.
Yeah I don’t think I could do it! And Is there anything you want to tease for fans that’s coming up?
KF: We have a great Thanksgiving episode coming up.
DJR: Yeah, we do.
KF: Really have a good Thanksgiving episode.
DJR: Our last four — they figured out the rhythm.
KF: They figured out the show.
DJR: Yeah. And you haven’t seen it yet. You really haven’t seen it come together yet.
KF: Tonight might be the first one and then it continues to be refined and refined and refined and they’ve got it down now.
KF: For better or worse, the shows that are coming up are really representative of what we do.
DJR: Yeah. And it’s basically — not so much [last week's] because it’s two separate groups — it’s the guys and the girls. But now it’s kind of the whole group.
KF: Right. We’re all together almost all the time.
DJR: And we have to get along.
Will there be a fun Christmas episode?
KF: Oh it’s so funny!
DJR: What was it about?
KF: Remember this was the airport…
DJR: Oh the airport.
KF: It’s very funny. Very very funny.
Do you guys go on vacation?
KF: You have to be careful. You know what, we may or may not go on vacation. We may try to go on vacation, but you don’t know.
DJR: And there is no lake house.
KF: Yeah, there’s no lake house that anybody talks about.
DJR: And there are NO scenes in an aiport.
KF: Now we’re being bad!
Better With You airs Wednesday nights at 8:30 PM on ABC.