Dysfunctional families are having a moment this fall TV season. Just look at Grandfathered, Life in Pieces, and veteran favorite Modern Family. And on Wednesday, Hulu adds Casual to the mix, a dark comedy that delves into life after marriage for Valerie (Michaela Watkins, Trophy Wife), a recent divorcée adapting to single life while living with her manipulative brother Alex (Tommy Dewey, The Mindy Project) and her sexually liberated teenage daughter (Tara Lynne Barr, Aquarius).
“When we meet my character, she’s at the lowest point of her life,” Watkins tells EW. “The dating world has completely shifted now that the Internet is here, and so the whole dating thing for both her and her brother goes off the wheel.”
Alex — who survived a recent suicide attempt — tries to control his romantic fate by creating a dating site that he of course uses to set himself up with any woman he finds attractive, regardless of how much they actually have in common. “You can already see that he’s incredibly clever and borderline manipulative,” Watkins says of her onscreen younger brother.
In the series premiere, Valerie and Alex find potential SOs on the site and go on separate dates at the same restaurant, which doesn’t exactly result in long-term love for either party.
“There’s something super satisfying about seeing them misstep,” Watkins says. “You’re so connected to them because the characters are so real. It’s kind of a cool trip.”
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Executive producer Jason Reitman (Juno) directs the first two episodes of the Zander Lehmann-created Hulu original series. And according to Watkins, the initial pair of episodes marks just the beginning of the unconventional trio’s slip-ups.
“The first two episodes are like a mise en bouche, where you go into the restaurant and they’re like, here’s this little palate cleanser, then they hit you with that really rich food,” she says. “That’s what the show does, after those first couple episodes, it just takes a turn.”
The following eight installments include one so devastating that the SNL alum had to take a stroll around the block after reading the script. ‘I was just like ‘Oh my God! That happens?’ ” Watkins recalls. “Then I just had to go walk.”
Casual streams Wednesdays on Hulu.