From executive producer/writer Emily Kapnek (Suburgatory), the ABC comedy series Splitting Up Together tells the story of a couple – Lena (Jenna Fischer) and Martin (Oliver Hudson) – who start to remember what they love and appreciate about each other, now that they’ve split up. As they continue to co-parent their three kids – Mae (Olivia Keville), Mason (Van Crosby) and Milo (Sander Thomas) – and try to find ways to individually relate to them, they’re also trying to figure out what to do next with their own lives.
During this interview with Collider, co-stars Jenna Fischer and Oliver Hudson talked about the appeal of Splitting Up Together, that neither character is the bad guy, getting to know the actors who play their kids, what their first table read was like, and whether they’re rooting for their characters to get back together.
Collider: When this script came your way, did you immediately get what this show and the tone would be?
JENNA FISCHER: I read the script, and then shortly after that, I met with (creator/executive producer) Emily Kapnek and (executive producer/pilot director) Dean Holland. They talked to me about how very important it was to them that we capture the heartbreak and reality of the situation while, at the same time, capturing the comedy. They didn’t want to gloss over the real feelings associated with the complications of divorce.
OLIVER HUDSON: The tone is what drew me to the script, in the beginning. It wasn’t your typical single-camera comedy from a network. Luckily enough, I got the job, and I was just praying and hoping that they were gonna execute it the way I felt it should be executed, because I’m just an actor for higher, and they did. The network understood what we wanted to do, and the marketing team understands how we want to present this show. All in all, tonally, this show is going down the right path because it’s different from things you see on a network. As long as they lean into that, I think we have something really special.
FISCHER: Tonally, it’s okay to feel sad, if something feels sad, and it’s okay to be hurt, if it warrants it. We’re not afraid of those moments.
I love that neither of these characters is the bad guy.
FISCHER: They’re both the good guy and both the bad guy, which is what most real-life situations are.
They also both realize that maybe they both need each other more than they realized.
HUDSON: Yeah. You can’t just freewheel your way through life. You do need structure, and that’s a lesson that he has to learn through her. What’s also great is that we get to see each other change and evolve. When we’re on our own, I get to see how she loosens up, later on in the show. She lets things go and basically says, “Fuck it!” And she gets to see him make dinner and take care of the kids when they’re sick.
FISCHER: Sometimes you think you know the answer to your situation. After divorce, my character thinks the answer is that she needs to date, she needs someone to love her, and she needs these things. Over the course of the season, she starts to realize that she actually doesn’t need that and that she was wrong. She starts becoming a little bit more self-reflective, which I appreciated. That’s what’s so cool to me about this show. It’s complex and we even contradict ourselves sometimes, as characters, which people do.
Were you worried about what kind of child actors you might end up working with?
HUDSON: They found three amazing kids (Olivia Keville, Van Crosby and Sander Thomas), who you’ve never really seen before. They just crushed it.
FISCHER: For all of them, it’s their first big break.
HUDSON: They’re not just in the periphery, and they shouldn’t be because this is a story about a whole family.
This divorce also affects them.
HUDSON: Exactly! It mostly affects them. The goal is to be divorced, but raise great children. That’s really what we’re trying to do, at the end of the day. It’s mostly about them, and it’s secondarily about us.
And their family and friends don’t seem to be shy about telling them how they feel about the situation, which is where a lot of the comedy comes from.
HUDSON: What’s great is that you get to see this alternative relationship, with Bobby [Lee] and Lindsay [Price], that shows it can work in a thousand different ways. Martin could never be Arthur, in that relationship. He could never have a woman like Camille in his life, but it works for them. You never know what’s gonna work. They accept their roles, in their relationship, and they’re happy with that.