Ana Gasteyer previews SUBURGATORY Season 2!

SUBURGATORY Season 2 starts tonight on ABC at 9:30/8:30c, airing in the prime post-MODERN-FAMILY slot, and the first episode back is easily one of my favorites so far!  Tessa returns from a summer in New York to a Chatswin that’s pretty much the same as it ever was.  George is trying desperately to be cool with the fact that Tessa has an interest in all things “Mom,” Dallas and Noah are fighting over their Nanny, Dalia is being classic Dalia, and the Shays are *this close* to imploding thanks to the new knowledge Lisa has about Ryan’s adoption.

In advance of the season premiere, Mrs Sheila Shay (the wonderful Ana Gasteyer) and I spent a few minutes chatting SUBURGATORY and what’s coming up this season (including visits from some old SNL friends)!

So excited to be talking about a season 2 of SUBURGATORY!
I’m so excited to be in a second season of SUBURGATORY!

I’ve watched the first episode – great first episode back.  Everyone gets a great story to play.
I haven’t seen it yet, so I’m like, the only person!  I live in New York, so I commute back and forth, so they get together and they watch the episodes, and I’m like, “how was it you guys?”  I have to wait with the rest of America [laughs].

What can you tell us about the first episode back, and what we can expect for Sheila?
You know what is so wonderful about doing these interviews, what’s so great, when I signed up for this role, it was garden variety neighbor in my mind.  I was terribly wrong.  Not that there’s not a functionally fun part of that, like an adversary to George, somebody to set him up, but now what’s so great is that Emily has really taken the limits of the character and this relationship that she has with her family, particularly disdaining her daughter, and adoring her son, and completely spun it on its ear, with this adoption secret, that emerged at the end of last season.  The whole first half of the season this year is going to deal with that, with the Shay family dynamic being challenged like that.  Right away, she just dug in for the premiere.  There is still a lot of Sheila, you know, perfection and insanity [laughs], and marital strife!  Of course, judgment.  That’s been what’s been really, really fun to play all season.

I love the disdain for Lisa!  The scenes that you and Allie (Grant) have together – like in the first episode back.  It seems like it could be so much fun to play!
It is so fun!  Especially when you see things in writing.  I mean, obviously, we know this about mothers, but you get to see it family dynamics all the time – that theoretically, we’re completely different, but we’re actually incredibly similar.  That’s what’s so fun – I’ve basically taught my daughter through modeling, how to manipulate, how to jockey for power, so that’s what ends up being so fun about it.  We are much more similar than we are different, I mean the characters are, I should say.  That’s actually been really, really, really fun to play at!  And I love, on a side note, I absolutely love my little Shay family.  I think they’re all incredible performers, so it’s been so thrilling and fun, and fulfilling. Any time it’s just like a Shay-day, we have a great time.  I think Parker, we got really lucky with Parker and Allie, and actually all the kids on my show are so talented, with Carly and Jane, as well.  It’s almost like playing against an adult, there’s no instance of “oh, I’m playing with a child actor.”

I’ve spoken with people in the cast before, and that’s come up each time!  Everybody holds their own, and everybody surprises you!
Oh yeah!  There’s a bunch of old souls.  Even among the adults.  It’s interesting.  The adults are all really willing and able players.  We all have a great time doing what we do.  It’s not labored or mean, or strict.  Everybody is pretty free.

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I love Sheila and Fred, you and Chris (Parnell) together.  You have known each other so long – what is it like playing together and opposite each other these years later?
It’s so fun!  I feel so lucky.  I can’t’ even tell you.  He’s such a pro, and every day that I work with him, I tell him that.  He is exactly what I was just describing: an amazing balance between incredibly disciplined and instinctive as an actor, but also really, really funny and really fun as a person.   It’s just great.  It’s like we can finish each other’s sentences.  I feel so comfortable with him; there are so many times, we don’t even rehearse things that will come up on a take, it’s so natural, and easy, and fun to play.  Our instincts are very fortunately similar.  Not to be overly romantic about it, but I feel very fortunate, because I think that can take a long time to develop as an actor, and we got to jump right in on Episode 3 last year.

The show has been great with guest stars playing different from what we’ve seen before.  We have some guest stars that you’re pretty familiar with coming in this season (Tim Meadows and Rachel Dratch)!
Yes so SNLers – again, it’s the same shorthand, ease, and comfort.  I love that Emily’s embraced that.  Some showrunners get really uptight, like, oh, we don’t want an SNL association with our show, or we don’t want your backstory stinking up their show.  But I think she knows that funny people are going to bring great attitudes to it.  Both times we’ve had the SNLers on, it’s been really, really fun!

You mention the Shay-days – who else would you like to work with this season?
I’ve been lucky to get to work with everybody a little bit.  Everybody is so good on our show.  It makes me laugh, and this only happened I think once, when Dalia and Sheila interacted, and I’ve had a couple of really fun scenes with Alan, but I would have a great time with (his character) Noah as well.  I think Emily Kapnek writes about relationships.  I think that’s what is unique about this show –there are these stereotypes but it’s more about how people interact, when you get them bumped up against each other.  She can make anything make sense.

There’s a heightened sense of reality, but you find the heart!
Oh yeah, totally!

Why do you think people should tune into SUBURGATORY?
[laughs] That’s a good question. I don’t know, it’s a good show!  I think it’s really well written, and really well acted, and thoughtful, and human, and hilarious.  I think it’s about a lot of things.  It’s about affluence and class, and belonging and family.  It’s a show that has a lot more going on.  Plus, like you said, the heightened reality.  I like about the show very much that it’s very cinematic, so you can sort of get a lot out of a half an hour, and you can jump in and enjoy it in and of itself week to week, which I like a lot!

You said a lot of great things about Emily, and it sounds like guys get to play a bit more, with ideas that you have.  Is it very interactive between the writers and the actors on the show?
Yes!  I have to say, the writing is excellent, we rarely quibble with it.  I’m not in the habit of asking for things to be changed much, because honestly the language is really right on target, and certainly the storylines are beyond my wildest dreams.  But yeah, there is a lot of trust.  There is a huge amount of trust, I have to say, between the writers and us, amongst the cast, and amongst the writers.  Organically, that’s going to create a much more creative environment.  You’re not fighting some kind of underlying distrust.  You find that a lot on shows.  That frees you up to have a good time on set and to make choices and not feel like you’re going to get in trouble if you try something even if it doesn’t work.  So we are very often given a lot of artistic leeway, with regards to interpretation, I would say, but I try to stick to the language, because I frankly think she’s a way better writer than I am! [laughs]

I’ve been a fan forever, so it’s so nice to see you on a weekly basis!
Oh thank you so much!  I hope you enjoy the season, I’m really proud to be a part of it!

SUBURGATORY airs Wednesdays on ABC at 9:30/8:30c following all new episodes of MODERN FAMILY.  For more information, head to!