TV Land’s sitcom The Exes returns for its second season of 12 episodes tonight at 10:30 p.m., so in anticipation of that, EW hopped on the phone with star Kristen Johnston to discuss what fans can expect on the coming episodes of the show. First, let’s start with the photo here, which shows a moment in next week’s episode — the second of the season — when Johnston’s character Holly learns that her client Stuart (David Alan Basche) is extremely well endowed — hence that big baguette.
“I find out he’s well endowed, and I try to insist to myself and everyone else that that matters not even a little bit,” Johnston explains, with a laugh. “Of course, he keeps trying to teach me how to cook and everything he pulls out happens to be a baguette or a giant cucumber, and I have to wash the cucumber. If there was ever a Lucille Ball episode — of me robbing from her — this is it.”
The scene proves to be hilarious, according to Johnston, and she says the episode is her favorite ever on a sitcom — and that includes the 139 she shot while playing Sally Solomon on Third Rock from the Sun. “This episode actually happens to be my favorite I’ve ever shot — in all of sitcoms,” Johnston says. “Mostly because hilarity ensues. I end up seeing one of the character’s schmagaggy, and it changes the dynamic between all of us. There are some hilarious scenes about me trying not to be swayed by how enormous it is and ignore it.”
There are other teases EW can reveal about this season. They run the gamut, as we’ve learned that a character gets kicked in the head by a stripper this season and another character uses their dog to hook up in a dog park. Plus: A character gets pregnant and another gets romanced by a fireman. It’s unclear if Johnston’s the one knocking boots with the firefighter, but she will have romance, she reveals. “[The Drew Carey Show star] Diedrich Bader is going to come back as an arc as a love interest for me,” Johnston says. “That’s cute.” And she adds: “Holly gets 100 cats… I’m kidding.”
After previewing the season quickly, Johnston quickly segued into talking about getting back into the sitcom rhythm 10 years after Third Rock was cancelled. “We shoot up right next to the old Third Rock from the Sun stage, that was stage 15 and we’re on stage 17,” Johnston says of CBS’ Radford Studio in Studio City, Calif. “It’s so weird.”
The weirdness stems from all that Johnston remembers about her time on Third Rock — the good and the bad. “Here’s what it is: I hated everything about Third Rock except Third Rock. I loved doing Third Rock, I just hated everything that came with it. I’m talking about being famous. I loved everything about being a famous actress except being famous. So now, I could give a rat’s a–, and I’m totally in my skin and you can tell and I don’t care. It’s all just a hoot to me now. It is just such a miracle, honestly, to come back sober and happy.”
Johnston thought returning to the same studio where she shot Third Rock might send her back into the dark place she was while shooting her breakout sitcom, much of which she details in her recent book Guts. “I thought there were going to be all these ghosts and all this weirdness, but it’s the greatest thing. I was very scared because I didn’t want to relapse,” she says. “Third Rock gave me so much — good and bad. I know people don’t like to hear about the bad, but whatever. It was actually a very life or death struggle for it, which you have to buy Guts to read about.”
More than anything Johnston is happy to be back working in television in a healthy capacity. “What I’m saying is coming back there as a sane, healthy, happy, solid person, I realize, Oh my God, I really am the luckiest person on the planet earth because I get to do what I love. It’s not brain surgery, I ain’t curing anything, but I do it really well,” she says. “I’m so lucky. The fact that I’ve got a paying job at 44 years old and I haven’t even had surgery, I mean, it’s a miracle! So it’s pretty great.”
The Exes second season premieres tonight at 10:30 p.m. after the series premiere of the network’s newest sitcom The Soul Man.
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky