NYC’s infamous parenting scene—a world of designer strollers and cutthroat Kindergarten applications—is about to get a healthy dose of humor, thanks to Bravo’s newest scripted series, “Odd Mom Out,” premiering on June 8. Helming the uncensored, and certainly cheeky, series are the show’s creator and star, mom-of-three and NYC-native Jill Kargman, and co-star, actor and dad-of-two, Andy Buckley.
Alongside a cast and crew that includes “SNL” alum Abby Elliott, and credits former “Sex and the City” writers Elisa Zuritsky and Julie Rottenberg as show-runners, Kargman and Buckley use their comedic talents to take playful aim at certain over-the-top trends popular in affluent parenting circles, while also showcasing what makes the city a unique and wonderful place to raise a family. Kargman, who’s also well-known as a novelist (her books include a hilarious satire of the Manhattan parenting world, Momzillas, and an LOL-worthy collection of essays, Sometimes I Feel Like A Nut) plays a version of herself (Jill Weber), using many of her own experiences as fodder for laughs; while Buckley (you may recognize him as Dunder Mifflin’s perpetually-exasperated CEO David Wallace from “The Office”), who resides with his wife and sons in LA, serves as a lovable counterpart to his TV wife’s wackiness (Andy Weber), as well as, in some ways, her partner in crime.
So just what does it mean to be an odd parent out on the UES (albeit a fictional one)? We got the behind-the-scenes scoop—on everything from the definition of “mom-bots” to how the parenting paradigm has shifted over the past couple decades—from Kargman and Buckley themselves!
New York Family: You created and star in “Odd Mom Out.” Tell us about creating a TV series coming from a writing background.
Jill Kargman: It was great. My books had all been optioned for either TV or film, but none of them were made, and I started realizing that no one was going to make it unless I was doing it—and you have more push when it’s yours and you have more fire under your ass. It happened kind of by accident. I met with Andy Cohen, who’s been a huge supporter of mine, and he introduced me to my goddess—Lara Spotts, who’s head of development for Bravo—and she really shepherded this show and said: “What is it you want to do?” She had read my books and we kind of developed it together.
NYF: How are you most like and most different from Jill Weber?
JK: It’s a version of me from 10 years ago when I was more concerned about doing it right. The difference is, of course, now I’m older, I’m working, I have three kids in school, we’re not as nervous about finding our way. My kids are kind of on their tracks. I think we have in common a sense of humor and a silliness about parenting.
NYF: Tell us about your own family—how do they compare to the Webers?
JK: My kids are older than the Webers. We thought, in the writer’s room, that the younger they are, the more chaotic it is. Some people have different opinions about that and they say: “Little kids, little problems.” I think that’s bullshit, I think it’s way harder to deal with the stress of thinking about schools and just getting them on the road to the right behavior and manners. Right now my kids kind of know right from wrong and it’s not as much work… My kids are 11, 9, and 7—two girls and a boy. The show has two girls and a boy too, but we have a girl who’s 8 and then 5-year-old boy-girl twins. And the boy-girl twins factor is extra tricky because the subplot of the whole series is applying to Kindergarten in New York City.
NYF: How does the parenting culture in NYC now compare to how it was when you were growing up here?
JK: New York was more dangerous in the 70s, when I was growing up, but I started going to school by myself at age 8. I would take the public bus up Madison and take the 5th Avenue bus home and everyone did it, but now, if you [let your child do that] you’d be arrested by child welfare services. And we didn’t have cell phones back then. It was a different world, in a bizarre way, because it was more dangerous but we had more freedom. Now, it’s safer but everyone is kind of hovered over. I give my kids more free range because I liked my independence, and I think it gives you strength and guts and you can face the world in a better way than if you’re too coddled.
NYF: What does it mean to you to be an “odd mom out”?
JK: You might feel like an odd mom out because you don’t live the same way or you don’t drive the same car [as everyone else]. It could be that your kid is not taking Mandarin or is not enrolled in as many afterschool things. You might be the mom whose kid isn’t an athlete and you’re not doing all these travel sports… It’s whatever you carry inside of you that makes you feel like: “One of these things is not like the others.”
NYF: The term “mom-bots” is used in the show’s promotions. How do you define that term?
JK: I’ll see four blonde moms walking all together and they don’t realize it, but they’re all dressed the same way, they all have the same stroller, they all have red bottoms on their shoes. And it’s just funny when you see that, so I think of that as a unit. It’s not that any one of them, when you’re alone talking with them at pick-up, is boring or a robot. They’re all nice individually, it’s just as a unit, you can’t help but feel that it’s this army coming towards you with stilettos and Bugaboos.
NYF: What are the biggest joys and challenges of parenting for you?
JK: The joys are just the fun, goofy parts. [I recently celebrated] my 13th anniversary and [my husband and I] went to Gramercy Tavern…and when we came home, the kids had gone totally crazy decorating the entire apartment. They put rose petals—I don’t know what the hell show they saw this on—leading up to the bed with a heart around our monogram, and: “We love you mom and dad! Love Sadie, Ivy, and Fletch.” We started laughing, and there was a bottle of wine and two glasses. I said: “You guys are hilarious, what is this?” And they said: “We want you to make us a little Miles or Dottie”—which are the names of two of the kids in the show. I was like: “Um, no! I’m closed for business—my fourth child is the show and there’s a ‘Ghostbusters’ sign on my uterus, but thanks anyway!” The challenges would be just sort of juggling three kids and getting everyone everywhere. But I think it’s more challenging outside of the city. I don’t drive…one of my best friends lives in suburban Boston and she’s just chauffeuring all day! For my personality, that’s way more of a challenge…I think it would be way worse being isolated somewhere, in a house, with crickets.
