By Jill Jacobs
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former “Friends” star Lisa Kudrow is back on television this coming Tuesday in Showtime’s new series, “Web Therapy,” — the first time a show created for the Internet has moved to a 30-minute comedy on television.
Kudrow, who won an Emmy and two Screen Actors Guild awards for her portrayal of ditsy masseuse Phoebe Buffay on “Friends,” plays Dr. Fiona Wallice in this new program. Wallice is a self-involved online therapist who attempts to solve her patient’s issues in three-minute Web sessions.
Reuters spoke to Kudrow about the show she helped create in 2008, her own skills as a therapist, and her interest in evolutionary biology.
Preview “Web Therapy”:
[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/tv/Web-Therapy/171516/2029729174/Web-Therapy%3A-Paranoia/embed 580 476]
In “Web Therapy” you play a therapist who believes the ’50-minute hour’ traditional therapy gives people too much room to talk about irrelevant things. How do you think this show will resonate with viewers?
I’m hoping they think it’s really funny. It’s funny behavior, inappropriate.
How much of the show is improvised?
Writer-director Don Roos and actor Dan Bucatinsky and I write the outlines and then the actors improvise from that. The entire show is improvised based on the outlines.
How did you come up with the idea for the show?
I had the initial idea a while ago when I thought how funny it would be if people were busy and at work and didn’t have a lot of time for stuff and they started doing therapy online, three-minute sessions. At least they can say, ‘No, I’m in therapy and I’m working on it,’ even though it’s completely ineffective since it’s on the Web and only for three minutes.
What’s funny is that your character has limited tolerance for other people’s problems. How would you feel about having a therapist like Fiona?
I wouldn’t want her. In therapy, it would be nice if it were about me. I think for a handful of people, some of the things she says do make sense. Sometimes I could see saying, ‘Knock it off’ to a patient. But I don’t think therapists are allowed to say that.
Is there someone you modeled the character after?
I picked from a bunch of different, horrible people just for their impatience, mostly politicians. It’s a composite of different people. For the actual character, there is someone that I am thinking of who is very poised, elegant, beautiful, smart and this is a real person that I know and I figure that’s how Fiona sees herself.
What kind of therapist do you think you’d be?
I think I’d be kind of good. But I could probably handle only one patient. I can’t listen all day to this. Part of me sometimes feels, ‘All right, get over it. Your parents tried their best. Now what? Nothing criminal happened. Now you’re an adult, (it’s) time to make up your own mind.’
If you weren’t an actress, you’d be…
I would probably be doing some kind of research in some specific field of evolutionary biology. That’s what I studied in college, at Vassar.