Good news, Jammers! After an extended hiatus, Playing House is back with more body rolls, artisanal cheeses, bodies that most definitely be bangin' and, for better or for worse, the resurrection of Bosephus.
Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair's heartwarming USA comedy returns Friday, June 23 with two back-to-back episodes at 11/10c. The entire third season will then be available to watch on VOD, USANetwork.com and the USA Now app starting Saturday, June 24.
But whether you count yourself as a Jammer or have never seen the show before, there's no doubt that you should tune into Playing House's third season. The half-hour comedy has earned its fiercely devoted fandom for a reason and Season 3 is poised to be its best one yet.
Need more convincing? Here are six reasons to add Season 3 to your must-watch list right now.
1. This season is extremely personal: As St. Clair revealed in an emotional open letter, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. After undergoing treatment and beating the illness with Parham by her side, the pair decided to write St. Clair's real cancer journey into the show.
"It's been the hardest thing we've ever done. It's been the scariest thing we've ever done. It's been the most rewarding thing we've ever done. It's been the thing we're the most proud of," St. Clair tells TVGuide.com. "And honestly — and it's always been this way, even when we weren't tackling such a tough subject like breast cancer — we've always wanted to create television that makes people feel less alone, that comforts people in a hard time, because that's what we turn to television for."
Emma's (St. Clair) diagnosis will come at the halfway point in the season, so fans will get a few episodes with Emma and Maggie (Parham) before they should probably start keeping some tissues handy — not that Playing House will suddenly transform from a comedy into a drama. "Even when you're going through a really intense thing, like what Lennon and I went through with me having breast cancer, hilarious things still ensue," St. Clair promises.
2. The guest stars are pure insanity: Every season, Playing House delivers a new batch of characters who are so lovable, weird and perfect that they wind up making us never want to leave this bizarre little world. This season will see the introduction of June Diane Raphael as a heartless makeup maven, Laurie Metcalf as Emma's oncology surgeon, Michaela Watkins as her plastic surgeon, Lauren Weedman as Bruce's new girlfriend Cookie and RuPaul's Drag Race alums Bob the Drag Queen, Katya, Detox and Jiggly Caliente as drag queens who perform a Tina Turner routine with Emma and Maggie in the season finale.
And if you find yourself falling for any of these characters, don't worry, because they'll probably be back. "A lot of times we'll write characters who we think are one-offs and then we cast these people who are so talented and so warm as people that they become so charming. For instance, Cookie was just supposed to come in, be this insane self-defense teacher that Bruce is dating and then we'd get rid of her," St. Clair says. "Everyone fell in love with Cookie. Everyone wanted more with Cookie. And then she ends up having one of the more meaningful conversations with me in Episode 6 because she is also a breast cancer survivor in this season."
3. Keegan-Michael Key and Zach Woods are national treasures: In addition to the guest cast, this season will also continue to provide a platform for Keegan-Michael Key to be the male romantic lead we all deserve. Now that Mark and Emma are officially together, we get to see a flirty, fun side of Mark we never really got before. Although be warned: not all of his attempts at romantic gestures go off without a hitch (one even ends with him getting karate chopped in the neck). But isn't it the thought that counts?
And how could we forget Zach Woods? The Silicon Valley star continues to steal the show as Emma's eccentric brother this season, which should come as a surprise to no one. In addition to his comedic skills, fans will also get to see a sexier side of Woods this season — that is, if you're into old Greek fishermen and leather suspenders. "We put him in an old fisherman's outfit," St. Clair says. "And every woman on the set lost their minds. Who's this handsome gentleman?"
4. Maggie gets her own love story: After two seasons of focusing on herself and her daughter, Maggie is finally ready to get back out there for the first time after Bruce — and she doesn't even need to go very far. When Maggie is assigned to Dr. Erickson's (Ben Willbond) rotation at work, she finds herself in her own McDreamy situation. Although Erickson might seem cold at first (the nurses even call him Dr. Freeze), the pair soon develop a serious Mr. Darcy-Bridget Jones dynamic (but without that sleazy Hugh Grant hanging around and ruining things).
"You don't understand," St. Clair says. "He will be the next Colin Firth. We believe this."
"He's so warm and gentle and talented and very handsome and so smart and funny," Parham gushes. In short, he's everything we would cast our love interest to be if we wrote and starred in our own show. Good job, Maggie/Parham!
5. It will show sides of cancer journeys you don't often see: Understandably, most shows that tackle cancer focus on the person who's ill. But Playing House makes a great effort to explore how Emma's disease also affects Maggie and the toll cancer takes on the caretaker as well.
One episode in particular, when Emma goes into surgery, will focus mainly on how Maggie and Mark are coping, rather than Emma's experience. "What's funny is I always thought the episode where I get surgery would be all about me getting surgery," St. Clair says. "But the truth of the matter is the person who's undergoing surgery is asleep for most of it. The real drama is happening with the people who love them and are waiting."
Without giving away too much, let's just say that when Emma tells Mark he can't go to the hospital with her (something St. Clair told Parham in real life), he sends a few of his friends to be there in his stead — a few of his stripper cop friends, to be exact.
6. It's still the best friendship on TV: Playing House has always been heralded as one of the best representations of female relationships on TV, and this season will take the idea of women helping women further than ever. Emma, who has always prided herself on being very capable and in control, will struggle greatly with accepting that she can't handle her cancer battle alone — something St. Clair admits she struggled with in real life. But fortunately for her, Maggie won't take no for an answer.
"The universe has forced me to let people help me," St. Clair recalls of her own experience. "I mean, I didn't necessarily want Lennon to see me at chemo because I didn't want to put anyone out. But then you have to surrender and let people help you. And then, getting helped is the best thing in the world because you see how much people love you and how they want to help you and how we help each other, especially as women. And that is the most powerful thing you will ever experience in your entire life. And I wake up so grateful every day for my friends. We were on our way here and I said, 'Lennon, we are the luckiest women in the world because we're surrounded by girls who will do anything for us.'"
"And most women are," Parham says. "So we just wrote about it."
Playing House premieres Friday, June 23 at 11/10c on USA.