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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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Mental health remains top of mind in Season 2 of Ghost BFF

When we last saw Ghost BFF‘s Amy (Vanessa Matsui), things weren’t going well. She and Mitchell (Dan Beirne) had broken up, and she’d been haunted—literally—by Tara (Kaniehtiio Horn), Amy’s best friend who had committed suicide.

Season 2 is a struggle too.

Available on Shaftesbury’s KindaTV now, Ghost BFF reunites the two best friends—one living, one dead—for more hijinks. Created and written by Matsui, she admits to being caught off-guard by a second season renewal.

“Never did I think a second season was going to happen,” she says with a laugh. “I had to write it really fast, much faster than I did with the first season. I learned that’s a real rookie move. You should have multiple seasons in mind in case that green light keeps going.” Like the debut season, Ghost BFF digs more deeply into Amy’s struggles as she addresses unemployment, single life, unexpected challenges, and the continued grief of missing her friend.

Often, a web series doesn’t allow for a ton of character growth outside of the main player. Not so with Ghost BFF. Horn’s Tara evolves, in search of closure with her mother (Angela Asher), to help Amy heal and to gain a better understanding of her own narrative of what happened the day she died.

“I have a hard time not finding layers in the characters that I portray,” Horn says. “It’s not fun to play someone who is one-note. This is a comedy about suicide and I didn’t want the humour to come at the expense of such an intense, serious subject.” Eight PSAs accompany the new episodes, offering advice on mindfulness, depression, anxiety, boundaries and self-care. With COVID-19 continuing to wreak havoc with our lives—and many Canadians staying indoors—mental health continues to be important and talking about it even more so.

“In Season 1, Amy would use band-aid solutions to deal with her mental health,” Matsui says. “In Season 2, she isn’t wearing band-aids. She is being forced to deal with her real self, which is I think what a lot of people have had to do in this very isolating time.”

“Normalizing talking about mental health is really important,” Horn says. “I used to joke about having a glass of wine in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other. But that was my coping mechanism. I was very lost for a long time. But the pandemic has forced me to face myself. And, with things like Ghost BFF, I’ve started to talk about my mental health.”

Season 2 of Ghost BFF is available on KindaTV now.

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Workin’ Moms’ Dani Kind previews Anne’s Season 4 journey

When we last left Workin’ Moms, Kate (Catherine Reitman) was on the cusp of making a major decision. Would she choose to forgive Nathan (Philip Sternberg) for his extra-marital transgressions in favour of keeping her family together, or would she choose a relationship with Mike (Victor Webster)?

We find out what Kate’s decision is within moments of Season 4’s return on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on CBC. And, suffice it to say, her pick makes waves. But Kate isn’t the only one who has made dramatic choices. In Tuesday’s return, “Charade,” we catch up with Anne (Dani Kind), who is doubling down on her parenting skills from Season 3, which saw her being overprotective of her daughter, Alice (Sadie Munroe), much to the chagrin of Anne’s husband, Lionel (Ryan Belleville).

We caught up with Dani Kind ahead of Workin’ Moms’ return to get her take on Season 4 and Anne’s parenting skills.

Congratulations on Season 4. When you signed on for the first season, did you ever think that there’d be a fourth?
Dani Kind: No. Just looking at old pictures of how young my kids were when the show started, and I was like, ‘Where the hell did the last few years go?’ It’s so insane. It’s amazing that anything in this industry ever gets made because it’s all so hard to make anything. But on top of it, I was thinking about us all being moms of way younger kids and I was just like, ‘How the fuck did we even show up in the morning?’

Last season Anne was very protective of Alice, jumping out of the bushes, taking her phone, etc. What was it like playing that character in the last season? Anne has evolved and we’re seeing a side of her that maybe makes some people feel a little bit uncomfortable.
DK: Totally, totally. And I don’t think she would generally be an over-protective helicopter parent, but I think because of what she was dealing with, post going through that situation with Brad, and I think that she went a little manic. The pendulum swung the other way to fiercely, fiercely protect her daughter because she was processing all of those feelings. So psychologically I was like, ‘Yes, absolutely.’ But then playing it was just the greatest thing in the world and Sadie Munroe, who plays Alice is, her and Ryan are … I couldn’t have ever asked for a better TV family then than those two. And they’re the easiest people on the planet to act with. And so when Catherine was like, ‘OK, and so now you’re going to do this fighting scene and teach her how to punch people on the dick.’ Sadie and I were both … I say it all the time, but it is like summer camp. Every time we get to do stuff like that and Ryan and Sadie are the greatest people to act with.

