With Call Your Mother, Kyra Sedgwick is starting the year off with laughs
Kyra Sedgwick previews her new ABC comedy and explains how it explores the bonds of family.
Call Your Mother is aiming to bring some much-needed laughter to 2021.
"I feel like it couldn't be more crucial right now to laugh, especially to laugh at ourselves [and] at the complexities of family," Kyra Sedgwick tells EW. Throughout the pandemic, many people worldwide have been staying indoors and spending more time with their immediate families, and Call Your Mother examines the complexities of family.
The new ABC sitcom follows an empty nest mother, Jean Raines (Sedgwick), who decides to fly to L.A. from Iowa to check on her son Freddie (Joey Bragg) after not hearing from him for four days. What starts as a spur-of-the-moment trip turns into Jean having to navigate a new stage in her life in unknown surroundings. "[Jean's] a fish-out-of-water in Los Angeles, and she's suddenly confronted with all of LA's eccentricities, including an obsession with youth and beauty," Sedgwick explains.
Jean finds that both of her children have much more going on than she could have imagined. Freddie is in a serious relationship she did not know about, while her daughter Jackie (Rachel Sennott) is in a relationship with someone much older. Call Your Mother will explore what they are dealing with in their relationships and how much family helps or hinders growth.
At the center of Call Your Mother is Jean's figuring out who she is after being a mother for such a long time. "Suddenly [your kids] move out, and you have to figure out who you are without them, but still have a relationship with them," Sedgwick explains. "Having them myself because you constantly have to remind yourself they're not children. It's a hard thing to unlearn."
Exploring new stages of life is something the characters have in common. Jean is figuring out what's next for her, her kids are trying to navigate their lives as adults, and her new landlord (and love interest) Danny (Patrick Brammall) is in the midst of a new stage of his life as well. "Life is sort of trying to how to do things at every stage in your life," Sedgwick explains, and all of the characters show that reinvention is often necessary at any age.
Part of Call Your Mother's magic is Jean's dynamic with her kids, played by Bragg and Sennott. Sedgwick gushes about working with the actors and shares how she bonded with Rachel, who plays her daughter Jackie, while on set. "I definitely did some poking around to find out what the relationships were like with their parents because it's interesting and helps to build a history," shares Sedgwick. "It was a really east lift because I really fell in love with those kids."
As a result of the pandemic, Call Your Mother will be profoundly exploring the interpersonal stories between the six characters. Without going on location or having many guest stars, viewers will spend lots of time with Jean, her kids, and the few individuals in their lives. "We really had to do a deep dive, and that has been such a gift because it really makes the episodes rich, full, and very satisfying," she shares.
There's a lot for viewers to relate to with Call Your Mother, including its title. Remembering you should give your mother a call or a mother reminding you that you should call more often. "Most of us are part of a family, even if it's a chosen family, and the complexities of those relationships will cross over for everybody," she says.
Call Your Mother aims to deliver both laughs and powerful messages, something Sedgwick compares to the Norman Lear comedies of the '70s. Shows like All In The Family, Good Times, and One Day At A Time. "The great thing about sitcoms is that you can present a problem, and then at the end of the episode, things are wrapped up," Sedgwick says, who is very happy for easy solutions at the moment. Mixing real issues people face and comedy works very well for the sitcom format. Within 30 minutes, a real problem can be explored, made fun of, and dealt with before it's tied up in a bow by the end of the episode. "That's what a sitcom is, and wouldn't it be great if life were like that," Sedgwick quips. The actress loved comedies like Norman Lear's she watched growing up, where serious issues and good messaging are incorporated into the comedy.
Jean's grief after losing her husband is a heavy topic Call Your Mother will explore. Flying from Iowa to Los Angeles after not hearing from her son for four days seems extreme, but Jean is a woman whose husband suddenly died, leaving her with two kids. "When you've had a catastrophic thing happens in a family, the effect of it that reverberate for the rest of your life," she explains. Viewers will laugh as Jean hops on a plane to check on her son, but the reason for her choice stems from trauma, and this is one of the ways it will appear on the series.
Kyra Sedgwick has wanted to do comedy for a long time. After The Closer, she wanted to try comedy, but she didn't know it would be a sitcom. What brought the actress to Call Your Mother is Kari Lizer's writing. The two are friends who tried to work together in the past, and the new comedy allowed them to finally collaborate. "She's a very funny lade who really wants to tell interesting stories about women, specifically women our age," Sedgwick explains. Now working on a sitcom, Sedgwick is enjoying flexing new muscles. Admiring the artform, the Call Your Mother star is blown away by the expertise level and admits it's hard to be funny. "I wouldn't say drama is easy, but comedy's really hard and also a blast," she shares.
Call Your Mother premieres Wednesday January 13 on ABC at 9:30pm ET.