Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Navigating Parenthood in the World of “Extended Family”: Insights from Donald Faison and Jon Cryer

EXTENDED FAMILY — “The Consequences of Sleepovers” Episode 107 — Pictured: (l-r) Jon Cryer as Jim, Donald Faison as Trey — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

Can you imagine your ex-spouse dating the owner of your favorite sports team and having to learn how to co-parent through the process? Well, that’s the scenario in the new sitcom, “Extended Family.” Jon Cryer plays Jim, a single father and a huge Boston Celtics fan whose wife is dating the owner of the Celtics, Trey, played by Donald Faison. So, how do Jim and Trey deal with co-parenting and co-exist? Faison and Cryer give Taji Mag a glimpse of what it’s like and how they use their life experiences to tackle the new sitcom.

Dapper Dr Feel (DDF): How does it feel to be the two sexiest bald me on television right now? You guys are making me look good as a bald guy. (Laughs)

Donald Faison (DF): You need to stop that, buddy. You’re the sexiest bald-headed brother I know.

Jon Cryer (JC): You put us to shame. You put us to shame. Lol!

JC: Yours is smooth. Look at that. It’s like butter. Shiny. But you guys are on TV all the time, so you have to keep it shiny, you know? I can’t shine. Mine’s got to be dull. They have to put makeup on mine to stop the shine.

EXTENDED FAMILY — “The Consequences of Matchmaking” Episode 105 — Pictured: Donald Faison as Trey — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

DDF: Ok, guys, let’s get started. How difficult is it for Jim to co-parent with the owner of his favorite basketball team? How do you handle it? 

DF: I don’t know. That’d be not easy. I’m sure that  I would find love in this situation eventually, but at first, it would involve ribbing him over and over again of how bad it was.

Jon Cryer (JC): I would be like those sports radio guys who just find a way to complain about everything. That’s what I would do.

DDF: Do you find humor helps in real life with your own co-parenting experiences?

DF: Absolutely. I find humor saves you from atrocious pain sometimes. 

JC:  And divorce, you know, that was… The whole point of “Extended Family” was to showcase people trying to find the positives in divorce, you know, in what is a tough situation for everybody. And it’s about finding humor in it. That’s been really fun. I’ve been in the writer’s room during the development of the show, where we essentially explored every possible argument two people could have and figured out how to make it funny.

We did an episode where Trey and Julia, the engaged couple on the show, asked my character, Jim, to give them a pre-cana, which is a Catholic marriage test. It opens up every possible can of worms that can be opened, and it’s a great episode that I’m proud of.

The show takes the old-school multi-camera sitcom format in front of an audience and brings it up to today, and I’m really proud of that.”

EXTENDED FAMILY — “The Consequences of Status” Episode 106 — Pictured: (l-r) Jon Cryer as Jim, Donald Faison as Trip, Abigail Spencer as Julia — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

DDF: What are some of your most memorable moments from filming “Extended Family” so far?

DF: You know, our first show in front of a studio audience, which was the pilot, was a memorable moment because I knew it was happening. I remember us doing it and thinking, “Wow, this really does have a shot.” We had a really good night that night, and that’s probably the first one where it felt like that. Also, seeing the chemistry between John and Abigail for the first time, I was like, “Holy shit.” I got some work to do. They came out of the gate so strong and it was like they were in sync.

I remember the first scene I saw them do was the tracking scene, and it was in front of the audience. I remember thinking, “Oh my God, dude. Wake up. It’s time to work. You’ve got to work.” That was one of the most memorable moments of coming to work and realizing, “Oh, this isn’t a walk in the park. You’re working with vets. You’re working with the real deal Holyfield right now.”

JC: Yeah. And there was another great moment after this really long process. I mean, our first episode was shot almost two years ago, the pilot two years prior. It was actually the first show back after COVID-19 to have a live audience. Everyone was masked, but having that live audience was something everyone in the sitcom business missed.

So, being that first show back, we felt like we had something special. Then, fully a year and a half later, when we finally aired, there was this wonderful moment when an article was sent to my email by my publicist, stating that the show had received a huge sampling due to the football promotion. It exceeded all expectations.

We all just looked at each other, realizing nobody else knew this yet. I showed it first to you, Donald. Yeah. And I said, “People really wanted to see this show.” It was a great moment after such a long journey, especially with all the hurdles like the strike and NBC undergoing leadership changes. Getting the show on air felt like a victory.

EXTENDED FAMILY — “The Consequences of Gaming” Episode 103 — Pictured: Jon Cryer as Jim — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

DDF: Can you tell me a little about your characters on “Extended Family”? 

DF: Well, Trey’s the owner of the Boston Celtics. He’s a self-made man who managed to raise the funds to purchase the team he grew up watching and loving. And I have a bunch of cousins from… you did say to describe the character in a few words. That’s it, I’ll leave it at that. 

JC: No, let’s hear your family history (Faison). Let’s get into it. 

My character, Jim, is a guy who’s very, almost way too comfortable with himself. He’s very different from Alan, the character I played on “Two and a Half Men,” who was always kind of thwarted in his life. Jim hasn’t achieved a whole lot more than Alan, but he’s just much more comfortable with himself, and he’s much more willing to say the things that nobody else is willing to say.

He’s the guy who’s going to make mistakes in front of his kids so that they can learn from it. That’s really fun to play because it’s a different dynamic than I experienced as a parent. It’s a bit aspirational, similar to when I played Ducky in “Pretty in Pink”—he was the kind of guy I would have liked to have been in high school.

DDF: How do you envision Turk (Scrubs) and Alan (Two and a Half Men) navigating co-parenting?

DF: Wow, People would be like, ‘First of all, how did these worlds collide?”

JC: Yeah, they would be like, “What on earth?”

EXTENDED FAMILY — “The Consequences of Gaming” Episode 103 — Pictured: Donald Faison as Trip — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

DF:  How did these universes suddenly collide? I think they’d do great. Both are compassionate and loving human beings, so if they had to co-parent, they’d figure it out. Alan and Turk share a lot in common, way more than Trey and Jim do.

JC: The Turk and Jim dynamic would never be like the Alan and Turk relationship. It would be much bumpier and much less about guy love. But I think Alan, yeah, he was a sucker for his kid in a really wonderful way. When I was doing “Two and a Half Men”, I was myself going through a divorce, and I brought a lot of that real angst to Alan. You’re in a vulnerable place, and I think Turk would handle that well, actually.

Whether you’re a devoted “Two and a Half Men” enthusiast or just seeking a good laugh, “Extended Family” offers heartwarming humor and unexpected guest appearances. With Cryer and Faison leading the charge, this comedic duo could very well deliver another enduring success. Catch it on NBC every Tuesday at 8:30 pm or stream on Peacock to experience it firsthand.

Dapper Dr Feel

Felipe Patterson aka Dapper Dr. Feel, #BlackLoveConvo & Entertainment | @fdapperdr Dapper Dr. Feel is a Entertainment journalist and member of the Critics Choice Association and African American Film Association.

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