Now that ‘How I Met Your Mother’ is officially dunzo, CBS is showcasing the new comedy ‘Friends With Better Lives,’ starring James Van Der Beek, Brooklyn Decker, Kevin Connolly, Majandra Delfino, Rick Donald, and the funny leading lady of this interview, Zoe Lister-Jones.
The comedy revolves around six friends (no, not those ‘Friends’) at different stages in their romantic lives (married, divorced, engaged and single). Enter Lister-Jones’ character, Kate aka the single one. Not only is Kate career-driven and a strong, independent woman, but she’s also struggling with the idea that she is the last single lady of her group of friends and might not ever find love.
Well, I recently caught up with Lister-Jones where we, of course, chatted her new comedy gig, playing a strong, independent woman, and what attracted her to the show.
TVRage: This isn’t your first time starring in a TV comedy, as you’re also known for ‘Whitney.’ What was it about ‘Friends With Better Lives’ that attracted you to the show? How does it differ from other comedies?
Zoe Lister-Jones: Well, it was just a great pilot script. Dana Klein, the creator, has a really special voice. And, it really spoke to me in terms of where I’m at in my life. I think to have a show that is sort of dealing with what it means to be in your late 20s, early 30s and modern relationships at that age is really interesting, and relevant and relatable. The comedic spin on it was risky and funny and bold. So, all of those things really appeal to me.
TVRage: I have to say, your character is one of the most relatable characters, at least for me, on TV right now. She’s independent, strong, successful, opinionated, and so on. She’s a role model for women. Is that a lot of pressure to play that type of character?
Lister-Jones: You know, I never really put that pressure on myself (laughs), because I think people will take from it what they will, and I do think it is a positive image for women -- to be representing a woman who is totally independent, both financially and romantically, and who speaks her mind and is cunning and witty and can go toe-to-toe with the big boys whenever she chooses. What I think is really nice about the character, and how she progresses over the course of the season, is that she also has vulnerable moments.
She’s actually really three-dimensional, as independent women are, and as modern, working women are. Her career is really important to her, and she sort of dates like a dude. (laughs) Deep down she is looking for love and for a real connection with somebody. So, we get to see hints of that scattered throughout the season, which I really like, because I do think it would be easy to play her one-dimensionally. She’s a really interesting character, especially for women right now to see themselves in.
TVRage: In addition to being career-driven, Kate, like most women, wants to find love. In your opinion, do you think it’s harder for a successful and independent woman to find a guy? It almost seems, at times, that we’re still judged for those qualities.
Lister-Jones: I think there are a lot of men who are intimidated by a successful, and career-driven woman. But, I think that’s changing, and I see a lot of my friends, where so many of the women in relationships are the breadwinners these days. It’s actually a really interesting shift in gender roles, because then so many men are stay-at-home dads or house husbands, while the women are out making the most prominent source of income. I would hope that there is a shift in that men wouldn’t be intimidated by career-driven women. (laughs) I do think that a woman like Kate, who is super confident and speaks her mind, is going to alienate a certain type of man. But, I think that that probably is a good thing, because it leaves out the men she would crush and destroy. (laughs)
TVRage: Right. She’s relatable and I think it’s extremely refreshing to see that type of character more and more on TV today. When you read the character description, were you immediately attracted to the role and did you find her relatable?
Lister-Jones: Oh yeah. I was attracted to the role, because like I said of Kate’s dimension, but also because of how funny she was and how biting she was and the role she played in the social circle really appealed to me. I was immediately, totally attracted to her. I did relate to her. I’ve been in a long-term relationship (laughs) and recently got married, so I don’t relate to her on that sort of superficial level, but in terms of her delivery and her outlook, I definitely related.
TVRage: Keeping with Kate’s love life, it seems that she has quite the sexual tension with Will (James Van Der Beek). Is that a road we’ll see pursued, or are they strictly friends, or is it too early to tell?
Lister-Jones: I think there’s going to be a will-they-won’t-they [storyline] throughout the show and for seasons to come. I can’t speak too much to it, because I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but ... they’re the two single people in their social circle and they butt heads all the time. That’s a really fun dynamic so much of the time when you see a guy and a girl who are polar opposites. There’s this weird attraction that comes from that. (laughs) I think that’s the sort of relationship between Kate and Will that’s really fun to explore.
TVRage: Now, Kate runs a successful social media company. Are you social media savvy as well?
Lister-Jones: I’m pretty deep into Instagram. I’m not as good at Twitter. (laughs) I just find that Twitter is so much pressure to say something meaningful and/or funny in very few words. I’m not good at brevity. (laughs) I’m a real talker. I prefer the visual elements of Instagram. … I totally dig Instagram, and I like reading Twitter (laughs), but I’m just not good at writing tweets.
TVRage: A lot of people, I think, struggle with the character restriction.
Lister-Jones: Yeah, my character doesn’t like to be restricted.
TVRage: What can we expect for Kate in upcoming episodes?
Lister-Jones: She’s just constantly searching for whether it’s love or sex (laughs) or fulfilment in one of those two categories. I think that’s sort of her quest, in addition to running a successful business. So, we’re gonna see her with various suitors. (laughs) I had to make out with a lot of different dudes, which is fun for a married woman. We get to see some really fun dynamics between her and Jules and Andi, played by Brooklyn Decker and Majandra Delfino, and then also between her and Will.
TVRage: Lastly, why would you encourage others to tune in to the show?
Lister-Jones: I think that it’s totally relatable and modern and funny and risky and raunchy and all of the things that great TV is made of. The cast is so great. We all really love each other in real life, which I think does translate. We all have really good chemistry. All of the different ensemble shows, like ‘How I Met Your Mother’ or ‘Friends,’ are so much based on the chemistry of those characters, wanting to be part of that group, living vicariously through them and relating to them. So, I think all of those things are totally present in ‘Friends With Better Lives.’
‘Friends With Better Lives’ airs Mondays at 8:30/7:30c on CBS.