What I hope for Catherine Reitman in 2018 is that she have continued success. And a much-deserved nap.
Reitman has plenty on her plate as creator, executive producer, writer, star and showrunner of Workin’ Moms, returning Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on CBC. Throw in the fact she’s really a workin’ mom of two kids, wife to fellow Moms executive producer/actor Philip Sternberg, and directing three episodes this season? She’s got a lot going on. And yet she makes it seem effortless, taking 30 minutes out of production on an episode of the show to sit down at talk shop with me.
What’s in store for Kate (Reitman) and Nathan Foster (Sternberg) now that she’s back at Gaze? Where are Anne (Dani Kind) and Lionel Carlson (Ryan Belleville) headed now that they’ve decided not to have any more kids? How is Frankie Coyne (Juno Rinaldi) doing in rehab? And does Jenny Matthews (Jessalyn Wanlim) have regrets about blowing up her marriage to Ian (Dennis Andres)?
Reitman gave us the scoop on what’s to come in Season 2.
Was it easier to work on Season 2 because there was a shorthand developed by everyone in Season 1 and the actors now know their characters?
Catherine Reitman: In some ways, it’s easier and in others, it’s harder. The easier is that, yeah, we’ve established these characters, where they live and where they work and what the core of their character is. I’ve hired such talented actors that they all understand that, and we’ve established a tone that the show is a comedy and that it’s really, really subtle and that there is a lot of drama. Lucky for me, people have watched it and people get it and have responded in, largely, a positive way. In that way, everyone understands the essence of it. That job is done.
A lot of people who really get wine will say, ‘As soon as you actually start understanding wine you realize you know nothing about wine.’ I feel that way about showrunning. In Season 1 I came in, hot on it and super-confident. Now that I actually understand the dynamic and the responsibilities of the title I feel much more comfortable in it but I also realize that I have so much to learn. My eyes are open and I’m hoping to grow more and I feel myself growing with the show.
What have you learned about yourself as a showrunner?
I’m learning that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. I like to do things fast and trust my gut and not overthink things and make decisions. Luckily, I’m married to a man who is really methodical and understands the details. Just from being with him I’ve learned a ton about just slowing down and taking more things into consideration. It is a marathon. Right when you think the writer’s room is done and your job is done, production begins. And halfway through production, you think you pretty much have everything but the second half of production has an entirely different energy. And then when you wrap that and the crew goes away you think that’s it. No, it’s time to do post-production. And post-production carries through until the writer’s room begins again. And that’s not even taking into account that I’m a mother of two and a wife to a man who I work with. I’m also the child of two complicated, artistic, powerful people. I’m constantly checking in and saying, ‘OK, where do I put my energy now?’
It’s been very interesting to see some of the comic actors in your cast in more serious scenes. I know Ryan Belleville as being a goofball in past projects he’s been in. Seeing him play Lionel so sensitively has been great. I’ve really connected with him.
We’ve got both sides of that line. We’ve got someone like Ryan who is so talented comedically—and I’ve had the complete and utter joy of improvising with him a few times—but the other side of it, and he talks about it in his stand-up, is that he’s a working father with a working mother-wife. He actually relates to this content quite deeply and the idea that no one has asked him to play on that side of the fence astounds me because he’s so good and so relatable. The other side is that I’ve got a bunch of dramatic actors who really have pretty tremendous comedic timing. Dani Kind hasn’t done a ton of comedy prior to this and she is never going for the joke in an obnoxious, broad way. She always plays the character real and in any scene, in any take, I look at her and say, ‘Yeah, she gets it.’ And it’s always funny to me.
Where do we find Anne and Lionel when Season 2 begins?
In Season 1 we just watched, particularly her, struggle and struggle. She was sick, she was confused about her connection with her daughter, she was confused about her own pregnancy and the pressures that come with being this perfect wife and perfect mother. Society encourages us to do it all and have it all. The idea of a mother of two having an abortion … is that woman allowed to have joy? Is that woman allowed to laugh and have a fulfilling life? That’s really interesting to me. The dynamic of where Anne and Lionel are now was so fascinating to me because I wanted to see them have some fun.
We had to, in Season 1, set up the work and home life of all of these characters, which is a lot to do in 22 minutes every week. So, to now get deeper into those relationships and to show that they’re not always so perfect … and can our ambitions grow? Can we want more? Exploring the Kate and Anne friendship is something that we do a lot this season and what we demand of our friendship when we’re wives and mothers is very different from when we’re in our twenties.
What else can you say about Season 2?
The point of view of one of the core characters has shifted. There are some big surprises early in the season to which I think the audience will need a second to adjust to.
I’m not sure what you’re alluding to, but I was shocked last season by Jenny’s decision to blow up her marriage.
The truth is, 50 per cent of marriages don’t work out, especially once you factor in the responsibilities of a working mother. To watch one woman have an incredible identity crisis like Jenny does. We’re with her, we’re with her. Are we with her? Are we with her? Why are we with her?! And then, to all of a sudden shift and root for him was something really fun to do.
Workin’ Moms airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on CBC.
Images courtesy of CBC.