Airing Saturday nights on PIVOT, Raising McCain is an edgy docu-talk series following Meghan McCain, the outspoken daughter of Senator John McCain, talking to experts, regular people and members of her generation, to explore the most important and unusual questions of the day, all framed by her own life experiences. Discussing topics that include privacy, bullying, feminism and the death of romance, the episodes are an uncensored look at both the world and Meghan McCain, herself.
During this recent exclusive interview with Collider, Meghan McCain, who is equal parts charming and blunt, talked about how great it is to do the show with total creative freedom, why PIVOT was the right home for her, what inspired this particular format for the series, how they decided on the subjects and issues to explore, how comfortable she is surrounded by cameras, getting to pick up a camera and do some of the filming herself, and just how liberating the entire experience has been. Check out what she has to say after the jump.
MEGHAN McCAIN: I’ve had the best time ever, shooting this show. I could never make this show on any other network. No one would take this kind of gamble on me, or this kind of a show because it is so weird. I’m just so proud of it. I really loved making it. My crew and my producers have become my little family.
How did you find out about PIVOT and pursue doing a show there?
McCAIN: My production company brought me to Evan Shapiro. I was meeting with other people and pitching this in a little bit of a different form. We had our meeting and I’m supposed to keep a poker face, which is why I hate meetings like that. I’m very expressive. So, we left and I was like, “This is where we’re working, and we’re working with him. That’s it.” We fought a little when we first met, but I liked it. I was like, “At least he’s being honest.” And he saved me from making a horrible mistake with my life. I’m forever indebted to Evan that I didn’t do a traditional reality show.
What was it about this particular concept that appealed to you?
McCAIN: It’s our brainchild. I’ve always wanted to do something like this, and I felt very constricted in studios. I worked in cable news for a long time, but I’m not a pundit. I’m just not. I’m grateful to people that are, but I was really miserable trying to do that. I just wanted to be myself. At PIVOT, Evan said, “Be yourself and make a show,” and I said, “Thank you!” I’m also bringing my brothers on the show. It’s not a reality show, but cameras see a lot and I talk a lot about some things that are personal. I’ve never had trust with anyone I’ve ever been employed with before, and I really trust my production company and I really trust PIVOT, that we’re all on the same page and we all want the same thing. I’ve never had that before, in my entire life, ever, even on my father’s campaign. So, to work with people who I feel like I’m on the same page with, there’s no amount of money in the world that compares to that.
How did you decide on the subjects and issues you wanted to discuss?
McCAIN: We pitched a bunch of things and PIVOT pitched a bunch of things. It’s probably half and half. A lot of it was from meeting and brainstorming with my production company. We were in a meeting and some guy started sexting me and I was like, “Fucking romance is dead! This is an episode!” That’s literally what happened. A lot of it just draws from my life. But, I’ve never seen anything on TV that talks about, “What am I supposed to do, if I don’t want to sext a guy, but he’s still interested in me? Is technology killing romance?” I’ve never seen that before, so that’s why we made it. I wanted to talk about the things that were in my life, as well. One of my favorite episodes is on veterans, and millennial veterans coming home and their experience. I feel like the media pays too much attention to veterans going away and then coming back either really fucked up or really awesome. What about all that middle ground? My brother, who’s a Marine, guest-hosted that one, and a bunch of my friends were in the episode. My friend Earl, who lost his leg and his brother committed suicide, shared his story on camera. So many of the episodes have people in my life in them, so that makes it more comfortable, as well.
McCAIN: People keep saying that and I’m like, “Well, I guess you weren’t seven years old with 60 Minutes in your house, as a child, when you were eating breakfast.” I’ve literally had cameras around me, my whole life. It’s the crew, more than anything. We all get along so well. We exceeded our beer budget on the show because me and the crew would drank after work. I’ve never worked at a place where I didn’t want to leave, and everyone there didn’t want to leave. After we cut, we’d always take an extra hour, bullshitting about the day and drinking. I know everything about the personal lives of my entire crew and my producers. How I exist in this world is that you’re in or you’re out. You are family or you are the enemy.
I come from politics. Everyone is so close. I’m really good friends with my mic man now. I hang out with him all the time in Brooklyn. My audio man is a character in the show. He has the best job, ever, because he has to put stuff down girls’ shirts all day. I just don’t want any facade when we’re filming the show. I don’t like reality shows for that reason because they’re too produced. We’re making a show. There are cameras around. This is the crew and this is our interaction. And then, they gave me my own camera, which is my favorite part.
The best part about this show is that, if I get sick of being filmed, they give me a camera and I start filming everybody else, or I’ll start filming myself. There are no rules. There’s lawlessness on this fucking show, but it’s awesome. I’m sick of abiding by fucking rules. But, this show is my baby and I love it. I’ve had the best time! I’m really good friends with everyone I work with. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. I’ve never been happier. I was really unhappy in the job I had before. I did not like working at MSNBC. It was very difficult for me because I don’t bullshit around. I’m grateful for the experience. I don’t want people to misinterpret that because I learned a lot working there, but I just wasn’t a good fit for them. Going from that, where I felt like I had to be so structured, to this where there’s lawlessness, it’s like a dream come true.
Did you find yourself looking over your shoulder for the other shoe to drop?
McCAIN: We drink on the show and we swear a lot, and I was worried about that. The issues we discuss are pretty heavy. It’s just done in a more light-hearted way. My showrunner is a big part of the show, and we’ve become extremely close. I think he would have put me in line, if I was doing something wrong. But, the stars really aligned. I felt like I was at camp. And I miss everyone.
Do you ever worry about your family or friends seeing you talk about a particular subject?
McCAIN: My friends and family know me pretty well. I don’t think they’re going to be surprised when they watch the show.
McCAIN: We have a guest host for each episode, and then we interview a bunch of different people. We wanted to get as many perspectives as possible, so we interviewed a lot of people. I learned a lot about myself doing these episodes, and hearing so many different experts and so many different opinions. I just want people to come to their own conclusion, at the end of each episode.
Obviously, being in the public eye, people have certain opinions of you and who you are. What do you think this will show people of you, that they haven’t gotten to see before?
McCAIN: I think there are a lot of people out there who think I’m a conservative, snobby girl. Hopefully, this will show that I’m not, or at least I don’t think I am. It’s definitely me, uncensored and raw. If people love me, they’re going to love the show. If they hate me, they’re going to hate the show and never want to see it. So, we’ll see. I hope people like it.
Are you already thinking about future possibilities with the show? Do you want to continue doing the show?
McCAIN: It depends on if America wants to see more of me. America might be like, “No, this is too sensory overload! She’s too crazy!” But, I love this job. I have had the best time, ever. I don’t know what the fuck I did in my last life to get so lucky in this one. I have this awesome show that I love making, and I really get to be myself. In my life, and the kind of life I grew up in, there’s a lot of pressure to morph into something. I’m in a place in my life, at 28, where I can just be 100% myself and say what I feel. I’m not scared of the repercussions of the things that I’m talking about on this show, and that’s a really liberating experience.
Raising McCain airs on Saturday nights on PIVOT.