More than 20 years after starring as wisecracking Al Lambert on TGIF sitcom Step by Step, Christine Lakin is back. Well, to be fair, she never left. She’s done everything from acting in teen comedies to choreographing for True Blood. Though she never lived the “washed-up child star” cliché, she’s ready to poke a little fun at it — and herself — with Lovin’ Lakin, a mockumentary-style web series not unlike The Office or Matt LeBlanc’s Episodes.
Lakin plays a version of herself: A 30-something actress poised to make a comeback — or so she thinks. Everyone around her (including Kristen Bell, Step by Step dad Patrick Duffy, and Kristin Chenoweth, and Seth MacFarlane, to name a few) sees Lakin the character a little differently. “Lakin is egotistical, flighty, and totally un-self-aware,” the actress tells EW. “She’s kind of like this lovable Michael Scott type — he thinks he’s so great, but everybody [else] knows he’s the biggest idiot around.”
Below, watch a preview for Lovin’ Lakin, then see who inspired Lakin’s on-screen persona, which ’90s icons she hopes to book if the series gets a second season (hint: ThighMasters will be mandatory), and how she felt when she saw her TV dad in a towel in those (literally) steamy Dallas ads.
Do Lakin’s ditzy diva antics ring a bell? She’s entirely rooted in reality, says the actress. “I’ve met a lot of people over the years who definitely think, for lack of a better term, their s— don’t stink,” she says. “It’s funny to me to see people who think they’re at a certain point in their career and can’t be bothered by anyone around them. That’s where I got this [idea]. Lakin is so in her own world, that she can’t see what an idiot she is.”
Some of that idiocy includes telling Chenoweth she’s off-key, going on a JDate because she thinks it stands for “Just Date,” and teaching a children’s acting class mantras such as “Chardonnay is mommy’s juice.” The show, says Lakin, “is a great amalgamation of improvving and using [my] scripts. We got some of our best stuff with the improv.”
One of the best improvvers was You Again co-star Jamie Lee Curtis, who so cursed up a storm in an episode that it had to be kept in the vault. “It was a little too blue,” confessed Lakin. TV dad Duffy also had a bit in You Again, and Lakin used his time on set for a little web-based reunion. Fortunately, that was before he began filming Dallas — and shot a certain sexy throwback semi-nude ad campaign. “I adore him so much, and he’s been such a wonderful person in my life — very much like a second dad,” she admits, adding, “he’s such a wonderful guy, such a handsome man.” But still, “It’s like, ‘Okay, for the love of God, put some clothes on, dad!’
Though Duffy and Step by Step co-star Staci Keanan both stopped by for season 1, Lakin still has one big get in mind for the second season: Suzanne Somers, who played her mom on Step by Step. “Obviously there will be some kind of ThighMaster joke,” she laughs. “My mom still has the ThighMasters, the ButtMasters. She’s the one who kept them all in my childhood home. I’d have to have her ship one out to me. I think I should just have one in a random episode just for fun. That’s probably Lakin’s main form of exercise!”
And that’s just the beginning. Lakin has an impressive list of stars who might join Somers. For starters, longtime friends Melissa Joan Hart and Kellie Martin, and Beverly Hills, 90210 star Shannen Doherty. “I think it be a blast because I think people would like to see that whole TGIF [generation. It would bring back] memories of their childhood.” To add a little testosterone, “I think Lakin would love to go on a date with [White Collar and Magic Mike star] Matt Bomer. She would think that he was totally into her” — until she finds out about his husband and three kids. To paraphrase another ’90s child star, that would be so Lakin.
Lovin’ Lakin premieres July 16 on Hulu and YouTube.