Every week, Erin and Sara Foster, the creators and stars of VH1’s Barely Famous (Wednesdays at 10 p.m.), will reveal the best from behind the scenes of their faux-reality show in a conversation with EW. This week, the sisters dish on the fifth episode of the season, “Love & Upton,” in which Erin becomes a contestant on a Bachelor spoof in which her boyfriend is the prize, and Sara realizes her new BFF Kate Upton doesn’t see their relationship the same way.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There are a lot of running jokes throughout both seasons about the crew filming you both. Was this a meta joke about what it’s like to be filmed while making a TV show?
ERIN FOSTER: When we first developed the show, we really thought that it was going to be a show about the behind-the-scenes making of a reality show. We wanted me to date a cameraman and then have him filming me in a scene where I’m talking about breaking up with the guy that I’m dating. Basically, just really go meta with it all. I imagine when you’re making a reality show with a whole crew it’s bound to get complicated. I really wanted a storyline where I date a crew member, but it just hasn’t happened yet. For the most part, we’ve had the same crew for both seasons. There’s a cameraman who has worked on our show in real life both seasons. His name is Miguel, and he’s really cute. [Laughs] So it’s become a running joke that we’re dating.
SARA FOSTER: It’s our way of incorporating that show-within-a-show feeling, but we decided to sprinkle in a little less this season. It’s our way of tipping our hat that this is a show-within-a-show.
ERIN: I just have always liked the idea that if two girls were on a reality show and one of them was slutty and desperate, she would be hooking up with the crew off camera.
SARA: You know on one of those reality shows, there has been s— like that going down.
How long did you have Kate Upton for this episode?
SARA: We only had Kate Upton for one day and obviously there were a bunch of set-ups to make sort of a montage. To make it look like we were on a sabbatical, we frankly would move up 20 feet to another location, but we were really in the same one-mile radius.
ERIN: We shot at a studio in the Valley and then basically wrapped those scenes and set up the cameras in one of the cars to make it look like it was a lot of different places.
SARA: We wanted to have an episode where I could feud with another actress. Originally we wanted Mindy Kaling to do it, but then she was unable to make it happen. I mean, she plays a doctor already on TV so it would’ve been a perfect joke.
ERIN: Thankfully, Kate Upton’s manager called us and said she would love to do the show and would be perfect for it. It donned on us that it’s so much funnier to have Kate play a doctor and herself on the show since it’s more obvious to have Mindy play that role. We’re so glad it worked out because Kate was amazing and really got to show how funny she is.
Erin, were you trying to show how the “crazy” character on the The Bachelor looks behind the scenes?
SARA: We’ve been wanting to do a take on The Bachelor since season 1! I wanted to sign up Erin’s character to be on the show, and while I take her there for the interview, they ask me to be on the show. Erin of course points out that I’m married, but I don’t give a f— cause I just want attention.
ERIN: Well, I’m a huge fan of the The Bachelor. When we were developing this series, it was around the same time that that character Lace was on the The Bachelor. I think what happens on those shows a lot is that when a girl is seemingly normal, I mean, as normal as she can be since we’re all crazy, she is thrown into a situation where she has to fight for a man’s attention and ends up looking crazy. Those kinds of environments bring out the worst in people, and while I don’t think producers totally manipulate it, they do encourage the behavior that makes these women look crazy to come out. I wanted my character to go into it with fairly normal intentions, but then fully become part of the process and get crazy. But this was definitely my favorite episode to shoot and I had a blast.
SARA: It was probably more fun for you to do this episode, Erin, because you got to be the crazy person. My character is always crazy so it’s usually me that gets to have a blast on set.
ERIN: Exactly. My character is usually the straight man to Sara’s ridiculousness. You know, always rolling my eyes at what she does week to week. But it was such a great time to get to be the one making insane decisions and have that real moment, much like the way I described the girls that go on the real Bachelor.
There was an interesting theme between Sara’s Kate Upton story and Erin’s Bachelor plot about having to quit or be fired. Do either of you have interesting stories on that happening in your personal careers?
SARA: I’ve been fired. I was fired off a TV show. I was on a show when I was 24, and it was on UPN. Apparently I was told that I was difficult.
ERIN: Sara, you’re really revealing a lot right now.
SARA: I know! It’s fine. At the time, it was so shocking to me and I was genuinely so confused. I couldn’t fathom what anyone was talking about. But now, looking back on it 10 years later, I can see that I didn’t have a respect for the business. I think we see so many people getting to places frankly more for their professionalism and work ethic than their talent. I don’t think you should underestimate the power of good relationships, working the system, being on time, and being pleasant on set, and [having] a good work ethic. I think I just had way too much entitlement and had things handed to me. Well, I don’t want to say handed because I did audition and earn the role, but I think I mean that I was handed an opportunity and didn’t understand the importance behind that.
ERIN: I worked at Free People like five years ago in Brentwood, [California]. It was not even that long ago when my acting career was in the gutter. I was just thinking that I didn’t want to live a life still going on auditions and not getting work. I wasn’t inspired or anything at the time and it sucked. The truth is, though, that experience working at Free People was very humbling and forced me to reexamine my whole life. I had to throw my hands up in air and just admit that I didn’t know what I was doing, but it opened up my eyes and helped me swallow my pride. That’s when I started to take my career and run it where I wanted. I quit that job after I got my writing job, and now I’m here.