How Bravo superfans Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider tapped an obsession for their own intoxicating pop culture guilty pleasure
It’s early August, and the Olympics are in full swing, but the echoes of cheering and gasping in Casey Wilson’s L.A. home aren’t for Michael Phelps’ wins (they’re not even for his glistening abs). No, the Happy Endings alum and her longtime friend and collaborator Danielle Schneider are curled up on the couch, glued to a rerun of The Real Housewives of New York City. There’s no new installment of the show tonight, so the duo decided to take a trip down memory lane with the very first episode. “This is our sport,” Schneider says of the Bravo reality series. “Reunions are our Super Bowl,” adds Wilson.
Between bites of salad and sips of Whispering Angel rosé, the comedians tap out thoughts on their iPhones. They squeal as they watch a slobbery kiss between former Housewife Alex McCord and her husband, Simon. “I’d rather watch my parents have sex!” says Wilson (regardless, she rewinds and rewatches it for good measure). Afterward, the two compare notes. Schneider and Wilson are prepping to tape their cult-hit podcast, Bitch Sesh: A Real Housewives Breakdown, which they record weekly at Wilson’s kitchen table (lovingly dubbed “the nook”). Today’s agenda: analyzing the episode scene by scene and drinking shots of Modern Alkeme, a Housewife-created “clearing tonic.” The result? “I might throw up,” says Schneider. She laughs so hard she hits her face on her mic.
The Housewives connoisseurs were Bravo-ites long before they became wives and mothers themselves (Wilson, 35, has a 15-month-old son with husband and Happy Endings creator David Caspe; Schneider, 41, has a 3-year-old daughter with husband Matt Besser, a cofounder of the Upright Citizens Brigade). In 2011, they held dramatic readings of Housewives episodes at UCB, and in 2014 came the Hotwives series, the Hulu spoof co-created by Schneider, featuring both women. “As I’m looking at the canon, I’m sort of embarrassed how much we’ve done involving Real Housewives,” says Wilson. But they’ve found a following: A few weeks after Bitch Sesh debuted in December, advertisers started rolling in, and they’ve performed several sold-out live tapings (“I got to realize my dream of singing a medley of Bravo theme songs,” says Wilson). “At the end of the day, this is a comedy show,” Schneider says. Adds Wilson: “We’ve got a lot to say.” Grab some Ramona Singer pinot grigio and listen in.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you two meet?
CASEY WILSON: The first time I laid eyes on Danielle, she was furiously making out with her nowhusband, Matt Besser. I was titillated.
DANIELLE SCHNEIDER: It’s not the first time someone has said that’s how they met me.
WILSON: I knew Matt before I knew Danielle. He was very supportive of June [Diane Raphael, Wilson’s writing partner] and me. He helped get our UCB show into the Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival.
SCHNEIDER: Just as your husband has helped me. He gave me my first job writing in TV on Marry Me.
WILSON: That’s why we’re friends. I desperately need her husband.
SCHNEIDER: And I desperately need hers. Otherwise we have nothing in common.
WILSON: It’s a nice friendship.
How did Bitch Sesh come about?
SCHNEIDER: Casey called me one day and said, “I think we should do a podcast about The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Do you want to do this?” The series was about to start. I don’t even think I let her finish the sentence. I was like, “Yes! Should I come over now?”
WILSON: I was like, not everyone needs to have a podcast — I’ll have one, too.
Why do you think your dynamic works so well?
WILSON: At the end of the day we’re, like, hard drinkers — everyone else falls away, but we’re still at the bar.
SCHNEIDER: A text chain would go around our friends about Housewives, and maybe someone would have a quip, but Casey and I were still going.
WILSON: They were like, “Guys, it’s Christmas!” Also, with Danielle, I’m not fearful about something [not] being funny. I know Danielle will take care of it.
SCHNEIDER: I feel the same way about you.
How did you get into the Housewives franchise anyway?
