Happy Together tells the story of a famous pop star that ends up living with a suburban couple in an effort to live an ordinary life. It may be just a wacky concept for a sitcom, but for executive producer Ben Winston the story hits close to home…very close to home.
During the CBS session at TCA Sunday, Winston was joined on the stage by sitcom stars Felix Mallard, Damon Wayans Jr., and Amber Stevens West as well as executive producers Tim McAuliffe and Austen Earl. Winston shared his story about how One Direction band member Harry Styles lived in the attic of his London home. Styles was supposed to stay for two weeks but then ended up setting up shop at their abode for 18 months. Winston said that although his experience with Styles wasn’t as eventful as many may think, it would provide for a good story for a sitcom.
McAuliffe said when they first heard the idea for the show, they were afraid of making it predictable, campy and fall into the “crazy rockstar guy on the couch with an electric guitar” zone. “We tried to make it more of a family show similar to an Odd Couple situation.”
“What happened with Harry and I is just the concept,” added Winston. “Fundamentally, what you’re looking at is a mid-30s couple losing their youth and they are seeing the epitome of youth” with Mallard’s pop star character. He said that it is very much a story about a guy in the public eye seeking normalcy and a suburban couple seeking some excitement in their lives.
“The show is about relationships and relatability and the sort of family these three people make,” said Wayans, Jr.
Mallard chimed in, “He’s relishing in an ordinary life — when he’s with these people, he’s loving it.” He added, “He gives this married couple some excitement — they bring something to each other.”
West said that Mallard’s Cooper James always makes you happy — like a human Labrador. “When you see him and he’s fun to have around,” she said.
When it comes to looking down the road for the sitcom, Earl said that like Winston’s relationship with Styles, Happy Together the relationship between Wayans, Jr. & West and Cooper was a sort of an experiment that ended up as a family and he definitely sees them living together for a long time — maybe two or three seasons.
As much as it seems like it is a show about an atypical roommate situation, Winston said its more than that. “The show is about marriage, it’s about getting a bit older and youthfulness,” he said. “It’s about something happening and how you deal with it — and it’s about family.”
Written by McAuliffe and Earl and directed by Phill Lewis, Happy Together revolves around Peter (Wayans) and Claire (West), a thirtysomething couple who are tired of their mundane life and start to reconnect with their younger, cooler selves when an emerging pop star (Mallard), who is drawn to their super-normal suburban life, moves in. Cast also includes Stephnie Weir and Chris Parnell.
McAuliffe and Earl executive produce with Winston via Fulwell 73, Styles and 3 Arts Entertainment’s Michael Rotenberg and Jonathan Berry.
Happy Together premieres on Monday, Oct. 1.