In Tuesday’s return, Anne is attempting to shop a book around about parenting. She still has this very strict regimen with Alice. As a parent, how do you feel about the way that Anne is parenting? Can you relate to any of this?
DK: No, I mean I don’t parent that way. I can definitely sympathize with what she’s going through because my kids aren’t teenagers yet. I’ve seen my sister go through it and I know what kind of teenager I was. And as a parent, I can sympathize with any parents just being like, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m trying my best.’ And I think that’s all Anne’s doing. She’s not maybe doing the best thing, but she’s trying her absolute best and she’s Anne so she goes 110 per cent at everything.

You already mentioned Sadie. What’s it been like working with her over the years? I mean you literally have been watching her grow up in front of your eyes over these past four seasons.
DK: I feel really lucky to work with her because of the actress she is. But also their real-life family, her parents are so incredible and she has two brothers and one of her brothers is also an actor and the way her family operates and the way that they’ve embraced me in their life and they let me spend time with her outside of set before we choose, we have lunch and stuff and they’ve just been really open arms about the whole experience.

I’m just in awe of her parents coming to set every day and the way that they treat her and it really reflects for what kind of actress she’s becoming. Watching her grow up on set has been a real honour to watch and I’m trying to watch carefully so that I can steal things to parent my boys. And that face she has is so innocent. Wait until you see her this season. She needs her own show. I’ve said it a hundred times, but she should just have her own show.

What’s going on with Anne’s journey this season? What can you say?
DK: What can I say? I mean, she has a new look this season. I wish I could talk more about where the look comes from or why she’s doing it, but she’s on her own journey with this book and she’s trying to develop this book and she has this great storyline. But then I think the storyline of her and Kate always trumps all of it. So I don’t know how much more I can say about that, but there are some struggles again this season that they have to work through together. Her and Kate.

Workin’ Moms airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on CBC.

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Workin’ Moms: Tennille Read reflects on being the new kid (and mom) on the block

In Season 1 of Workin’ Moms, viewers were immediately plunged into the lives of four women juggling motherhood with jobs and responsibilities. What is was like getting and being pregnant was discussed, but not a focal point of the show. It was about life after baby (or babies) had arrived.

That’s changed in Season 3 with the arrival of Bianca. Played by Tennille Read, we’re getting a crash-course in the emotions and doubts that go along with deciding to get pregnant. And, of course, we’re shown the support system Frankie (Juno Rinaldi) can supply.

“It’s a great take on motherhood and starting from the very beginning,” Read says during a recent phone chat. “The fears, the anxiety, the uncertainties, especially showing it through the eyes of a single woman. Bianca is flying solo; she isn’t partnered with anyone and she’s deciding to start a family. I think that is unique to the show and hasn’t really been explored before.” Read teases viewers will see a new side to Frankie as well, because she’s in a place of more stability and can help. (Though, it must be said, Juniper did throw a curve ball at Frankie last week.)

Read, a graduate of the George Brown Theatre School, never expected a lone Season 2 appearance would be expanded. When it was hinted Bianca might become a recurring character, she assumed that meant two more episodes. Instead, it became eight, and the opportunity not just to show growth for Frankie, but all of the main characters.

“The ‘typical sitcom’ highlights those characteristics in the character that makes them unique but doesn’t necessarily develop them and allow them to grow and become something bigger and better,” Read says. “Workin’ Moms does allow for the characters to grow.” She’s right. We’ve seen that for everyone, from Anne (Dani Kind) being over-protective of Alice (Sadie Munroe) to Kate’s (Catherine Reitman) getting into bed figuratively with a men’s group and literally with Nathan (Philip Sternberg).

And though she was a new face to the cast—Read worked with many of the crew on prior projects—she felt welcome right from the start.

“I met Dani Kind in the makeup trailer and we had a 10- to 15-minute conversation because she’s so open and lovely,” Read says. “She wanted to know more about me because we haven’t had that interaction before. It made for an easier transition for me to go from being the new kid on the block to having more investment in the show.”

