“We had one sentence to work with, basically the concept was ‘A guy’s best friend marries his MILF,’” Richard Keith told Examiner in a recent interview.
Richard and co-creator Erin Cardillo have been working on this project for Alloy Entertainment for a little over three years. On Monday, August 3, the result of their efforts, the series premiere of “Significant Mother,” will air on The CW (9:30/8:30c).
“We’re pretty excited,” Erin acknowledged, “because it’s been such a long journey from the time this was conceived of as a digital series for CW Seed to it getting picked up and shooting the first season for The CW. The fact that we are going to finally have people watching it in just a few days is pretty exciting!”
We’ve been working on the show for as long as I’ve been married,” Richard pointed out. “Three years this fall for my wife and for the show,” he laughed.
In 2012, Alloy Entertainment pitched that initial idea to Erin and Richard. Instead of jumping in and running with the whole MILF aspect, the pair broke down exactly how something like that could happen. “We wanted to try and figure out how a guy would even start dating his best friend’s mom,” Richard explained. “We wanted to try and figure out the most grounded version of that idea, how it could really happened, what everybody’s response would be, and what challenges that relationship would face in its early stages.”
After figuring out those details, they pitched “Significant Mother” to the CW Seed at the end of 2013 and the show was purchased as a digital series. The next step was to make the first three episodes, something Richard and Erin called the tri-lot (a three episode pilot).
Since Erin and Richard never really considered “Significant Mother” a web series, they constructed the episodes so that they could easily be moved over to television, if they need ever arose.
“Erin and I always thought of this as a pilot for the network,” Richard confessed. “I don’t know if they thought of it that way as much as we always did, but our goal was always to get it on TV.”
In 2015, The CW decided that “Significant Mother” was, indeed, better suited for network television, so in March of this year, Erin and Richard, were given three months to come up with seven new episodes and a month and a half to shoot them.
“Erin and I and Tripp Reed (Executive Producer) discussed how each episode should deal with a stage of Jimmy (friend) and Lydia’s (mother) relationship, those things that you go through when you first start dating,” Richard informed. “And, we should see how that affects Nate (son) because of the fact that his best friend’s girlfriend is also his mother.”
“And no, we’ve never actually had that experience,” Erin laughed. “But as a writer, you need your entry point into the story, how do you connect with the characters?”
“It is a really interesting time in society,” Richard interjected. “Our generation is the first generation where the parents encourage their kids to ‘go follow your heart and do what makes you happy.’ Our parents are from a generation where you did the right thing, said the right thing, got the right job, and married the right person, so it’s kind of an interesting dichotomy to see those parents getting to be the people they taught their kids to be, the person they never had a chance to be when they were that age.”
“It’s about starting to see your parents as real people,” Erin followed up. “That is something that Richard and I both really connected to. Then we started looking at things through the lens of ‘What would it be like having parents who are experiencing their own coming of age as you are going through the dating world?’ ‘What would happen if your parents divorced and they were looking for love, looking for a new start, looking for the next chapter at the same time you were building a career and finding a love of your own?’ That was what we found really interesting about the show. The characters are just different points of view and different expressions of that idea.”
“And it is such a lucky thing for us to be working with The CW because they are so big into character and character growth and development,” Erin continued. “That really helped us avoid the potential trap of how it could very much become a show that was just a sketch about Stifler’s mom (“American Pie”) or something very jokey. The CW really pushed us to make it about something more, so I think for me this is really a show about what it means to be the adult child of divorce. It’s about what it means to see your parents as real people who don’t have all of the answers and who don’t have a significant other or they have a significant other whom you don’t like. It’s about that transformation from all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-answering eye to someone who is just as messed up and lost as you are! Can you become friends with and understand and accept your parents as people?”
When Examiner asked if it was more of a comedy or more of a drama, Richard responded, “It’s definitely a comedy, but it has a lot of heart. It’s one of The CW’s first ventures into comedy and what was nice about that was they always felt that the show was really funny and they loved our jokes, but like Erin was saying, they really pushed us to explore the characters a little more deeply. They wanted us to allow the characters to grow and to change in a way that doesn’t necessarily happen in a network comedy, so I think it has more of the feel of a cable comedy in that way, it’s a little bit more episodic.”
In closing, Erin and Richard wanted to point out an additional aspect of the show.
“I think the only thing that we didn’t really touch upon is the fact that Erin and I are big movie and TV buffs, so we have a lot of cool cameos and guest stars. We make references to classic films and TV shows, so if people like shows that sort of wink and give a nod to other films and shows, they will probably enjoy this.”
“Our main two guys have been friends since they were in kindergarten, so a lot of the references that come up in the show are things they might have experienced as kids,” Erin explained. “In other words, the history of their friendship is expressed through those references.”
Richard concluded, “We definitely have a lot of those and we try to poke a little fun at our actors’ past history of work, too. They’ve all been really good sports about it. But to come into our first show the way that we did with not a ton of experience but with a ton of hope and ambition… We couldn’t have gotten luckier with the cast and crew that we have. I can’t believe that we’re getting to put this on TV with all of these wonderful people! I personally couldn’t feel luckier than to have my first experience be this one.”
Erin added, “I agree with all of that, but I am also thankful that we got to work in Portland. We shot the whole series up in Portland and it really is a bit of a character in our show, as well. We just love that city and we are ever so grateful for Portland being so welcoming in all of the locations that we shot in. It was just a really wonderful experience!”
The series premiere of “Significant Mother” will air on The CW on Monday, August 3 at 9:30/8:30c.
“Significant Mother”: website • Facebook • Twitter
Erin Cardillo: website • Facebook • Instagram • Twitter • IMDb
Richard Keith: Facebook • Instagram • Twitter • IMDb