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Casual episode 7 recap: Liz Tigelaar talks Threesomes

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Greg Lewis/Hulu

Every week the cast and crew of Hulu’s dark comedy Casual will be taking EW behind the scenes: For each episode, one member will be recapping and sharing their thoughts on what went down in addition to walking us through the ins-and-outs of the show. This week, writer and EP Liz Tigelaar walks us through episode 7, “Threesomes”… 

Cut to December 2015: Woohoo! Episode 7. In Writers Room terms that means, we broke half the season, know each other’s Starbucks orders by heart, and likely, someone has cried. It also means we were about to take a two week holiday break and Zander and I were going to use the “vacation” to crank out 207 (me) and 208 (him).

No problem; I had a whole plane ride back east. I could sit back, relax, and get half the script done. Except I was traveling with a newborn baby along with my French bulldog, an emotional support dog. So instead, I panicked for 5 hours and ended up writing this episode in my in-laws basement, typing while breastpumping, as everyone upstairs battled the Noro virus. Merry Christmas! 

But before the writing comes the breaking. And breaking an episode is actually the opposite of how it sounds – it’s putting the episode together. And this is what we do in the writers room every day… once we’ve recapped all of the events that have transpired since we were last together (the night before), contemplated every scene of our TV obsession (in this case, it was The People vs. OJ Simpson), decided on lunch, then refueled with a snack (because now we’re exhausted from all the recapping). Then the real work begins. And by “work,” I mean we talk about our exes, our sex lives, our marriages, our career mishaps, our deepest darkest most embarrassing moments, confessions and fears, which ultimately leads to our story.

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When starting to break any episode, we look at where we ended the previous episode and how we want to launch into and propel our characters through the next one. We first focus on what emotional story we’re telling and then find the plot to illustrate it. We knew we wanted to explore Valerie choosing Jack, despite sleeping with Harry and Jennifer’s tacit warnings. We knew her journey of the episode was to at first feel exhilarated by that choice, but ultimately burned. And in the course of the story, we wanted to see a new side of Valerie starting to emerge. With Alex, he’s driven and determined to get what he wants – and is surprised to find out that as he manipulates the situation, he too is being manipulated. And with Laura, we wanted to explore the casualness of which she views sex and the walls she puts up to avoid intimacy, in this case, positioning Spencer to create distance from Aubrey.

NEXT: The inspiration behind that BYO-drink recipe scene [pagebreak]

Once we know the emotional stories and the general plot beats, we infuse specifics. For instance, one writer told a story of a friend who carries her drink order in her purse to hand to bartenders; another writer mentioned the aggressive marketing billboard campaign on the 101 for Anderson’s Pea Soup – both of those details made it into the episode. We also explore original, fun, sideways takes on scenes, like our teenager characters starting their threesome with an opening bid and negotiation. And who doesn’t love an OC reference when you can wedge it in? The Tijuana episode!

This episode was particularly fun to shoot because we had a big group engagement party – which meant all of us got to hang out on the back patio of a restaurant in Hollywood, snap weird pictures between takes, debate what the snack at crafty was, and try to resist eating another apple fritter (just me).

Reunited with this girl / Courtesy of Liz Tigelaar
Vincent is SO excited about Lilith Fair. Britt was only 7 then / Courtesy of Liz Tigelaar

Another reason I personally loved this episode is that it reunited me with Britt Roberston. Britt played the lead on my show Life Unexpected and getting to work with her again was especially sweet. I met her when she was 17 – when she was a kid, still playing a kid. It was fun to see her all grown up, in this mature role, crushing it.

These three photographed my finger-butt / Courtesy of Liz Tigelaar

 

And speaking of crushing it, I have to give a shout out some others who did: Lynn Shelton, who not only directed a beautiful episode, but gave out handwritten thank you notes to boot; Michaela, who can make anything moving, raw and poignant… even a monologue about Anderson’s Pea Soup; Tommy, who exudes the charm to make Alex completely likeable, even when he’s doing the most unlikeable, self-serving things; Tara, who I would argue portrays the most honest teen on “television;” and huge props (as in kudos, not giant props) to our other amazing Britt, Britt Lower as Sarah (f—ing) Finn. Initially, we’d written a crazier version of her, but Hulu really challenged us to keep the character grounded – Britt walked an incredible line of being truthful, relatable, and real… with a delightful hint of crazy. Also, I have to mention Kyle Bornheimer — a dear friend — who I’ve been dying to work with and write for for years. It’s fun to see him in this unexpected role. Not only is a he comedy genius, he has an adorable butt (which you’ll see a lot of). 

So stay tuned for next week’s episode, where you’ll see how crazy things get, and keep your eyes out for one of my all-time favorite scenes of the season. Zander says he only wrote the scene because the episode came in a few pages short. I think he wrote it because he’s a (f—ing) genius.

 

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