Britbox, BBC and ITV’s streaming service, made its second pit stop at TCA today following January’s sesh, and one of the intriguing takeaways was the comedy series Bliss from Mr. Show creator and star David Cross.
Bliss follows Andrew (Stephen Mangan), a successful travel writer who lives two different lives, with two different wives and families. Boogie Nights’ Heather Graham plays one partner Kim with whom Andrew has a teenage daughter while Jo Hartley plays his second other Denise with whom he has a teenage son. Andrew’s worlds become hard to contain. Insanity ensues.
Cross, who was a no-show today at TCA (he’s on tour with a show tonight in Ottawa), developed the show after reading a story about a man with two families who finally got caught. After doing more research, Cross learned that there are many men who lived double lives, particularly in the UK. When did they get busted by their better halves? Usually when the guy got sick. Stoked by the high stakes about a man living a lie for 16 years of his life, Cross pitched the idea of a man being one person in one room, and another in another ala Three’s Company or William Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
Cross wanted a comedic actor in the lead and was drawn to Mangan’s talent of balancing sympathy, pathos and vulnerability. Graham was a get given her finesse with playing breezy as well as internalizing the pain of a woman whose agoraphobia is being taken advantage of by her cheating husband.
Graham, who is no stranger to British comedy having played Felicity Shagwell in Mike Myers’ satire Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, told the TCA press corps today that Cross’ humor “is very witty and intellectual and that’s why people like David in England.”
Mangan adds that the Mr. Show creator “has a British sensibility — this is pitch black comedy and he’s not afraid to go there, he’s not afraid to push the buttons and ask awkward questions.”