Every week, Another Period creators and stars Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome, who play spoiled socialite sisters Lillian and Beatrice Bellacourt, take viewers behind the scenes and share insight into how they crafted each episode. Below, their thoughts on the second episode of the comedy’s second season, “Annulment.”
Now that Beatrice and Lillian have been instructed to date and find new, absurdly wealthy husbands to keep the Bellacourt fortune alive, both sisters have to annul their marriages. First up: Beatrice and Albert, a pairing that hits a snag when Beatrice’s hatchets terrify him and cause him to lose control of his hands. As the episode continues, the two debate whether hatchets have to be controlled — Beatrice insists that hatchets wouldn’t be dangerous if everyone else had hatchets to protect themselves, but Albert wants to keep hatchets safely contained to avoid more disastrous hits in the chest — a plot that clearly echoes the debate over gun rights.
RIKI LINDHOME: It’s clearly a huge problem, just looking at the events [in Orlando]. It’s a crazy problem we’re having, and so of course we need to draw a parallel to that. Beatrice takes the side of the NRA, and Albert takes the anti-hatchet side, because he’s been injured by a hatchet, but of course [Beatrice] vehemently disagrees.
NATASHA LEGGERO: I mean, we wish the topic wasn’t so timely. I think the idea actually came [when] there was a huge shooting when we were in the writers room and now of course, there’s another huge [shooting]. The worst one we ever had just happened days ago, so it’s unfortunately so timely.
LINDHOME: I don’t think it was [the original plan to expand Albert’s season 1 hatchet attack into a gun control allegory]. I would like to say so, but —
LEGGERO: We have so many talented writers this year, and we do this thing where we “blue sky” it basically for the first two weeks [and ask], “What are any ideas that could happen in this season?” So I think hatchet control probably came from that… [The idea to name every hatchet] came from Riki’s head.
LINDHOME: Yeah, I was like, “What should my hatchet name be?” Benjamin just felt right, I don’t know why.
As for Lillian and Victor, the pair fight over custody of the Butternut Room, and the animosity between them overwhelms their amicable separation. Both do whatever it takes to stay inside the room: Victor stuffs bananas inside Lillian’s shoes, and Lillian sends a hit man after Victor’s family. It’s harsh — but it’s the Butternut Room!
LEGGERO: When we were visiting Newport, Rhode Island, we were in this room, and [the tour guides] were like, “This was the Butternut Room, everyone loved it, it was everyone’s favorite room,” or whatever. So you go to these houses in Newport, and all of the rooms have names like “The Golden Morning Room,” or “The Blue Morning Room,” and there’s like three different rooms you need to sit in before you even, like, go swimming at noon. There’s just so much circumstance, and you’ve got your sailing outfit and your dance outfit, and then you have to go home and take a nap and throw out your clothes, and then you listen to music for an hour. So, the Butternut Room was just one of these beloved, beloved rooms, so we took the name.
LINDHOME: [Writing the ways they would force each other to leave] was just like a writers room thing where people are giggling and topping each other. I think someone was like, “Oh, we should do silly things like put a banana in her shoe,” and then in retaliation, someone was like, “Oh, [she could] slaughter his entire family!” [Laughs]
LEGGERO: We always had this idea, too, that Victor and Lillian’s annulment would not be amicable, wheras Albert and Beatrice’s are. Albert is Beatrice’s gay best friend, whereas Victor and Lillian hate each other, so we always thought of their thing as a War of the Roses kind of thing, so that just kind of landed in the Butternut Room. And also just the idea of them fighting over who gets a room was funny. They don’t care about their children.
Speaking of children, the downstairs staff at the Bellacourt Manor had to contend with a new orphan on the team, a recruit Peepers finds at an orphan job fair. The orphan manages to make Garfield’s life hell — the child’s actually there to steal the Bellacourts’ valuables — but caters to Peepers’ sensitive side, even telling the butler he loves him.
LINDHOME: Orphans did routinely work in these manors, so we just thought, “What’s the silly version of that? Oh, a job fair! That’s so silly.”
LEGGERO: We did like the idea of Armen Weitzman, who plays Garfield, just totally getting dominated by a child. [Laughs] And it’s so fun to see what touches Peepers. It’s definitely not what you would think, but also, I think with Peepers, he’s just a little delusional about things.
LINDHOME: Michael can play anything, so it’s nice to see him have all these different emotions.
The episode culminates in a baby shower for Kermit — a common name in the early 20th century — that goes a little wild. The entire cast crowded into the mansion to film the scene, complete with hatchets, a comatose Chair, and, of course, a baby. Eventually, Frederick’s reappearance at the mansion upsets Albert, who ends up tossing a hatchet right in the direction of Kermit, and Beatrice blocks it by tossing her hatchet to strike it out of the way. One hatchet cuts off the orphan thief’s thumbs, and the other flies into the Butternut Room.
LEGGERO: One thing I remember was that we didn’t have enough extras, so [series director] Jeremy Konner’s assistant and some of the crew put on outfits to try to fill out the room.
LINDHOME: Yeah we were like, “Who’s in SAG? Anyone?”
LEGGERO: It was also really hard to decide what room to shoot [the scene] in because [the hatchets are] a special effect, and we always want to be taking the best care of this beautiful mansion they’re letting us shoot in. When the hatchet comes into the Butternut Room, the original line was, “Oh my God, the wainscoting’s ruined, I can’t live in a room with imperfect wainscoting,” but then they wouldn’t let us put the hatchet on the wainscoting, so we put it on the overmantle and we changed the line to, “How can I live in a room with an imperfect overmantle?”
LINDHOME: With a compromised overmantle! [laughs]
LEGGERO: Right, compromised, that was better.
LINDHOME: There were real [hatchets], there were rubber ones, and the one I’m dangling in front of Albert’s face, that was [made out of] like, Nerf ball material.
LEGGERO: [David Wain, who lays Albert] wasn’t scared, I think he was more scared about that true-to-life vagina that was painted on his chest.
The chest wound was the other major consequence of the hatchet attack from season 1. Albert’s female genitalia-shaped scar wasn’t the only disturbing development, however: During the baby shower, the Commodore also read a list of names honoring the Bellacourt children who perished before their baby shower, an idea Leggero and Lindhome wants to expand.
LEGGERO: We had the idea that since this is a family that comes with the second generation of people to come from Europe, they would celebrate — what did we call it, Riki? First Exit?
LINDHOME: We made up a holiday called First Exit, and it was our version of Halloween, but it’s celebrating the people who didn’t make it to their baby shower, which is a lot of Bellacourt children.
LEGGERO: We also had this line that we never used, that is, “A child really isn’t considered born yet until he’s old enough to play croquet.” There was just so much child death happening
During the entire episode, as well as the premiere, Chair stays in a coma, sleeping through the birth of her child and through his baby shower. Luckily, Christina Hendricks didn’t have to stay in one position for too long.
LINDHOME: We actually had a body double for some of it. If Christina’s deep in the background and we can’t see her, we just had a girl with the same hair and coloring put a party hat on. The day we had Christina, she was really funny. She was really game to give birth in a coma and have a party around her. She did it as much as possible.
LEGGERO: And to her credit, we have her doing some really crazy stuff this season, and she called and was like, “I’m dying laughing,” which was great because we were afraid we had too much for her. [Laughs] She’s a pretty concentrated actress.
LINDHOME: Yeah, she’s like a real actor, so she’s just so focused on a scene even when she’s playing a vegetable. [Laughs]
Another Period airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.