‘The West Wing’ alum plays maternal in nostalgic new ABC sitcom
Q: What do you say to those who might liken your new 1970s-set family comedy “The Kids Are Alright” to “The Wonder Years”?
A: I loved “The Wonder Years.” When it’s a similar time period, of course, there’s crossover. I think one of the things I love most about this project is how personal it is. It’s his (series creator and executive producer Tim Doyle) story, and personal writing is the best writing.
Q: What do you think about the family’s background fueling much of the show’s humor?
A: Irish Catholic households are usually pretty funny. I think comedy is valued (there). I know in my house, if you took the attention at the dinner table and you tried to tell a story and it was meant to be funny and wasn’t funny, you paid a price. You really thought twice about taking the mic, because you were going to get heckled hard if it did not land.
They’re usually hectic, full houses and (there are) tight budgets, and you laugh about things that are painful. In Irish Catholic houses, we don’t do a lot of talking about feelings. There’s not a lot of navel-gazing. I felt love, but we didn’t do a lot of talking about love.
Q: How is it to work with the youngsters playing your sons?
A: They’re all really good. It’s a sweet group. It’s a boring answer, but they’re a nice group of kids.
Q: What’s your take on having a big family yourself?
A: I have three daughters, 13, 11, and 6. And I would like to have more, but I’m as old as the hills, so I think that’s a wrap on me.
All my aunts have 12 and 10 and 8 and 5 (children). And they all grew up around us, so I was always in a car full of cousins, and it felt like an enormous family. I think I have 50 first cousins. But my mom was like, “Nope. Not having that.”
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.