"In order for me to come back to TV — being that Earl is still on [in reruns] and that Joy was such a strong character — I have to be able to play something that was completely opposite of her," Pressly told reporters on a conference call last week for her new series I Hate My Teenage Daughter. "And this character is definitely that."
On the Fox sitcom, premiering Wednesday at 9:30/8:30c on Fox, Pressly is now the one being bullied as a single mother who begins to realize her spoiled teenage daughter is morphing into the type of girl that made her life hell in high school. While Earl's Joy was known for her high hair, big ego and even bigger mouth, Pressly describes her new character Annie as "grounded" and "a bit of a dork."
"It's been incredible to be allowed to play a character against type. In this business, you can be pigeon-holed very easily," she said. "If people see that you're good at doing something, they either assume that that's all you can do, or they assume, 'Oh, that's just who she is.'"
Pressly has found inspiration this time from being a mother herself. "I am a single mom, so in reading it, I loved the relationship between myself and Katie [Finneran]'s character, because, honestly if it wasn't for my best friends, I don't know how I would have gotten through all these tough times," she said. "You just do your best to deal with every situation and when you have a best friend with you to help you deal with it, it just makes things that much easier."
Her own son, four-year-old Dezi, has a long way to go before hitting puberty, but Pressly sympathizes with her on-screen alter-ego."It's hard raising a teenager. They are in hormone hell. They think they know everything," she said. "It's not a mean-spirited show, but it is something that goes on. Quite frankly, the daughters bully their moms more than anybody."
Although she says the show itself isn't mean-spirited in nature, Pressly embraces the sitcom's harsh title for its honesty about the parent-child bond. "Whether it's upsetting them, or they like it and agree with it, its grabbing people's attention and that was the point of it in the first place," she said. "We're just saying it for you, because it's a moment that every parent has actually had where they just want to say, 'Oh, my God, I hate my teenager,' but you don't really. Just, on occasion, they can do things that make you want to want crawl into a fetal position."
Will you watch I Hate My Teenage Daughter?