'Fam' EP Corinne Kingsbury Says People Will See Their Own Family in New CBS Series
"I fought very hard to get her," says Fam showrunner Corinne Kingsbury on star Nina Dobrev (pictured), whom Kingsbury calls a "comedy chameleon."
A new Fam comes to CBS’s lineup of comedies on Thursday nights. Nina Dobrev enters the sitcom world as Clem, who is seeing her life come together with a loving fiancé, Nick, (Tone Bell) and welcoming future in-laws.
However, that is all turned upside down when her free-spirited teenage half-sis Shannon (Odessa Adlon) comes to live with the couple. This becomes the catalyst that brings Clem’s past and family back into the picture, including her less-than-ideal father. At the helm of the series is creator, executive producer and showrunner Corinne Kingsbury, known for her work on The Newsroom.
Before the show's premiere, the 37-year-old took time to talk about why the show will resonate and how she took from her own experiences when formulating it.
Where did the vision or inspiration come for a show like this?
Corinne Kingsbury: I grew up watching ‘90s sitcoms. Those are my favorite things in the world. To this day, I still watch Frasier every night before I go to bed. I really wanted to create a show that I would love if it was on the air, and I could watch before I go to bed. That was the inspiration why I wanted to do a multi-cam and why I landed on a very simple premise with very relatable characters. I kind of went from there.
I [also] just love family shows and love those dynamics. I would think about what the best version of all those shows would be, and this is what I came up with. I married my husband [John Francis Daley], and he comes from the most normal background with the most normal parents. He has a very loving upbringing where he is an only child. His parents have been married for 35 years and have dinner every Sunday. I came from a very dysfunctional background. So, when I met his family, I felt like I finally had this perfect family. Then I didn’t realize he would have to meet my past. It’s really these two families coming together as one and learning from each other with different backgrounds and how that kind of forms into one perfect family.
When it came to Nina — someone not really known for comedy or sitcoms and coming into this new territory — when did her involvement start?
We were going through the casting process, and our lovely casting director showed us these Funny or Die videos Nina did. I didn’t know her from comedy or see The Vampire Diaries, but I went into a deep dive of these comedy videos that she made. She was so hilarious and so funny and so versatile. She was sort of this comedy chameleon, and I couldn’t believe it. And I fought very hard to get her. It wasn’t a fight with the network at all because everybody loved her. Then she came on board, and we’re so lucky to have her.
What’s great about the show is the reliability and the diversity within the cast. You’re seeing blended families. Was that by design in the beginning or did that evolve over time?
I love the idea of modern families, so it slowly evolved. I was so excited to have so much diversity in our show. Tone came on, and he was so perfect. Then it kind of went from there.
What’s the feeling like on set in your eyes? How is the cast meshing?
It was great. It was so collaborative, which I loved most about it, as it was this half-hour play we would put on every week. It would start from the table and evolve over the course of the week. Everyone had ideas. Everyone threw pitches with the best joke and idea won. Sometimes the pitches would come from all over the place. I was excited to have all of these voices on the show.
With The Big Bang Theory ending this season, CBS is looking for another hit comedy. What is it like to be in this kind of landscape?
Our time slot is so great. I’m thrilled to be behind Mom, especially on Thursday nights. I feel like everybody is dying for another one of those hits. I just hope we can be one. I think what is nice about our show is it feels really modern. It feels really fresh, but it still has that cozy nostalgic feeling of those '90s sitcoms I grew up with.
One of the standout moments of the recent Golden Globes was Regina King saying in her acceptance speech that she is setting a two-year goal that everything she produces will be 50-percent women. Not only do you have this show green-lit, but another with the CW’s upcoming In the Dark. What’s it like to see this shift closer to gender equality?
I am such a champion for women. I try to surround myself with women both in my personal life and professional life. I want as many writers and women actors and PAs. I think the more women the better. I think it’s so nice we’re finally getting shots that we’ve deserved for decades.
How does it feel to have two projects airing almost simultaneously (In the Dark is aiming for a March premiere)? That has to be gratifying for you.
It was an aggressive dream come true. I had the time of my life. It was awesome, and I worked with such amazing people. I feel so fortunate and lucky and I can’t wait for everyone to see what I’ve been seeing all day, every day for the last year of my life.
What should viewers of Fam expect in the next few weeks?
It’s really accessible. I think people will be able to see their family in this show. It’s fun. It just feels like we are telling relatable characters going through real issues. I think you’re in for 22 minutes of cozy laughter each week.
Fam, series premiere Thursday, Jan. 10, 9:30/8:30c, CBS