Workin’ Moms: Catherine Reitman and Dani Kind talk Season 5

But changes are afoot for the ladies when Workin’ Moms returns to CBC on Tuesday night.

Like many programs, COVID-19 impacted production on the primetime comedy both creatively and physically. Production on the show, which is usually filmed indoors, was in many instances moved outside. And, the pandemic worked its way into the Carlson’s plans: upon arriving in Cochrane, Alberta, Anne, Lionel and the girls were forced to sequester for safety. Upon things opening up intown, Anne found herself a true stranger in a strange land and unable—so far—to cope with the upheaval.

We spoke to Workin’ Moms’ co-creator, executive producer, writer, star and director Catherine Reitman and actor Dani Kind about the upcoming 10-episode season.

Catherine, did the fact you had to work around the safety issues change anything from a writing standpoint or even a filming standpoint? Were there major changes that you had to make to the fifth season because of the pandemic?
Catherine Reitman: Huge. Yeah, I mean, look, we’re a summer show that goes into tiny, little real apartments. We’ve never been a real studio show. We’ve really been a location-based show. I think why Toronto loves the show, in particular, is because we’re in real buildings in Toronto. We’re in tiny apartments. We’re like an indie movie where we’re we’ve got two camera teams going up and down narrow stairwells with stairs that are about to give way.

We’ve shot in several buildings that have been since torn down because they’re derelict. So we couldn’t really go into buildings that had elevators. We had to move a lot of our interiors to exteriors. We could only shoot 10-hour days. We had to make a lot of concessions as far as we had to shoot in the fall to winter and add exteriors to that, so that was more complicated than we were used to. And then, from a creative standpoint, we were trying to figure out how much we were actually going to deal with COVID-19. The idea of a season of characters in masks and being six feet apart didn’t really interest me. And it’s not even that didn’t interest me. I mean, it’s our life, right?

I wanted the fans of the show to be able to come back and laugh at what we used to deem real problems. And I think that’s what our goal was this season, to put it in the rear view mirror. Deal with it quickly and get out.

Dani, what were your thoughts on having the pandemic impact the Carlson’s and their move out to Cochrane?
Dani Kind: The impact was helpful as an actor because she’s going through so much with the move already, leaving her best friend and that main relationship in her life, leaving the circle of her job, leaving a house that she loves, and then going with Lionel to this new place, but also having the pandemic hit the moment they move in just squashed everything. I found it really helpful, and also I loved that we acknowledged it, that it was happening. We didn’t just gloss over it and pretend like it was fine. It was extremely helpful to play the anxiety of what she was already going through.

Catherine, friendship is a huge part of Workin’ Moms, and to see Kate and Anne distanced by so much is tough. How much of that friendship is going to be tested? Is that the main arc of the season, this fifth season?
CR: It’s certainly one of the arcs. I know what you mean. And watching it in post, it’s funny… I think it’s Quentin Tarantino who said that you write your rough draft and then post is the last draft of the script. What worked, what didn’t work. And what was really telling to me—and to all of us—was I think we were so excited about this Anne bottle, but you do miss her friends with her. You’re so hungry for them to be together again and for Anne to get that comfort and seeing them pulled away from each other was painful. And I think it’s all too real for a lot of people.

For me personally, my friendships have taken such a back seat to my job and to my family, and to my responsibilities. To see Kate and Anne separated—this love story that we’ve been rooting for—to see them pulled away is probably a little too real for a lot of people and I don’t think I even realized that until it aired. And so challenging that is, of course, one of the big obstacles of the season. And then we sort of turn it on its head mid-season in a way that I don’t think anyone’s going to see coming.

As funny as Workin’ Moms can be, it can be very, very serious. Dani, there is an incredible scene in the season premiere where Anne isn’t saying anything, she’s just overcome with emotion. How do you feel about this storyline that has been written for Anne?
DK: I think that’s one of the greatest gifts I get being on this show is that I can be and I can play her grounded and I can play the relationships more than the comedies. I don’t think that that’s mainly my strength in the show per se.

I think playing the real is and also lends itself to Anne. That’s who she is. She’s a straight shooter. But watching a straight shooter fall is where she lives. And every season that I get the scripts and I get to see those moments in all the different ways that have unraveled in the five seasons, that’s the most exciting part for me playing her.

How Anne copes with the move to Cochrane is interesting.
CR: One of our writers was from Cochrane, specifically, and there was a group of women. This writer doesn’t have children, but a lot of her sister’s friends were in what they called the Pretty Committee. We turned it into the Cutie Committee on our show. We sort of showed the Alicia version in the Toronto Mommy and Me group and going to Cochrane and seeing how that’s changed because there are different mom gangs anywhere you are, right? And in this particular mom gang, they had to adjust from the sort of big city, high-pressure career lifestyles to a much slower lifestyle. And the way they chose to deal with it is by sedating themselves.

I know a lot of women my age who are opioid addicts. They’re taking pills to sedate themselves to just let those hours go by a little more quickly. And it’s an international problem truly, but seeing a character like Anne, who is a psychiatrist and is sharp and really smart and really understands the nature of the human mind, to see her slowly accept that and fall into that slippery slope makes us as an audience terrified.

And so watching her not only say goodbye to her friendships and the world we know in Toronto, but also maybe turn off the lights a little bit. That was something that was really fun to explore.