NYF: Tell us about working with Andy Buckley, your TV husband!
JK: He is the sweetest, sweetest guy on planet Earth! He’s completely devoted to his wife, Nancy Banks, who’s an acting coach, and his two boys, Xander and Benny… He’s just the sweetest thing. He kind of looks after me when I’m crunching lines or stressed on the set, like: “What can I get you?” He’s like a true-husband-friend-perfect-perfect-TV-dad… He has sort of a funny, improv, naughty side, where he’ll kind of throw a curveball and say a funny line that wasn’t written. –Mia Weber
NYF: How does the NYC parenting culture satirized in “Odd Mom Out” compare to the parenting culture in LA, where you live?
Andy Buckley: Our show—it’s perhaps a bigger money world then I generally travel in, so it’s slightly heightened, but a lot of it is pretty similar… The gluten-free this and the safety that, and how much for this, and “You can’t ride that skateboard without a helmet and elbow pads,” and the new politically correct way to parent. Which is funny, because we all made it through safely without the helmets and the kneepads, and eating all the potato chips we liked, and McDonald’s this and Wendy’s that. But, [the two parenting cultures] are definitely similar—it’s just in Los Angeles as opposed to New York. You have taller buildings [in NYC].
NYF: What drew you to this project? Do you feel like you relate at all to your character Andy Weber?
AB: Oh my goodness, yeah. A: Starting with the name—ba-dum-bum! But, B: [Relating to the character] was the thing that drew me to it. They had done a “sizzle pilot,” which I thought was super funny, and Jill is just a gem among gems. Then I got to meet her and have breakfast with her, and we just hit it off instantly. It was just a ton of fun. She’s a ton of fun to be around, and sharp as a tack—so that was it… All the scripts were funny as heck. And the situations that come up…it’s all pretty much based in reality.
NYF: What did working on “Odd Mom Out” make you think about New York parenting?
AB: I think there’s so much to do there, I mean it’s great—and I know Jill really takes advantage of it. She takes her kids [to a lot]—whether it’s dramatic plays, or musicals, [or] museums. And she’s exposing her kids to that artistic and cultural side, or they are just spending the day in Central Park because there’s no better place to spend the day, there’s just so much… You walk down the street and there are probably 12 different stories you could talk about just in a three block walk.
NYF: For our readers who don’t know the story, tell us about how you ended up on “The Office.”
AB: I’ll just say that during most of the 90s I was acting, or trying to act; and trying to get parts with very little success, and I finally sort of packed it in in 2001. Then I became a financial advisor—I was a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch; I started doing that [until 2012], and loved it actually… There were a few people who had tried to hire me in the 90s, but I bumped into [casting director for “The Office,” Allison Jones] at the local farmer’s market…in October of 2005 and she said: “Give me your card Buckley, just in case something comes up, you never know.” And then she really called me four months later, and said: “Hey, I think I have a new thing for you, you should come audition for this.” And it was “The Office.”
NYF: What was it like to be on this popular show about an office, and then go into work at a real office?
AB: It was a hoot. It was really funny. In the office, people were getting quite a kick out of it…if clients would walk in, they’d sort of do a double-take—not my clients, like other clients if they were sitting in the waiting room and I’d walk past—they’d go: “What’s that guy doing here? Is he a client here, that guy from ‘The Office?’” “No, he works here, his office is down the hall.” So it was fun.
NYF: Tell us about your children. What are they like at their respective ages?
AB: I have a 9-year-old and a 4-year-old, both boys: Benny and Xander. Benny’s the 9-year-old and he’s…all baseball all the time. He wants to be the first pro baseball player who is also a scientist…and then my 4-year-old is just a fun little goofball who likes to run around a lot.
NYF: What are the biggest joys and challenges of parenting for you?
AB: Honestly as a dad, just hanging around with my kids is a blast. Going to get an ice cream, or simple little things—[like] sitting in [Xander’s] bedroom reading him Green Eggs and Ham for the 30th time, ‘cause he still loves it… [In terms of challenges], you’ve got a lot of scheduling challenges. It’s crazy, that’s a big thing—you have playdates, and picking up and dropping off…certainly finding the time and energy to go out and do something fun with my wife is a challenge.
NYF: Tell us about working with Jill Kargman, your TV wife! Did you get any sense of her parenting style?
AB: Jill seems like a fantastic parent, as does Harry, her husband. She’s attentive, super-involved with her kids… [All the kids] would come to the set. And [she would] teach them things, whether it was teaching them how the whole TV set-up worked, or just talking about what’s going on at school…or stuff that’s happening in the world; I thought they were great. And I think the show overall is very much an extension of that. –Lauren Vespoli
To watch “Odd Mom Out” this summer, tune in to Bravo on Mondays at 10pm, starting on June 8!