Many of us may wonder what our pets do when we’re gone.
Do they scheme and plot? … Or grumble and grouse? … Or just hit the hyper-relaxation mode?
Now a new series, “Housebroken” (shown here) has the answer: Pets conduct their own group-therapy sessions.
Yes, the show (9 p.m. Mondays on Fox, starting May 31) is a cartoon. “There’s just so much freedom in animation,” said actress-turned-producer Clea DuVall. Cats can talk, turtles can dash; she can envision big stunts that “would be half of your budget (without) animation.”
And over the past year, there’s been something more: Animated characters don’t need social-distancing.
This season, COVID delayed many shows by 2-6 months or longer. The exceptions were the cartoons: “The Simpsons” and cohorts arrived on schedule … some new, animated shows followed… and for the first time, there’s even a Monday cartoon incursion.
The voice work gave actors a break from the doldrums. “It was great to do something during COVID,” said Lisa Kudrow, who stars as Honey (at the center of this picture), the group leader. The only bad part, she said, was having to work individually: “It’s hard for me not to see the person that I’m talking to.”
“Housebroken” started with DuVall, whose career has sprawled in all directions. She’s a busy actress – she reportedly had to skip “Handmaid’s Tale” this year, because she didn’t have time for Canada’s two-week quarantine period – who also wrote and directed the Christmas movie “Happiest Season.” And she was acting in “Veep” when she faced a personal crisis.
“I have a cat who I have a very complicated relationship with, who just seems permanently dissatisfied.” DuVall said. She wished they could go to a counselor together, then thought “that would be such a great idea for a show – getting into what animals’ interior lives are really like.”
She took the idea to two “Veep” writer/producers: Jennifer Crittenden has three dogs; Gabrielle Allan has two, one of whom is not universally popular. “He’s the worst,” Crittenden said flatly.
As the show took form, the casting brought surprises. DuVall, a cat person, voices a corgi dog.
Others were also surprised. Just ask Will Forte, who plays the slow-moving Shel. “I saw myself as a stallion,” he joked. But “sadly … I am more of a tortoise.”
Sam Richardson has two cats and thought about one of them while voicing Chico, who is bulbous and content. “I always imagined myself as a thinner cat, but with all of the snacking (during) lockdown …”
One actor is at ease with his character. Nat Faxon plays Chief, a St. Bernard with great enthusiasm and minimal introspection.
He “drew a lot from one of my good friends, who just has a lust for life,” Faxon said. “He loves to have a really good time and doesn’t ever really get to the depths of something.”
His friend is happy to be portrayed as a St. Bernard, Faxon said. After all, Chief is a good role model:
“We should all sort of live life like that, you know? Things don’t need to be this complicated. It can just be eating, sleeping, (defecating) and chasing squirrels.”