Published On: Mon, Oct 15th, 2018

TV veterans join packed house for sitcom The Kids Are Alright

LOS ANGELES—Michael Cudlitz and Mary McCormack act a lot like the longtime married couple they play in the flashback series The Kids Are Alright, launching Tuesday.

Set in the 1970s, the new ABC comedy (also airing in Canada on CTV) follows a traditional Irish-Catholic family as they deal with the big and small changes going on in the world. The stories unfold in a home with one bathroom that’s shared by 10 people. The series was inspired by the childhood of creator/executive producer Tim Doyle.

A scene from the comedy series The Kids Are Alright, starring Mary McCormack, standing centre, and Michael Cudlitz, seated right, premiering on Oct. 16.
A scene from the comedy series The Kids Are Alright, starring Mary McCormack, standing centre, and Michael Cudlitz, seated right, premiering on Oct. 16.  (Tony Rivetti / AP)

“I grew up in a family of eight boys, no girls,” Doyle says. “And, yeah, some of the material, some of the inspiration, some of the moments have been kind of divvied up to different characters and this and that. But, the character of Timmy, who is a bit of a jackass who’s got this wonderful verve for putting himself in front of the audience, that’s pretty much me.”

One of the topics of conversation between McCormack and Cudlitz is because they have done so much dramatic work, they doubt they were at the top of anyone’s list when it came to performers to hire for a TV comedy. Among McCormack’s credits are four seasons on The West Wing and as the star of In Plain Sight. The most recent credit on a long resume of dramatic roles for Cudlitz is playing Abraham on AMC’s The Walking Dead.

McCormack suggests their deep backgrounds in drama help with the comedy.

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“I try to approach all the work with honesty,” McCormack says. “Moms move a certain way in this time period. They don’t necessarily make time to kiss their husbands because moms are very busy. If the characters were softer, people would call us on it and say that was not the way they were raised.

“It was a time when people felt love but didn’t talk about feeling loved.”

Cudlitz likes that he’s being allowed to play the father as tougher and stronger because that gives him a chance to make the performance feel more truthful.

Landing a role like this was important to Cudlitz because he was coming to it after being on a massively popular series. And he went out in style, as his final scenes on The Walking Dead were so brutal that Cudlitz only has watched the episode once.

He wanted to land a good role to build on his Walking success, but he wasn’t worried about whether he would ever find a part as good.

“I was looking, over the past two years, for something where I didn’t have to kill anything or be killed. I’ve done enough of that for a little while. Doesn’t mean I won’t go back to it. When I left the show, people said that I would be off to do bigger and better things,” Cudlitz says. “I would tell them it probably wouldn’t be any bigger.

“There aren’t a lot of shows like The Walking Dead that are such a phenomenon they have an impact around the world. It is always about finding good work and finding what is next. When I did Southland, it was the most creative things I had ever been a part of and then I did Walking Dead and now I am doing this.

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“And this is some of the stuff that I did when I first started. I wanted to go to work and laugh. And I think the viewing public is ready to laugh at a lot of things. And I couldn’t be happier.”

Unlike actors who tend to want to put their past work behind them to focus on the future, Cudlitz is doing just the opposite. He doesn’t mind talking about his previous series because if only a portion of the millions of fans of Walking Dead take a look at The Kids Are Alright, the new ABC comedy will be a hit.

If the show earns enough ratings to go on, McCormack and Cudlitz will continue to work with the large group of young actors who play their children. Asked if they are given parental respect by the cast, both McCormack and Cudlitz cautiously say they are. They expect to bond even closer with the cast members with each episode.

The series also stars Sam Straley, Caleb Foote, Sawyer Barth, Christopher Paul Richards, Jack Gore, Andy Walken and Santino Barnard.

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TV veterans join packed house for sitcom The Kids Are Alright