Workin’ Moms airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Head shot image courtesy of Dane Clark. Workin’ Moms image courtesy of CBC.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Workin’ Moms: Catherine Reitman, Dani Kind and Juno Rinaldi talk Season 3

When we last left the Workin’ Moms, things had gone badly, especially for Kate (Catherine Reitman). She discovered that her husband, Nathan (Philip Sternberg), was having an affair with Mean Nanny (Jess Salguiero). And, to add to the emotional moment, Kate discovered she was pregnant.

Viewers were left wondering what Kate’s next steps were. Would she divorce Nathan? What about the pregnancy? Kate wasn’t the only one facing challenges. Anne (Dani Kind) was headed for a showdown with he ex-husband Brad (Christopher Redman), and Frankie (Juno Rinaldi) was juggling new relationships.

Workin’ Moms returns on a new night this Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBC with two back-to-back episodes chock full of the tears and laughter we’ve come to expect from Reitman’s creation. And with folks like John Ralston, Sean Cullen and Emma Hunter on board, we had to find out more. We spoke to Reitman, Kind and Rinaldi at CBC’s recent media day.

There is a time jump when Workin’ Moms returns. Kate is about to give birth. At what point in the creative process did you know you were going to do that?
Catherine Reitman: We went back and forth on this in the writers’ room a ton. And ultimately we always go back to, ‘What’s the most compelling way to watch this character?’ Is it more interesting if she doesn’t have another child, does the child actually drag us back to what we’ve already seen her do?

And then she gets involved with someone else.
CR: She is juggling a little more than usual. Dani, Juno, and I all in real life have two kids, and I think there is something to do when you meet someone with just one child you’re like, ‘Ugh, I totally understand, but just wait.’ Because when you double down on kids there is just a different level of storm, you’ve become so not a priority in your own life. Giving Kate this baby felt like a way of just filling her plate to make her the least important protagonist in her own story.

It just parallels so many working mother’s lives, I think. As far as her season, I think Kate is having an identity crisis once again. Kind of like Season 1. Except for this time she now has to reinvent herself with infidelity kind of screaming at her the entire time. We hear so often about the women keeping the house and the kids. And there’s something just really refreshing, and you really root for someone who moves out. Someone who hits the pavement and starts her own business the way Kate does and so many women I know out there currently doing it. I just think it’s incredibly brave and it’s the kind of story I wanted to get behind.

How did you land John Ralston in a guest role?
CR: I tricked him. He thought it was Murdoch. He showed up, and he was like, ‘I don’t understand, where’s the gentleman with the beautiful lashes?’ And I said, ‘You’re fine, just hold this baby and get in a wheelchair and …

He is a recurring character? 
CR: He is a recurring character. Look, our characters make flawed decisions all the time and having them sort of deal with those repercussions at this magnitude is really, it’s just really fun. It’s a fun ride for Kate. And John made it that way. I think we auditioned every guy in the country for that role. Similar to Anne and Frankie, it was, ‘How do we find someone who can make this character likable? Not a straight up cartoon villain.’ And he brings so much heart, and he’s having so much fun. He’s constantly laughing at what he’s saying. He’s delighted with himself. And it makes him so easy to watch and get on board with.

Had you considered having Kate and Nathan get back together again?
CR: Of course, and that’s not off the table.

Dani, things look pretty tough for Anne right now. The court case being challenged, and the cake being brought in as evidence. What can you say about what’s going on with Anne and Lionel? And there’s something going on with her daughter this season as well, right?
Dani Kind: She clearly hasn’t dealt with things between her and Brad from last season, from their marriage. I think she’s stuffed them away and hasn’t dealt with them. She gets a new job this season helping other people who’ve gone through similar traumas, which is very interesting. It creates a lot of conflict for her. She also becomes extremely possessive of Alice and almost gets into like a manic state of wanting to protect her family and protect herself, I think, from feeling all the things that she hasn’t dealt with.

What about Frankie? I mean things are going great, she’s got these ads where she’s lying on top of money. She’s got an old girlfriend coming back into her life asking for tuition. So what’s going on with her this season that you can say?
Juno Rinaldi: I feel like Frankie is feeling really great about where she’s at. Things have taken a turn for her, she finally feels like she’s got her groove and it’s, she’s able to help Giselle with some financial stuff, she’s sort of in the driver’s seat now. But with Frankie, you never really know where we’re going to go with her, how it’s going to shake down. But it’s really nice to see her sort of feeling really good about things and moving forward.

Workin Moms airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

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