With short-form comedy series Flipped, Kaitlin Olson was afforded the opportunity to get involved with the Quibi platform at its inception, jumping at the chance to play the kind of self-involved, heightened character for which she’s become well known.
Directed by Ryan Case, the series centers on Jann (Will Forte) and Cricket Melfi (Olson), a chronically underemployed couple, who have proclaimed themselves home renovation experts, with total confidence that they are TV’s next great home design celebrity duo. While working on their application for a competition that would allow them to realize their dreams, the pair stumble on hidden cartel money, within one of their fixer-uppers, and subsequently, they are forced to design homes for the leaders of a drug cartel.
Sharing scenes in the comedy with Arturo Castro, Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria, the actress left the shoot with a new appreciation for the opportunities to be found in short-form storytelling.
Below, the actress reflects on the highlights of her time with Flipped and her first Emmy nomination, offering also some details about the forthcoming 15th season of her beloved FXX comedy, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
DEADLINE: How did you come to star in Flipped? What was it that drew you to the series?
KAITLIN OLSON: I got a call from my agent saying that Jeffrey Katzenberg would like me to do this series for this thing called Quibi, and they wanted me to come in so they could explain what that even meant. I went in, and I honestly thought it was really cool. This is back before people were locked into their houses. It made a lot of sense to have a platform where you could take six to 10 minutes, waiting in a doctor’s office, or waiting to pick up your kids, or on a break, looking at your phone for something other than social media, and actually watching good programming. So, I was really excited about that, and I loved the script, and I loved that I would be working with Will Forte. So, it was kind of a no-brainer for me.
DEADLINE: Are home renovation shows something you watch personally?
OLSON: I’m not someone who watches home renovation shows, but [my husband] Rob [McElhenney] and I had just finished building our house that we currently live in. So, I’m very into home renovation.
DEADLINE: Cricket is a character in the vein of those you’ve played on shows like It’s Always in Philadelphia and The Mick—a narcissistic type with big dreams and limited self-awareness. What do you enjoy about playing characters like these?
OLSON: I really like picking a quality and making it as big as possible without tipping over into cartoon, ‘This is not a real person’-land, and there’s something so funny to me about either a deeply insecure person, like [It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s] Dee was, or a deeply confident person like Cricket, with zero evidence to back up why she should be confident about these decisions.
That just makes me laugh, and I really tried to make Cricket different from Dee and [The Mick’s] Mickey in that, yes, they’re very heightened, but she was really sweet and more of a very frantic, high-butterfly energy, and overly positive. Whereas Dee and Mickey are pretty negative. I like finding the faults in these characters and things that make them vulnerable, and then just really going for it, and watching how that can make their lives implode.
DEADLINE: What was it like working with your co-stars and director Ryan Case?
OLSON: It was great. As soon as we sat down to the table read and read it together, it just became really clear that this was going to be a very fast, easy shoot. It just clicked right away. Will is so unbelievably talented and funny, and kind and gracious, and just a fun person to be around, so we shot it like a movie, in four weeks, and it was awesome.
Ryan, I was so glad that she was our director. I loved meeting her. I loved that she has an editing background, which always makes things so much easier. I just fully trusted her. Sometimes, you do projects with brand new people, and you kind of feel in your head. You’re also sort of checking out what the DP is doing, and you feel a little responsibility to sort of stay on top of everything. It was nice to let that go because it was very clear that she knew what she was doing, and she was great at her job.
DEADLINE: Obviously, in short-form, you’re packing a lot of story into a compressed time frame. So, was Flipped tightly scripted? Or was there room for improvisation?
OLSON: I mean, the script was very well written, or I wouldn’t have said yes to it. So, we stuck to the script very much. But in the moment, as you’re having a dialogue with someone, if you have an idea, you kind of just go with it. So, we would tweak things here and there, and I certainly added some stuff. But for the most part, we stuck to the script, and just had little moments of making it our own.
DEADLINE: Were there particular highlights or memorable moments from the shoot?
OLSON: First of all, we were out in Acton, California in the summertime, and those ridiculous outfits that are so amazing that we were wearing were very hot. There were times when Will was decked out in denim on top of denim, on top of a denim coat, draped over his shoulders, and we’re standing out in the 100 degree sun, just dripping wet, having to stop so that we can be mopped down. It was hilarious, because the whole thing was kind of just ridiculous.
DEADLINE: What do you enjoy about working within the short-form space?
OLSON: I don’t think that I would ever want to do a series that was more than 10 episodes, just for my own personal boredom. I always want to leave people wanting more; I want to watch something being left wanting more. I don’t want to bore myself. I’ll get tired of doing something for a while and want to move on and do a different kind of character. That’s why Sunny is so great. We do 10 episodes, and then we take a couple of years off, and then we’re so excited to come back and do another episode. I definitely have great appreciation for that. I can’t imagine being on a 22 [episode] series anymore.
DEADLINE: Has there been talk of more seasons of Flipped?
OLSON: There has been talk about another season, and then everybody went into quarantine, so I don’t really know what the specifics are. I don’t know what’s going on with the world. I don’t know what’s going on with my children going back to school in a month, so I’m the wrong person to ask. I’m just over here, making dinners and lunches and snacks. You know, come to me if you need some food. [Laughs]
DEADLINE: Have you been able to find ways to stay creatively engaged in quarantine?
OLSON: Honestly, I’m cooking like crazy. I spend all day planning like a gourmet, delicious meal. It’s my one creative outlet, besides obviously my kids, who I am coming up with new ways to entertain all day long. Then, Rob and I try and come up with fun Instagram inspirations, and I guess that sort of satisfies it for a day or two. But no, I really am very much looking forward to going back to work, in whatever capacity that means next.
DEADLINE: What did it mean to you to earn your first Emmy nomination for Flipped?
OLSON: Now, I’m really honored. At the time I was so blindsided, because the Emmys haven’t been on my radar at all, but certainly not this year, because I was in pandemic mode. So when I first got the text from my publicist, I laughed. I was like, “Oh, I can’t wait to tell Rob. This will be hilarious, that I got nominated for something other than Sunny.” It really was only when he was excited for me that I was like, “Oh right, I guess this is very cool.” So my first response was strange, but now I’ve embraced it, and I’m so flattered and honored. Listen, I love doing my job. I love making people laugh. I don’t need the recognition, but it certainly feels really nice.
DEADLINE: Ironically, you’re getting the validation that your characters tend to crave.
OLSON: Yes, that’s right. I don’t need that, but they do. So it’s all full circle.
DEADLINE: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has been renewed for a 15th season? Can you share where you’re at with that, and when we can expect it?
OLSON: I’m very excited. Rob actually had just started shooting Season 2 of Mythic Quest when everything got shut down, so in quarantine, they finished writing Season 2. They just got the green light to go back to shooting in September, so they’re going to finish that season, and then as soon as that is finished shooting, they’ll start writing Season 15 of Sunny. So it won’t be till next year, but hopefully people wear their masks, and we can get back to work, and I can shoot Sunny next year.