Workin’ Moms airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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10 thoughts on “Workin’ Moms: Catherine Reitman and Dani Kind talk Season 5”

  1. I was excited to find out that Carlson’s were moving to Cochrane, AB but was very disappointed to see that you are portraying a town from who knows where as Cochrane, AB. This is NOT at all the quaint little big western, mountain side town of Cochrane at all. Also we don’t decorate our homes with opossums, wild bores or raccoons ( we actually don’t have those) dress in costume western wear or a lot of rhinestones. There has been many tv series filmed here you should have done your research better or actually came here to film.
    Also I know a lot of moms here and I don’t know any that sedate themselves with meds. I don’t know where you got your information from or how you thought it would be funny to make a mockery of this Alberta town but you are in the wrong town. So disappointing and I was really liking this show.

    1. Talia I totally agree with you. I love this show so much, but was incredibly disappointed in how they represented living out West. I live in Calgary, but obviously know Cochrane and have friends that live there, and felt that the show portrayed our cities as filled with “hicks”. Out here in Alberta, we have regular modern looking houses, make damn good coffee and definitely don’t have to take pills to get by. Is this what you think of us out in Toronto?

    2. Agree! I feel the same – no research was done at all, and to portray the town in such poor light was really disappointing. I was insulted and I don’t even live in Cochrane but live in the Foothills so have been there many times. Also, when did Cochrane get an airport that lands jets? And hey Toronto, Alberta cars don’t have front license plates, but I guess you would actually have to come to Alberta to get these small details right. They say they had a writer on the show from Cochrane…so that makes it even more cringeworthy. Well, I’m gonna go hang out with the small town mom gang now and hit the benzos and go shopping for stuffed animal heads for my home. Hope the local hardware store has some new duck decor too!

    3. Agreed . Did not like the way the people were portrayed or the town which is gorgeous. Definitely not Calgary International Airport either.

  2. I love this show. Shedding light on the modern woman and the obstacles she faces trying to balance work and life, and doing so in Canada! I was so looking forward to tonight’s season premiere.
    My jaw dropped. At first I thought Anne was having a bad dream and she would wake up to find like-minded, empowering women to share ideas with. My heart sank as the credits rolled. Because instead she found redneck, denim-and-rhinestone donning, coffee illiterate, drunk-driving moms to pass her time with. Alberta is beautiful, and I expected more from Reitman and the writers. Sad to see such a promising show take a seat with the liberal views of the East, instead of using the platform to unite the powerful women of this great nation.

  3. I was so excited to see they moved to Cochrane (where I live now) . Then like 12 minutes in, I was so disappointed. Everything about it was so wrong to how we are out here. I don’t know Moms taking drugs to get by. Yes, it is more relaxed out here compared to Toranna. I actually love that about it here. For the most part everyone here is very real and genuine, not hicks. Like anywhere we have our redknecks but its not all like that. They could have portrayed it as the beautiful place it is and still made Anne having her adjustment problems. It DID however make me remember how pretentious Toronto people can be. I am from Hamilton and spent ALOT of time in Toronto so have seen both worlds and boy is this interpretation (although I know it was meant to be funny) is way off and so very wrong….. missed the target for sure. Poking fun at our cookie cutter houses, that’s more realistic with so much new development. Or the fact that we have a few box stores now in town (which has only happened within the last 10 years), that a lot of the kids here wear “George” (Walmart) because again…. box store. Everyone here goes to Walmart…. We don’t go to school in August. A moose encounter would be good as that is quite often happening here. Best email I ever record from my kids school was about how there was a moose on the playground but they reassured us the police were monitoring it and the kids kept inside until the moose moves on…. Police just waited it out and the moose did eventually leave peacefully….

  4. So disappointed in the depiction of Alberta. As a mental health professional and an Albertan I feel that this show did a disservice to both themes. The depiction of Alberta and the quaint, charming town of Cochrane wasn’t remotely accurate. The depiction of mental health issues was superficial and unrealistic. I feel that Canadians are the butt end of stereotypes enough from those outside of our country- it is disheartening to see a show from CBC perpetuating stereotypes. I have loved watching this show but am so disappointed at the ignorance and arrogance exhibited in this episode.

  5. I’m a working mom and generally enjoy the show. However, the first episode of season 5… ouch. I was really disappointed in the depiction of Alberta and the people who live here. There are a lot of hard working moms in the province who don’t day drink, pop pills, dress like cowgirls or start stupid catty fights with strangers. Satire is one thing, but using a mixed bag of lazy stereotypes as a crutch for poor writing is another. Come on Workin’ Moms you can do better! Be the great show that all working moms can enjoy… in the few minutes we actually get to ourselves.

  6. I have lived in both Toronto and Calgary (now live in Victoria) and I was stunned by this over-the-top portrayal of Cochrane mom life. I’m sure I’m not the only Canadian who has lived in many places across the country and can appreciate the beauty of our country from coast to coast. It feels inappropriate to be so unkind at a time when people are going through so much. To Catherine Reitman, et al – you know that people from across Canada, (and not just Toronto) watch your show? I understand that Workin’ Moms is meant to be edgy and satirical, but this went way too far. It didn’t even seem like it was filmed in Cochrane, as the major airport is in Calgary and the mountains are definitely not that close. Very disappointing. I will watch one more to see if you can save this season. It’s not looking good though.

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