If you do everything right as a parent, you get fired from the job, actress Kyra Sedgwick says.
“You birthed them, they turn out to be great people and you want to hang out with them and then they have other things to do,” the mother of two explains.
That feeling of abandonment fuels Sedgwick’s new series, “Call Your Mother,” an ABC comedy about an Iowa mom who moves to California to be closer to her twentysomething daughter, Jackie, and son, Freddie.
Writer/producer Kari Lizer says she was prompted to write the series when her three children left home. “The only part that is not true is I have not traveled and chased them around the world, only because they wouldn’t let me,” she says during a Zoom conference.
Still, a visit to Iowa to see her son encouraged her to begin the series there. “I’m sort of smitten with Iowa,” Lizer says. “My son worked in Iowa on a campaign for a while and I would visit him. There are very nice people there and it seemed like a good place to be from that was not Los Angeles. So, when (Sedgwick’s character, Jean) got to Los Angeles, that would be a very ‘other’ place to be from.”
Upset she hasn’t heard from son Freddie in four days, Jean decides to leave Iowa (armed with socks and toilet paper) and move to Los Angeles – for a while. She moves into an Airbnb, falls for the home’s owner and discovers why her son and daughter haven’t kept the lines of communication open.
Sedgwick says the premise rings true.
“I honestly think if someone told you you were going to have to be a mom for the rest of your life, not just the first 18 years of their life, you might actually think twice about having children,” she says.
Son Travis and daughter Sosie, aren’t interested in the work she or husband Kevin Bacon do.
“They don’t watch our shows,” she says. “They have no interest in thinking about us as anything but mom and dad.”
For Sedgwick, who won an Emmy for her work on “The Closer,” “Call Your Mother” represents a full-time opportunity to embrace comedy. “We spend the whole day laughing,” the 55-year-old says. “I’m having a ball. I can’t wait for a time when we can have an audience there.”
Because it was shot during the coronavirus pandemic, the sitcom has required social distancing and filming without a studio audience. “We run it like a play…but you don’t get the idea that (the comedy) is landing,” Sedgwick says. An audience, she adds, will add to the excitement.
Joey Bragg, who plays her TV son, Freddie, says the cast bonded as a family quite quickly (“it went from 0 to 100 so fast”) because they had been in quarantine so long. “We helped each other out,” he says.
Also crucial: Orbit, the golden retriever who plays the Airbnb’s dog. “I had a high stress level (during the pilot) and he was really calming,” Sedgwick says. “He’s very good at his job.”
Rachel Sennott, who plays daughter Jackie, says it has been important to find a “community” during the coronavirus pandemic. “You need that base during a time like this,” she says.
Because “Call Your Mother” doesn’t ignore the disease (“It’s not a fantasy that COVID never took place,” Lizer says), it heightens Jean’s experience with her children. “It’s a world where COVID definitely added to this feeling of isolation,” the producer explains.
While Lizer has written more pointed comedies (“The New Adventures of Old Christine” among them), she wanted this to be more comforting.
“First and foremost, we hope that it’s funny,” she says. “Beyond that, I hope what resonates is these are people who really care about each other.”
“Call Your Mother” is now airing on ABC.