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Surviving Jack

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April 03, 2014 at 05:33 PM EDT

From boy bands to Spice Girls to Steve Madden shoes – who doesn’t love the ’90s?

Christopher Meloni and Rachael Harris sure do, or at least are doing a great job of pretending in their new Fox sitcom Surviving Jack, which debuts Thursday at 9:30 p.m. ET. The show, about a doctor and former military man who takes over parenting duties for his teenage children when his wife goes to law school in 1991, is full of the decade’s style and attitude — something the stars are very comfortable with.

” The beginning of the ’90s were all about boy bands,” Harris told EW. “I was living in New York, obsessed with Kate Moss, the waif look was totally in. I loved big baby doll dresses with black tights and Doc Martens. If I wore it now, it would be sad.” For Meloni, it was more about the music than fashion. “All I remember is grunge came into vogue; I was all into that, and I was just trying to make it.” Grunge is something the co-stars had in common. “I was definitely more on the grunge side of things, but I rocked serious mock turtle necks, serious shoulder pads,” Harris says, joking that her high-waisted jeans also made her ass look two feet long at the time.

So what’s it like going back in time every day while still trying to relate to a modern audience? “It’s about learning to relate to kids on an emotional level in a way [Jack] hasn’t had to do in 17 years,” Harris said. “If it’s about real people in real situations, funny comes from that. [The show] has a lot of heart in the vein of The Wonder Years.”

Though Meloni is best known for his more serious work on Law & Order: SVU, he is no stranger to outrageous comedy with roles in films Wet Hot American Summer and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. In Surviving Jack, Meloni has to balance the funny side in a more contained environment. “When I read a script, I just go with what the page is telling me. You’re not going to get outrageousness from this guy, maybe from his attitudes, but I only think that’s because we’re living in an age of extreme political correctness.”

Now that they’ve mastered the ’90s, what other time period would the two like to travel back to on a set? Meloni is pretty open. “Honestly, anything. I love history. Anytime I’m walking around New York or LA or any of these great cities, I’m always thinking what was it like in the 1900s, the ’20s, the ’40s, pre war/post war. The ’50s not so much, and the ’60s have been done.” Harris also has a fondness for the mid-century. “Well you know, I think it would be around the 1940s because I love the fashion. Everything is very structured, lots of pencil skirts, tight jackets, really sexy without being sexy. Anything Katharine Hepburn, so, very funny but subtle.”

Meloni as a ’40s gangster with Harris as his arm candy wife? Who’s with me?

Surviving Jack airs Thursday on Fox at 9:30 pm ET.



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