Jenna Fischer’s ‘Splitting Up Together’ Blog: Breaking Fun With Oliver Hudson, Q&A With Emily Kapnek

Splitting Up Together - Oliver Hudson and Jenna Fischer
Spoiler Alert

[This is the weekly post-mortem column for ABC’s new comedy, Splitting Up Together, courtesy of star Jenna Fischer, who plays Lena.  Watch a new episode every Tuesday and then come to TV Insider to read Jenna’s behind-the-scenes insights in her own words! Spoiler Alert: Read ahead only after watching this week’s episode, “Star of Milo.”]

Tonight’s opening scene was the one that made Oliver [Hudson, who plays Martin] and I break more than any other of the series. It probably had something to do with the fact that I don’t know much about matcha tea or kimchi. So, I was really out of my element. I was distracted by the cute little wooden tea whisk. I kept mixing up my lines, saying “Josh smelled like hot matcha,” which would tank the scene at the very end.

To make matters worse, we shot this scene on a Friday night after a long week of shooting. Our brains were mush. Oliver and I couldn’t remember our lines and we couldn’t stop laughing. Oh! Did you know that matcha tea has a TON of caffeine! Yep! I don’t know how the crew felt, but we had the time of our lives. Eventually, we got the scene, and I actually really love how it turned out.

We deal with a big dilemma for divorced families in tonight’s episode — when is the right time to include a new significant other in family milestones/holidays/birthdays?

In this episode, Lena decides she is fine inviting Martin’s new girlfriend Lisa Apple (Monica Barbaro) to Milo’s (Sander Thomas) birthday party. But as soon as Lisa walks in the door, Lena bristles. It’s easy to be ready, gracious and open to the idea of Lisa in her house, but it turns out it is a lot harder to behave that way once she is there. I loved tackling this issue.

I asked our showrunner Emily Kapnek if she would let me in on how she developed the episode:

Where did the idea for this episode come from?

Emily Kapnek: We took some inspiration from the Danish series for this episode. They did a fantastic Christmas episode where Martin’s new girlfriend doesn’t have holiday plans and he feels torn, leaving her alone. He asks Lena if he might invite her to join in their family festivities. Lena tries to play it cool and agrees — but it’s clear she is very uncomfortable.

Later, Lena winds up having a full-blown meltdown at the dinner table when Martin’s girlfriend tries to add her own “fun twist” to one of their longstanding family traditions. It’s funny and heartbreaking all at once.

Lena has her own version of a meltdown when she cries in the bathroom, but she doesn’t lash out. What made you change that?

We knew we wanted to do something in this area, but wondered if Lena’s behavior event could actually bring her closer to Martin, instead of driving them apart. We also discussed the idea of Lena developing a newfound respect and possible fondness for Lisa Apple. By the way, this is no easy feat!

(l-r) Diane Farr, Bobby Lee, Jenna Fischer, Oliver Hudson in this week’s Splitting Up Together.

You know that from experience!

Having been through this as a child of divorce and then again later, as an adult, it’s one of the most challenging aspects of separating. When your ex is dating someone who develops their own unique relationship with your child, it’s really rough. Even if you know it’s healthy for them to do so! The Lisa/Lena relationship is one I am very intrigued in and plan to explore much more fully, in season two…

This seems like a good time to announce … in case you haven’t already heard … Splitting Up Together was picked up for a second season! And, considering what I know about next week’s finale cliffhanger … this is VERY VERY good news! Our finale might be my favorite episode of the entire first season.

Fun bit of trivia: Jasper 1 and Jasper 2 were played by the real-life kids of Emily Kapnek and director Dean Holland. Oliver’s kids played extras at the birthday party. It was so fun to have everyone’s kids on set that week. I think Sander (who plays Milo) was especially excited to have kids his own age on set.

Splitting Up Together, Tuesdays, 9:30/8:30c, ABC.