Single Parents, created by J.J. Philbin and Elizabeth Meriwether, is an ensemble comedy that follows a group of single parents as they lean on each other to help raise their seven-year-old kids and maintain some kind of personal lives outside of parenthood.
Meester stars as Angie, a single mother to a young son named Graham. The series also stars Taran Killam (SNL), Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond), Kimrie Lewis (Scandal) and Jake Choi (The Sun Is Also a Star).
Global News sat down with Meester in Toronto to talk about Season 2 of Single Parents, whether her character has taught her anything about parenting and much more.
Global News: How would you describe Single Parents to someone who has never watched the show before?
Leighton Meester: It’s a barrel of laughs, honestly, It really is just moment to moment. Watching it as a viewer, I really enjoy it and I think that’s silly to say that I enjoy my own show, but also, being on set is such a good feeling, to be able to go to work and have a laugh.
The show is about a group of single parents who, for whatever reason — whether it’s divorce or never having been a partner in the first place or, unfortunately, in one of the instances, death — we are raising our children on our own. But we have each other, and our children become friends and we become friends. We all look to each other to help guide us and also babysit for each other.
It was the chemistry and how much the group dynamic meshed and where Angie fits in. I just thought it would be really fun to play that off of everyone else’s character. As time goes on, I just feel so lucky I get such fun stuff to play with. Angie’s [an] at once grounded and then also completely in-outer-space character who is very tough. She definitely has her guard up because of life and all the circumstances that have brought her to this place. Even though she’s got a lot of walls and she’s sort of tough on the outside, she’s really such a good mom and a caring person. She’s very sensitive, vulnerable, witty, and all of that makes her a very well-rounded character that I’m very lucky to play. It was an exciting and humbling endeavour to try to embody a single mom. I knew that as a mom myself, it is the hardest job in the world, and I’m saying this as someone who’s not a single parent. We do it with humour and we deal with real-life situations in a funny way. It’s something that I think is not highlighted enough on TV.
How would you say Season 1 differs from Season 2 in regards to Angie?
Season 1 ended with Angie coming across her ex once again. He is the father of her son who she has built up a lot of rage for over the years. She has kind of kept it contained and sort of hated him. She never really talked about him and never let her son meet him. Now that can of worms is open so the rage has a way to come out. She sends him an unhappy email, to say the least. She is very, very mad. Coming in the season, he will be coming back into her life whether or not she likes it. She reacts in a sort of interesting way. That’s the theme for the year for Angie, and she’s being forced to open up and bring that conversation to her kid whether she likes it or not. She also has a lot of fun this season, like dating and meeting people and that element of her being the single part of a single parent.
I interviewed your husband, Adam Brody, two months ago for Isabelle and Ready or Not and I know that you two have worked together in two other movies. How has the experience been for you two working on Single Parents?
So fun! It’s so great, and right off the bat, I remember meeting with all the writers before the show started and mentioning: ‘You know, my husband’s an actor if you ever want to…’ They were like: ‘Oh! He would want to do it?’ I told them yes before even checking with him first. Then J.J. Philbin, the showrunner, was telling me last season that we were going to meet Graham’s dad, and she pitched the episode to me. I asked her who was going to play the dad and she said: ‘In my dream, it would be Adam.’ I thought it made perfect sense. He’s also very funny, and it was amazing to have him come and experience my other world with my other life and family on the show. We get to carpool to work and enjoy each other.
Has your character taught you anything about parenting that you would use in your own parenting life when it comes to your daughter?
Characters are built up in a big way to be larger than life, and Angie’s son… he can be clingy. I think there’s an element of that in a lot of people’s children, especially the first child. That’s the deal with my kid, but she’s not clingy, she just needs a lot of attention, as all children do. Angie has this really awesome philosophy of like letting her kid make mistakes and go off on his own and have his own feelings. She’s a soft parent and lets him make his own mistakes, and that’s how children need to be. I’ve learned that from her. I’ve also just learned it from being a parent, that you can’t show them how to do things or teach them. They have to learn. She’s also taught me that listening and seeing things with humour is a good thing.
Does being a mother now change how you would approach this role compared to if you were to take it on 10 years ago?
Absolutely! It makes a huge difference that I’m living that at home and experiencing it. I’m comfortable playing someone who is not a mom; that’s fine, too. But it really is such a unique and special role in life that having that experience is only that much more helpful for me in my work.
Do you get more nervous when you are filming a show or when you are working on Broadway?
Broadway, times a million! Although you do get more comfortable as time goes on. You get to a place where you’re more relaxed, and then something happens or someone forgets their line and you have to scramble and then you realize you shouldn’t get too comfortable because things can change every single time. You’re always on camera and on screen on Broadway, even when you’re not talking. Whereas in film, you get used to the idea that you’re going to be edited, and they’re going to pick the best take. You can take back a line and say it again, but that’s not the case with Broadway. Anything can happen, but that’s also what makes it so exciting and getting feedback from the audience in real time, whether it’s laughter or tears, it’s very fulfilling.
What’s next for you in 2019?
I’ve written an album so I’m recording that right now and I’m about halfway through. Then, of course, Single Parents, and I have a movie coming out called Semper Fi, which will be in theatres in October.
(This interview has been edited and condensed.)
Single Parents airs Wednesdays at 9:30 ET/PT on Global,
WATCH BELOW: Leighton Meester, Taran Killam talk ‘Single Parents’ season 2