WILSON: Maybe six months after my mom passed away [in 2005], Orange County debuted, and I remember lying on the couch and getting mindlessly into that.
SCHNEIDER: I got really involved when I was having trouble conceiving. It was a dark time, and I was drawn to this sparkling wish fulfillment, with crazy people yelling at each other. It’s escape. I’m not yelling at my friends like that — I never have, never will.
WILSON: I have, and I will. [Laughs]
What do you think it is about Housewives that resonates?
SCHNEIDER: It’s this common language. I was sitting next to a woman on a flight, and we didn’t speak at all — in fact, I was like, “She’s on my armrest. Bitch.” The last half hour, I noticed we were both watching Housewives. We couldn’t stop talking the rest of the trip.
WILSON: I’m fascinated by female dynamics, and this one is on a garish scale. A moment is built out of someone waiting for another person! That’s amazing drama.
SCHNEIDER: We come from a place of love — we love these shows and these women.
WILSON:It’s a perfect Housewives moment because we’re saying we love them to their faces, but we’re talking about them behind their backs.
NEXT: The women talk about recording in the nook
How do you think Housewives relates to the role of women in Hollywood?
WILSON: When we did the UCB show, everyone asked, “Why the Housewives?” And we said, “Because there are no greater roles for women.” They’re the Medea of our time!
SCHNEIDER: Journalists said they had never seen so many funny women as leads when we did Hotwives — we had a cast of seven very funny women. That doesn’t happen.
WILSON: The Housewives pass the Bechdel test.
Do your husbands ever watch with you?
WILSON: David does, but he hates it.
SCHNEIDER: Matt says, “I can’t go to sleep with these women screaming!” I’m like, why can’t you tune it out? I find it relaxing, like I’m in my mama’s arms.
Have you been surprised by the podcast’s success?
WILSON: Danielle and I would have been happy just doing this for ourselves. In this business we’re all trying to control our career, and laughably, there’s zero control. It’s gotten a great response, more so than things I’ve worked tirelessly on. My best friend texted me and said, “You’re probably going to disagree, but this is my favorite thing you’ve ever performed in.”
With Bitch Sesh, you’re entirely yourselves, not playing a character. How does that feel?
WILSON: Before I had a baby, I had a lot less confidence. I would have never done something like this — I was scared people would think I was mean. But after I had my son, I thought, “Who cares?” Danielle and I are inherently kind people, but we also have acid tongues. Our intentions are good.
SCHNEIDER: This is the most comfortable I’ve been because I’m speaking my words in my voice, and people seem to like that.
How does auditioning and writing your own projects fit in here?
WILSON: We haven’t given up our careers yet. [Laughs]
SCHNEIDER: We’re a part of a crew of people that do a bunch of things, so to have a lot going on feels like the norm. If it ever became too much, we might go down [in episodes] for a while.
WILSON: We’re seeing what sticks. June and I just sold a show to Hulu called Unhinged about an angry woman, who I’m going to be playing. We’re also working on a movie, and I’m in [Amazon’s upcoming dark comedy] One Mississippi.
SCHNEIDER: I just finished writing on Playing House, and my writing partner Dannah [Phirman] and I are shopping around a female ensemble show to the networks.
You record every episode from the nook, which seems so magical!
SCHNEIDER: People have asked for pictures, but we want it to be in your mind.
WILSON: I’m afraid people are going to be like, “That’s the nook?”
Readers are seeing it now! Do you have any other recording rituals?
WILSON: We try not to go past an hour — I think all comedy is better left wanting more. Plus, by the time we’ve gotten to an hour, people have had enough of us, I’m sure. And we try to end on a joke.
Any chance of expanding the podcast’s subject matter?
WILSON: We look forward to a day when it can broaden out culturally. I love how I say that as if we’d be discussing Hillary Rodham…
SCHNEIDER: No, we mean, like, the Kardashians.
For more on Bitch Sesh, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, currently on stands, or buy it online now. Check back on EW.com for more podcast scoop – and don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.
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