Comedian Maria Bamford goes the absurdist route for her Netflix mockumentary, Lady Dynamite. The 12-part series, co-created by Arrested Development‘s Mitch Hurwitz and South Park alum Pam Brady, stars Bamford as a version of herself, also named Maria, whose everyday life is full of wacky characters played by big names like Patton Oswalt and Mira Sorvino, candy-colored sets, surreal asides (example: she occasionally turns into a lamb), and pugs. Plenty of pugs.
EW called Bamford to hear about her most memorable moments of the series — like episode 3’s support group for white people against racism — where they came from, and what went on behind the scenes.
EPISODE 1: “Pilot”
Maria wrongs Mark McGrath — yes, the Sugar Ray frontman — so she spends half of the episode trying to make it up to him. “The writers on the show loved the idea of getting Mark McGrath on there, and they just got obsessed with it,” Bamford explains. “He’s such a lovely guy. I talked to him about what it’s like being somebody who’s visibly famous. He says, ‘Oh, yeah, wherever you sell kettle corn, that’s where Sugar Ray is playing.’ He’s very humble and very sweet.”
Maria doesn’t think he’s so sweet once she finds out his Open Arms charity isn’t about hugging like she thinks, but about changing open carry laws “so people can go into Starbucks with semiautomatic weapons,” as Bridget Everett’s character clarifies. Despite Maria’s reluctance to support this kind of organization, she goes through with her planned Open Arms event, where she tries out one of those arms for herself.
“I got to shoot a gun!” Bamford says. “Which… was interesting. And I still don’t think I should have access to a gun,” she laughs. “I am still anti-gun.” And even (a fictional version of) Mark McGrath can’t change that.
EPISODE 2: “Bisexual Because of Meth”
Episode 2 was a big one for Bamford: It’s where she had her first kiss — her first onscreen kiss, anyway.
“I was really scared about that,” Bamford says. “And the guy who played the bisexual meth addict, he was very nice, he was just like, ‘Oh, no big deal!’ He had done tons of soap operas. Turns out, it’s just kissing. It doesn’t mean I’ve left my husband or anything like that. It’s just a job. It’s a job that involves kissing.”
“I’m sure my body was doing weird things, because we are just little animals,” she continues. “I’m sure my brain was giving off weird pheromones and stuff. But that’s not my fault! My brain does that at other times, like during car commercials when there’s a handsome Matthew McConaughey, whose beliefs I do not confer with. But it doesn’t mean he’s the one I love.” Hear that, McConaughey?
EPISODE 3: “White Trash”
Ahead of appearing on a sitcom alongside two black stars (played by 22 Jump Street‘s Kenny and Keith Lucas), Maria tries to brush up on her tolerance by going to a P.U.R.E. (People United for Race Equality) meeting, where she finds a group of white people discussing racial issues. And evidently, that’s a real thing.
“I had gone with my husband to a Black Lives Matter event, as you do when you are ridiculously white,” Bamford laughs. “We went, and they said, ‘Hey, white people, heads up, could you not use our resources when you’re doing this activism? Because it’s not for you. We appreciate the support, but could you do your own thing?’ And they suggested we go to this place called A.W.A.R.E., Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere, which exists in Los Angeles.”
The meeting experience seen on the show isn’t from her own life, though: Bamford says she and husband looked A.W.A.R.E. up online, but opted not to go. “It’s such a funny idea, because it’s all white people. It’s all these well-meaning people, but it’s also…” she pauses. “It feels sort of creepy.”
EPISODE 4: “Jack and Diane”
Bamford’s known for her high-pitched voice, one that her character hides when she meets a cute guy (Brandon Routh) who is enchanted by her (fake) low, sultry voice. “When I was younger, they would be like, ‘Why don’t you talk in that other voice all the time?’ But you can’t do it all the time. I don’t know who would want to,” Bamford says. “I think everyone can relate, everyone’s felt like that in relationships. Like you’re trying to be this other person — more Australian, more of a drinker. Whatever it is they think that’s going to solidify the relationship.”
The whole house storyline has some basis in reality, too. In the episode, a realtor keeps showing Maria bigger and bigger homes before she ultimately settles on a huge one. “[My husband and I] have a house, but it’s pretty small. It’s around 900 square feet,” she says. “My mom, she always says, ‘Well, honey, why don’t you get a bigger house?’ I’m like, ‘Why?!’ The idea in our society is, if you can, get a bigger one… We’re happy in our house and it’s definitely big enough for us.”
NEXT: Episodes 5-8