[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for I Love That for You Episode 2 “Faux Florals.”]
In Episode 2, “Faux Florals,” Joanna (Vanessa Bayer), who has her dream job as a host at the Special Value Network (SVN), tries to take back the lie she told about her cancer coming back, but she’s tested by the attention she gets from being sick (a perk she squeezed every juice out of when she was younger and actually had leukemia). Meanwhile, her mentor and personal idol, Jackie (Molly Shannon), celebrates her 30th anniversary at SVN, and Joanna’s boss, Patricia (Jenifer Lewis), keeps doing whatever it takes to make the network money.
Rounding out the strong ensemble of supporting characters are Matt Rogers as Patricia’s assistant, Darcy, Aydin Mayeri as SVN host Beth Ann McGann, Punam Patel as Beena Patel, and Paul James as Jordan Wahl — vital members of the SVN production staff. Together, they create the “toxic” workplace that keeps the network running. And the petty things they say to their co-workers are bound to make you cackle (and maybe even give some catharsis).
Rogers, Mayeri, Patel, and James chatted with TV Insider about the episode and what makes their ensemble so horribly entertaining.
You’ve all worked in TV before. Was it fun to parody your own industry?
Ayden Mayeri: Yes.
Matt Rogers: A lot of the show is about like what’s projected out and what’s reality. I think that’s a big theme in the show is how people feel as a result of watching something, and then, when you get the peek behind the curtain, it’s a workplace like anywhere else. Ours happens to be especially toxic on-screen, but what we can confirm is that our set was a very positive place.
We all kind of fell in love immediately, which I think made it even easier to be truly cruel, vicious, and backstabbing to each other, which is kind of where it goes. You see a little glimpse of conflict with me and Punam’s character, and I’m very happy to say it heightens.
That yelling match Darcy and Beena get into in the hallway — I was cackling.
Punam Patel: They kept on letting us go, too! I’m curious how long that ended up being, because we were going back and forth for a good 30 seconds at one point.
Rogers: It’s a turf war between our characters. Punam’s character is the producer, and I’m sort of like corporate notes. It’s a recipe for disaster, especially when we’re two bitches.
It sounds like you got to riff a little bit. The writing is so funny already, but did you have the chance to improvise?
Mayeri: Yeah, they really let us go. We have the best writers in town, so it was starting at a great place. But we played a lot. It was very fun.
Patel: The writing is so excellent on this show. I feel like they were able to ground a circus. It is like Barnum and Bailey, but all of a sudden you’re feeling something, and you’re crying, and you’re feeling connected to someone. I think that’s a really tough thing, to do both of those so well, at the same time.
Vanessa Bayer has a talent for delivering the most cringeworthy lines imaginable. And some of those cringeworthy moments come when Joanna is trying to flirt with Jordan. Did any of her lines make you break while filming?
Paul James: There was one scene where I do remember breaking a little bit. But usually, when she gets that look in her eye, that to me is the excitement, like OK, where are we going to go? And then, the possibilities are endless. In the scene [in the pilot] where we meet and I showed her the dressing room, Michael Showalter, our wonderful director, said something to the effect of, “Guys, try to try to go a little bit longer.” We looked at each other and were like, “Wait, what?” And he goes, “I’m f**king kidding. You guys have been riffing for two minutes.” [Laughs.]
Is Beth Ann just going to wreak havoc now that Joanna stole her dressing room?
Mayeri: Beth Ann fully, fully unravels. Every time we got a new script, I was like, “OK, she has become unhinged!”
That tampon scene between Beth Ann and Joanna was so funny.
Rogers: There is nothing funnier than confident idiot.
Darcy idolizes Patty. What lengths will he go to to keep her happy?
Rogers: He really reveres her and really wants to make her proud, but also he wants to be respected by her. And I think that she makes clear throughout the season that she looks at him a certain way. When you’re someone that makes your job everything, and you invest so much into your professional life, and you start to feel undervalued in that regard, you do crazy things.
Let’s just say their relationship becomes jeopardized as a result of him not getting what he needs from her. It was not hard for me at all to be in awe of, in reverence of, and a little bit afraid of Jenifer.
In Episode 1, Patricia tells SVN employees to “sell themselves” to her. Beth Ann pitches herself basically as an Instagram mom. How would you package your characters?
James: Just a regular guy, likes a little bit of rock and roll, likes to be on his p’s and q’s, loves highlighters, and is here if you need anything.
Patel: I’m full of unsolicited opinions and awkward moments. And even if you don’t see me, I’m always there.
Rogers: I would say that Darcy is available to you for whatever you need! But please don’t talk to me if I am busy, which is pretty much all the time. So if you have something to say, say it right now. Oh, you’re not saying it? OK, well, then I’m leaving!
I have to ask: Have you bought anything from a home shopping network?
Mayeri: I have a ShamWow. It works great.
I Love That For You, Fridays, Streaming & On-Demand; Sundays, 8:30/7:30c, Showtime