NBC hopes viewers feel good about ‘I Feel Bad’

Book-inspired series includes Amy Poehler among executive producers

Saraya Blue stars in the NBC comedy series “I Feel Bad,” premiering Wednesday, Sept. 19.

Executive producer Amy Poehler maintains “I Feel Bad” won’t always be that way for the main character, but for starters, the title generally sums it up.

Getting a “preview” premiere Wednesday, Sept. 19, before its regular Thursday run begins Oct. 4, the NBC comedy casts Sarayu Blue (“No Tomorrow”) as a woman who seems to handle whatever life throws at her personally or professionally. However, she often errs or needs help, leaving her feeling bad to think she’s imperfect. Paul Adelstein (“Prison Break”) plays her husband, with Rahm Braslaw and Lily Rose Silver as their children. Johnny Pemberton (“Son of Zorn”) also appears.

Developed by fellow executive producer Aseem Batra (“Marlon”) from the book “I Feel Bad: All Day, Every Day, About Everything” by Orli Auslander, the series depicts what Poehler views as “when women are given a tremendous amount of agency. There is just a lot of room for a good story, and this is a lens through which to tell a working-woman story that I haven’t quite seen before … this idea that whenever we’re ‘doing it all,’ there’s about two or three things on that list that we feel like we’re giving 10 percent to.”

Saraya Blue and Paul Adelstein star in the NBC comedy series “I Feel Bad,” premiering Wednesday, Sept 19.

Batra backs that up by adding that Emet (portrayed by Blue) is “complicated, and sometimes she feels bad that she doesn’t feel bad. I think that’s part of being an empowered woman, like, ‘I guess I don’t feel bad that right now I want to take care of myself before my kids.’ So the title is tongue-in-cheek at times, and we are trying to empower her by letting her feel things that on a lot of TV shows, you are told, ‘No. Women don’t get to be that way.’ ”

The same rationale may apply to men in the case of husband David in the show, which Poehler notes “takes a very human and real look at parenting, and the characters that Sarayu and Paul play are a real team. What they share is the knowledge that they know very little about what they’re doing. They’re well aware that they’re in over their heads a lot of time.

“I love watching that messiness, because I think that too often in television, women in television especially are supposed to have all the answers … but we never get to see them. They never have to show their work. There’s a lot of that in (this) show, which is great — big mistakes and big swings. In the pilot, the daughter is doing this really sexualized dance, and everyone’s trying to figure out how to deal with it. It’s really fun to watch everybody kind of swing and miss, which happens in real life.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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