‘Episodes’ Promises to Go Out With a Bang: ‘They’re All At Some Version of Rock Bottom’

Episodes - Matt LeBlanc, John Pankow
Sophie Mutevelian/SHOWTIME
Matt LeBlanc and John Pankow

The characters on Episodes have hit many low points in Hollywood over the years. In the series’ final season, they’ll each find a way to sink lower. Married writers Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Greig) are making their passion project, the sitcom The Opposite of Us—but with Sean’s moronic ex-partner Tim (Bruce Mackinnon) as showrunner. Former producer Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins) has been blackballed from the industry and now hides in her house watching real estate shows and smoking weed. And actor Matt (Matt LeBlanc, as a fictional version of himself) is hosting The Box, the most confusing network game show in history. He’s also under the thumb of human snail and network exec Merc Lapidus (John Pankow, above, with LeBlanc). “They’re all at some version of rock bottom,” executive producer David Crane says. “Even though Matt is on a hit, he’s now perceived as a game show host. He can’t get a job as an actor.”

But Sean and Beverly probably have it the worst. Not only has insufferable Tim hijacked their series, but he also regales the writing staff with stories about his rescue cat and makes them eat his home cooking. (Fun fact: He’s based on an actual showrunner. Even the recipes are real.) The couple’s only possible salvation lies with unreliable Matt, who asks them to pen his next series.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what stage of your career you’re in, Hollywood will ultimately win,” says executive producer Jeffrey Klarik, who cocreated Episodes with life partner Crane. “Even if things start to go in your direction, someone’s lurking around the corner waiting to throw a wrench into it.” Or they are asking to make the fake game show you created for a cable comedy into a genuine series. “We just got back from London, where we met people who want to turn The Box into a real series,” Klarik says. “It just gets more ludicrous by the second!”

Episodes, Season Premiere, Sunday, Aug. 20, 10/9c, Showtime