Kat Dennings On New Hulu Comedy ‘Dollface’: ‘As A Woman, You Can Do Anything You Want’
Looking for a new show to binge? Hulu has you covered with its new original 10-episode comedy series Dollface, which debuts Friday, November 15.
For the last five years, Jules Wiley (Kat Dennings) has been totally absorbed by her relationship. When her boyfriend suddenly dumps her, she has to come to terms with the fact that she’s let her female friendships fall apart. She learns that a lot has happened, and changed, since her life pre-boyfriend. And, as she attempts to rekindle old bonds and re-enter the world of women, she gets guidance from an unlikely source.
The smartly-written and brilliantly acted series, created by Jordan Weiss, vacillates between Jules’ extremely active imagination and reality. This show is a unique, clever, fun ride and there isn’t anything else quite like it on television.
And, fans are ready to binge. Parrot Analytics tracked pre-release demand for Dollface to other recently released streaming comedies. It was found that 12 days from their respective Season One launches, U.S. pre-release demand for Dollface is 510% higher than pre-release demand for Pen15, 262% higher than pre-release demand for Fleabag and 162% higher than pre-release demand for Dickinson. The show’s trailer has already been viewed more than six million times on YouTube.
As she navigates her job at a company called Woöm and a quirky “feminist” boss, played by Malin Akerman, Jules does her best to reintegrate into a world of female bonding and nights out with best-friends Stella (Shay Mitchell), Madison (Brenda Song) and work colleague Izzy (Esther Povitsky) as her mind keeps pulling her back into a place where she’s guided by Cat Lady, brilliantly portrayed by Beth Grant.
Dennings spoke with me about her new role and when asked if she’s ever dropped her friends for a guy, or been the dropped friend, she was candid that she is guilty of putting a relationship first. “I have been the one to drop friends sadly and it’s why I was drawn to this show. My character Jules is in her 20s and I’m older now (33) and I’ve been through it. So, doing this show was a bit of re-torturing myself by going back to that time in my younger brain. It really is regrettable, but everyone does this. When you’re in love, it just consumes you. Time, all of a sudden, flies by and friends can be left behind. It is a common thing that happens and it’s what drew me to Dollface.” Dennings confirms she has since made up with her friends.
She also admits to being the dropped friend. “To a degree, I’ve been on the other side but I have more of a personality that is understanding. My closest friends and I have a thing where even if we don’t talk for months, we can just pick up right where we left off. I’m very lucky in that way and I try to understand things like this because when you are in love you just plunge.”
The show is reminiscent of another classic hit about women and relationships, Sex and the City, wherein it was a common conversation to discuss whether one was a Carrie, a Miranda, a Samantha or a Charlotte. In reality, most of us could say we have bits of each within. This rings true for Dollface, as well. Fans are likely to ask themselves if they’re Jules (the boring friend who is a homebody that forces herself to go out), Stella (the fun friend and life of the party), Madison (the bossy friend and drama queen) or Izzy (the crazy and awkward yet extremely lovable friend). Again, fans will likely find bits and pieces of themselves in each. There’s also Cat Lady, which many women can also relate to. She’s very wise indeed.
“It’s a fun thing to watch a show and say, ‘I’m a this and you’re a that’ like we did with Sex and the City and you can do that with Dollface,” says Dennings. She admits to being a lot like her character. “I’ve literally been Jules and I have been through this exact journey and it’s kind of an uncomfortable place to revisit. I am so conscious to be less like that now that I’m older. So, I would say I’m not Jules anymore. I wouldn’t aspire to be a Stella but I might be the Cat Lady.”
She refers to Grant’s hysterical performance as Cat Lady. “This character is so fun for the audience.” When asked if this character represents Jules’ subconscious, all she will say for certain is that the question is somewhat answered in the finale. “It’s really up to the viewer to decide what they think. There is a moment in the final episode that the scale is tipped one way or the other.”
Dennings says she had a lot of questions about Cat Lady during filming. “I really loved this character idea and to me personally, when the writers were crafting this, it seemed like Jules’ subconscious, fantasy world. Cat Lady and Jules have a sort of Calvin and Hobbes type of relationship, so to me, Cat Lady is Jules’ fairy godmother-slash-subconscious that’s guiding her.”
We discussed the negative connotation associated with the cat lady term, which describes a woman who is perpetually alone with only the company of her cats. And, we both admitted to being cat lovers and having feline companions.
“As a fellow cat lady – and why is that term so negative by the way? – I have to say I love being a cat lady! It’s kind of awesome to defy that trope of a woman alone in her house making soup. I think there’s power in being a cat lady. There’s this thing people are threatened by and that’s a woman of a certain age that’s single and comfortable with herself. She’s not going to settle in life and I think there’s a real power in that. It’s a fun thing to play with. As a woman, you can do anything you want! A lot of people need to go on their own journey in life.”
What journey would Dennings like to see Jules experience? “If we get another season (they better!), I’d love to see Jules move away from needing to be with a guy. I was certainly thinking that way too at that time in my life but I want to see her get to that place.”
Grant spoke about playing Cat Lady, a role she couldn’t pass up. “When I got the script, my agent said this one is a little different,” she recalls, laughing out loud. When she heard Dennings was involved, she immediately read the script. “She’s my kind of gal. After reading it, I called my agent back right away and said, ‘I’m in! I am 150% in!’ It was the most unique script I’ve read in years.”
So, who does Grant think Cat Lady is to Jules? “I can’t speak for the writers or producers, but for me, I feel it’s a very metaphysical, spiritual show. I think Cat Lady is her guardian angel and I think guardian angels come in all shapes and sizes. My view of it, maybe on some level Jules is afraid of Cat Lady but she embraces her. Cat Lady guides her to new relationships with women.”
She describes the process of getting in character, explaining there were no prosthetics used: Cat Lady was computer generated. “It was a new kind of freedom! They let me be as wacky with my body movements as I wanted. I was able to bring my all to this role. There are times in life you take a chance. In this case, I followed my heart. I do things I love. I was definitely taking a chance to play a cat!”
Grant is also an admitted real-life cat lady, saying she and her husband at one point had five cats and a dog. “I love that women can be single and have cats and take that back and they’ve reinvented that! I am a cat lady and proud of it! They’re great animals! They’re very affectionate and loving. They just do it on their terms!”
The show is coming at a perfect time as women now have a seat at the table. “Young women are coming along. They’re strong and independent. This show is everything! Laughter is the best way to get to people, that’s how you start a revolution. I’m an old feminist. I burned my bra! I, literally, was a bra burner. This show is a gift to young women!”
If this show is to send a message, Dennings has one in mind. “For me playing Jules, the thing I took away is that this is kind of a snapshot, a cautionary tale. There are a lot of branches on the Dollface tree as each of these women go through their own things, but the ultimate takeaway is that there’s really no love story like the one you have with your friends. Our show focuses on female friendships, but it’s certainly not limited. I’ve had amazing male friendships, too. The message is to really nourish the close friendships in your life. There’s such an unconditional love there and you may actually find that you don’t need a romantic relationship to be happy. Try to honor your friendships as much as you do an exciting new love prospect.”
Weiss and Dennings serve as executive producers alongside showrunner Ira Ungerleider, Margot Robbie, Brett Hedblom and Tom Ackerley for LuckyChap Entertainment, Bryan Unkeless and Scott Morgan for Screen Arcade and Nicole King and Stephanie Laing (Vice Principals). Laing also directed multiple episodes of the series. Matt Spicer (Ingrid Goes West) executive produced and directed the first episode. Dollface is produced by ABC Signature Studios, part of Disney Television Studios.