After writer Sarah Haskins got married, she went from being a carefree single woman to wife and stepmom virtually overnight. That whirlwind life change was the inspiration for ABC's critically acclaimed sitcom Trophy Wife, which Haskins created with writing partner Emily Halpern. Malin Akerman plays Kate, a party girl who falls for an older, successful man (Bradley Whitford) with three kids from two ex-wives (Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins). With the show struggling in the ratings, Halpern and Haskins explain why Trophy Wife is rewarding TV.
TV Guide Magazine: I have time to watch one more show. Tell me why it should be yours.
Sarah Haskins: Watch Trophy Wife because it will make you laugh and might make your family seem normal by comparison. We've also got one of the most incredibly talented and hilarious casts on television.
TV Guide Magazine: Who should be watching?
Emily Halpern: Everyone! Especially viewers in the 18-49 demographic and Nielsen families.
TV Guide Magazine: What happens if we don't watch your show?
Haskins: Um... we get cancelled? This seems like a trick question.
TV Guide Magazine: Give us an equation for Trophy Wife.
Halpern: Modern Family meets Arrested Development with a dash of the parenting humor and warmth brought to us by The Cosby Show plus the ratings of Canadian football.
TV Guide Magazine: What's the best thing anyone has said or written about your show?
Halpern: Time called us "America's Best New Family Sitcom." And The New Yorker said, "Trophy Wife is the tits." (Both true)
TV Guide Magazine: What's the worst thing?
Haskins: Some people don't like the title of the show.
TV Guide Magazine: Who was right?
Halpern: We'd always meant for the title to be ironic. Kate is much more than a Trophy Wife — she's a smart, spontaneous young woman who loves her husband and is trying to find her place in his big, blended family full of step-kids and ex-wives. No one's right or wrong. We just hope that even people who don't love the title will come to love the show.
TV Guide Magazine: What's an alternate title?
Haskins: The West Wing 2
TV Guide Magazine: When it comes to the long history of TV's cute/sassy kids, where does Bert fit in?
Haskins: We really just wanted Bert, like all the characters, to be both funny and real. Bert's character is actually pretty close to the real-life Albert Tsai. Albert speaks and acts like a kid but also has a very adult-like intelligence and curiosity. We spend a lot of time sucking up to him because we'll probably be working for him someday.
TV Guide Magazine: What might surprise us about Malin Akerman?
Halpern: How crazy nice she is. She's one of the nicest people we've ever worked with. She's so gorgeous that she could be way, way meaner and probably get away with it. Don't tell her how pretty she is! Shhh! Our secret.
TV Guide Magazine: Come up with a premise for the spin-off.
Haskins: At age eight, Bert moves out of the house and gets his own talk show.
TV Guide Magazine: Let's scare the network. Tell us an idea that didn't make it to the screen.
Halpern: We pitched them an idea that Warren and Hillary (who are brother and sister) audition for the same local commercial and both get cast, only to discover that they have a kissing scene together. ABC drew the line at siblings making out.
TV Guide Magazine: Finish this sentence: "If you like _______, you'll love our show."
Haskins: Family comedies. Beautiful blondes. Emmy winners. Oscar winners. Strong women. Adorable kids. Laughter. Take your pick!
TV Guide Magazine: Pick a show and start a fake feud.
Halpern: Scandal. They steal a lot of our story ideas.
TV Guide Magazine: With what show would you like to do a crossover episode?
Haskins: We're sort of doing a crossover with Scandal, except it's a one-sided crossover where we are crossing over to them. In our half-cross, Diane (Harden) gets obsessed with Scandal and then channels her inner Olivia Pope to help out Kate.
TV Guide Magazine: Tease us with a few things coming up next on the show.
Halpern: We have some big episodes coming up in March. First there's "Bert's Birthday," where Bert becomes a bit of a Bertzilla. That episode ends with an amazing dance number everyone on the planet should see. Then we have a two-part wedding episode. We won't spoil it by telling you who's getting married... but we will meet some extended family (played by fabulous guest stars Megan Mullally, Florence Henderson and Bob Gunton) and a few Muppets.
Trophy Wife airs Tuesdays, 9:30/8:30c on ABC.