Having her first recurring TV role on a third-season cable series is probably enough to keep Caitlin Fitzgerald busy, but the Masters of Sex star has another first this year. As a first-time Emmy voter, Fitzgerald is juggling playing the long-suffering wife of a sex researcher with digging through hundreds of Emmy-worthy series before she casts her first ballot.
“I’m watching a lot of TV,” Fitzgerald says with a laugh. “It’s such an exciting time to be in television, and despite stiff competition, I feel privileged to be on the show and to be part of this conversation that’s happening. The kind of storytelling that’s going on in TV is thrilling.”
Also known for film roles in this year’s indie comedy Adult Beginners and 2009’s It’s Complicated, Fitzgerald is still in production as Libby Masters on the Showtime series, which debuts July 12, so she’s been relegated to watching on the weekends. And she definitely has some favorites.
“I just finished Game of Thrones,” she says. “I loved Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. And it actually made me go back and start rewatching 30 Rock. Tina Fey’s sense of humor is so strange and wonderful. I’m watching Orange Is the New Black, and I’m really excited to watch Transparent. I’m trying to at least see some shows from each network and spread the love.”
Although the Emmy submissions in comedy are down about 6% from last year, the drama category is up nearly a third, which means sampling is the only reasonable way to keep up. Fitzgerald also compares notes with her TV-writer boyfriend.
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“At the end of the day, it’s sort of like, ‘Is it good storytelling?’ And we seem to agree about what is and isn’t good storytelling,” she explains.
Good storytelling is also what keeps her enthusiastic about Masters of Sex. Much of the series is based on Thomas Maier’s 2009 book, most of which focuses on the work and relationship of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, leaving out many of the details of Libby and Bill’s troubled marriage. That leaves Fitzgerald and the writers a lot of room for imagining how a woman in that time frame would deal with the complexities of a husband who’s unfaithful in the name of science.
“What does a woman in this time really do as a divorcee with three kids? The situation she’s found herself in is intense,” the actress says. “She’s very direct this season. She’s speaking her mind more and more.”
Seeing the change in Libby has been fun for Fitzgerald, particularly now that she’s developed a history with the character.
“Instead of having to invent a backstory as the character, you’ve actually done it all. So there’s this richness and resonance that starts to happen each season,” she explains. “(For example), I have an image in my head from the day that we shot the party scene, and this is the dress I was wearing, and this was what it felt like to be there. So it just feels deeper.”
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