By all accounts, NBC’s Crowded is a throwback sitcom, like something you might have seen on TGIF in the late ’90s. It comes from the creator of Hot in Cleveland, Suzanne Martin, and executive producers Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) and Jimmy Burrows (Friends, Cheers). It’s shot in front of a live-studio audience and features established stars like Miranda Cosgrove (Nickelodeon’s iCarly), Patrick Warburton (Seinfeld), and Carrie Preston (True Blood). It even features the most beloved actress of the last 60-plus years (but we won’t spoil that for you here—you’re going to have to tune in for that hilarious cameo). Still, even with all the nostalgic properties of an old-school sitcom, the concept of Crowded is surprisingly quite in line with today’s millennials.
In this case, early 20-somethings Shea (Miranda Cosgrove) and Stella (Mia Serafino) move back home after college and realize that being out on your own isn’t as grand of an idea as it was before college. Relationships certainly aren’t as simple either. Stella is sexually fluid, unafraid of what others might think, while parents Mike (Warburton) and Martina (Preston) aren’t afraid to let an F-bomb fly every once in a while (with censors, of course). Safe to say TGIF never saw these story lines every Friday night.
During NBC’s Television Critics Association press tour, we sat down with Miranda Cosgrove, 22, and Mia Serafino, 26, to talk about those changes and what it’s really like to be fresh out of college in today’s always-changing landscape.
Glamour: Miranda, you have your own house, but you still live with your parents.
Miranda Cosgrove: I do. I could see where people might think that kids aren’t working hard enough, but all my friends live at home and go to college and are working towards something, and they still love being with their families.
Mia Serafino: It’s really common nowadays, especially to have a career in the arts. I feel like we grew up at a time where we had parents that would say, “You can be whatever you want!” But my parents’ generation—if they weren’t a doctor or a lawyer or marrying one, it was a let down. I went to school for musical theater, and when I graduated, I went home for six months. Now I have my own place in Los Angeles, but I went home for a little bit and was treated like royalty [by my parents]. It was awesome. [Laughs] My mom would cook me pasta, my dad would fill up my gas tank. Now I live by myself, right down the street from where we shoot, which is nice.
Glamour: Famed director Jimmy Burrows directed his 1,000th episode on your show. Back when he directed the pilot of Friends, he took the six cast members to Vegas to help them bond, saying it was going to be their last chance at anonymity. What was it like working with him?
Mia: I’m a huge Jimmy Burrows fans. When I was little, I would watch Cheers, Will and Grace, and, of course, Friends is the ultimate. Jimmy would get so annoyed with me because on set I’d be like, “Tell me about this time…” There was actually a TV on playing old episodes of Friends, and he’d say, “Did I do this episode?” and I would say, “No, you didn’t.” He would tell me stories [about Friends] because he knows I just geek out to it.
Glamour: What did he tell you?
Mia: He would tell me about how certain scenes would work and how the first time Ross and Rachel kissed, how he staged it. He purposely had them walk a whole room’s length, which was kind of unusual for a sitcom because they thought that was dead air—but he wanted to build up the anticipation.
Glamour: “The One With the Prom Video.”
Mia: Yes! And we had a lot of the same crew guys on Crowded that did Friends, so that was fun.
Miranda: Jimmy doesn’t say a lot, but he’s awesome. He’ll say a few things about whatever the scene is, and he makes it really good and makes it really work.
Mia: Or he’ll say, “Take a sip of water when you say this line, and it will be way funnier.” And he’s right. He is really a scientist of comedy.
Glamour: Crowded isn’t afraid to challenge stereotypes and push boundaries. In an early episode, Mia, your character both chops her hair off and makes out with a girl. When it comes to today’s younger generation, people seem to be more open that gender is fluid. Does that topic come up with your friends?
Mia: I was talking with one of the writers, and they were saying, “Your character is what we call sexually fluid.” One of my lines is, “That doesn’t make me a lesbian. I’m not even bisexual. I’m just going with it.” That’s acceptable now—I have a lot of gay friends, and I think this is one of the first multi-cam sitcoms where we’re really pushing the envelope and showing what is going on with families and real dialogue, not just cookie cutter. In one episode, my character, as you mentioned, is kissing a girl, but we don’t even make that big of a deal of it. It’s not like, “Oh my God!” It’s just whatever.
Miranda: I definitely think it’s a cool time when it’s just about being happy. Whatever makes you happy is awesome, so I’m definitely all about being yourself.
Glamour: Are there any particular topics you’d like to see the show address based on what you’ve gone through as teenagers?
Miranda: I’m still trying to figure out if there are other things I’d like to do in life. I’m going to college right now, and the show does touch on that, but there’s a whole arc about us trying to get jobs and a lot of my friends are going through that. Even I feel like that sometimes with figuring out what I want to do. I’ve taken photography classes, film classes—just trying to figure it all out.
Mia: Ever since I was a little kid, getting older seemed so scary—just not being a kid anymore. The weird thing about living with your parents is that you just revert back to kid mode, but being an adult would keep me up at night. We do one episode—Carol Kane actually guest-stars—and they made my character see her and be like, “Oh, no, this is my future!” because she plays a crazy cat lady. So, just thinking about getting older and being on your own. I also want to see more relationship arcs. I’d like to see them go further with the lesbian relationship stuff.
Crowded premieres two episodes tonight on NBC. On Sunday, March 20, the show airs in its regular time slot (and features that hilarious guest star we spoke about!).
Photos: NBC/Vivian Zink; Justin Lubin/NBC