Thursdays at 8:30 PM Eastern / 7:30 PM Central,
Premieres October 3
In 2000, then the father of young children in Los Angeles, Greg Garcia co-created CBS’ long-running couples-and-kids sitcom Yes, Dear. A few years earlier, the Washington, DC area native had co-authored a comedy set in the nation’s capital. Now, Garcia has made The Millers, about two generations of a family, simultaneously experiencing divorces. But this time, he’s quick to point out that this one springs, for the most part, from his imagination.
In Garcia’s latest, Nathan Miller (Will Arnett), a recently divorced roving news reporter, is looking forward to the single life, although not necessarily to divulging his change in marital status to his visiting parents, controlling Carol (Margo Martindale) and absent-minded Tom (Beau Bridges.) But Nathan needn’t have worried; because rather than being shocked, his parents, particularly Tom, are inspired. When Mom and Dad then themselves split, Carol crashes with her boy, and begins an emotional breakdown that threatens to cramp his style.
“This is a fictional version of my family,” Garcia avows. “But my parents are exactly like these two – they’ll kill me for saying that, but they are. They love each other, but give each other grief.” Both Garcia and his parents are still happily married; so in creating this new sitcom clan, much in the tradition of CBS’ successful family comedies like Everybody Loves Raymond, “I wondered, ‘What would happen if I didn’t have children, and was divorced, and if my parents got divorced and had to live with me and my sister?’ [The sister, by the way, played here by the quirky, fun Jayma Mays.] So The Millers ended up being based on us as real characters, but in this fictional premise.”
Garcia has become an expert in nontraditional family dynamics, from the oddball Hickey brothers in his My Name Is Earl to the financially challenged clan at the center of Raising Hope. With The Millers, the writer says he wanted to preserve that flavor of comedic dysfunction, while creating a more traditional type of comedy, complete with audience laughter. “And to get that classic feel, of a Raymond or an All in the Family,” he explains, “you’ve got to get a great cast.”
So Garcia personally recruited Arnett, and immediately thought of JB Smoove to play Ray, Nathan’s coworker and cameraman. Martindale, who won an Emmy for her villainous role on Justified and more recently appeared in the dramas The Americans and Showtime’s upcoming Masters of Sex, here “does a comedy star turn that is pretty remarkable,” marvels CBS President Nina Tassler. And the actress is happy for the change of pace. With The Millers, “this is a joy I haven’t gotten to experience in a while,” Martindale says. “I’m exercising an old muscle, and it’s coming back.”
When it came to casting Tom, Garcia reached out to Bridges, who had played the senior Mr. Hickey on Earl and was happy to work again with that show’s mastermind. As Bridges prepared for The Millers, “I asked my wife at breakfast, ‘How would you describe this show?’” the actor reveals. “And she said, ‘It’s just a typical American family.’ Because we all have challenges. But underneath it all, there is a caring and a love in this show, and that comes from Greg Garcia. He always writes comedy with a heart.”