EXCLUSIVE : LOUDERMILK Season 2 Scoop: Interview With Ron Livingston

The wacky and wondrous world of the AT&T comedy series LOUDERMILK is a surprising experience. It is like dipping your toes into the pool and happily discovering that it is much warmer than expected. Premised around a recovering alcoholic who leads a sobriety support group, LOUDERMILK is not what you expect. Part cantankerous alcoholic and part rebellious ex-music critic, the lead character Sam Loudermilk (expertly portrayed by Ron Livingston) is a lovable, warm-hearted guy who fights to stay sober and who has discovered that the secret to staying sober just might be in helping others fight for their sobriety.

It’s not perfect, but as a coping-mechanism and success-strategy is does seem to work in LOUDERMILK. Subscribing to the classic “misery loves company” theory, Loudermilk and his merry band of misfits astoundingly work as a semi-dysfunctional sobriety team, who hold each other accountable for their misdeeds and missteps, while providing an unyielding anchor in the daily struggle to fight the urge and routine of seeking solace in the bottle and resisting the siren call of drinking into oblivion.

After a tumultuous and zany first season that ended with Loudermilk discovering that his best-friend, roommate, and sober-sponsor was marrying Loudermilk’s ex-wife and a predictable knee-jerk sober relapse in response, Season 2 picks up with Loudermilk searching for another way to re-establish his grasp on sobriety after having everything he thought he could count on was ripped away.

In an exclusive interview from the set, Ron Livingston talks about where Season 2 finds Sam Loudermilk and what is coming that helps Loudermilk find his sobriety-footing in a world unwilling to make it easy for him.

In Season 2, is there going to be a time jump, or are you guys picking right up where you left off in the Season 1 finale?
RON: There’s a time jump of, I believe, one or two months.

So there is some time to let the dust settle? Things were pretty heated at the end of Season 1.
RON: Yeah, there’s a little bit of time. We kind of start with the aftermath of that. And kind of the dust has settled a little bit, but we still have to kind of look around and survey the landscape, and do a little damage control report.

Where do we kind of pick up with your character, Sam? Has he got his group back? I mean it looked like he was trying to get it back even though they lost their weekly meeting place.
RON: We address that in the first episode. I think the general theme of the first season was: “things coming unglued, everything kind of coming apart.” And I feel like the general theme of the second season is: “picking up the pieces.” We’ve got to pick up the pieces with Allison (Laura Mennell). We’re picking up the pieces with the group. We’re picking up the pieces with his career — later on in the season he starts trying to get back into writing again. Yeah, it’s all about kind of putting it back together. But we got to earn it first. You know what I mean? We can’t just jump right back into it. So we really take a lot of the whole season to kind of heal some of the bigger wounds.

I think there was just really one big wound, the destroyed friendship with Ben (Will Sasso). Is that going to be considered irreparable, or are they going to find their footing as friends again?
RON: Yeah, that was a tough one. You know, without spoiling it, I’ll say that Ben at some point in the season shows up again. And then Loudermilk’s got to kind of deal with: how does he feel about that? And how much does he even want to have a relationship with this guy anymore?

Even though everything is blown apart at the end of the first season, it seemed like Loudermilk had a game plan and he had set his sights on what he wanted to do.
RON: You know, some of it was reactive because I think he was just kind of ripping things out by the roots, everything that didn’t work for him. But then a lot of times, you’re just left with you — and all you have is an empty patch of dirt. So you look at that and go, “Okay now what do I do?”

Loudermilk seemed to want to take the next step with Allison. That’s step in the right direction.
RON: He did, yeah. We get into that right away. Things are not going as swimmingly as we might hope on a TV show. But they’re going about as swimmingly as they would probably go in real life. So there’s some work to be done there. It was a pretty impulsive way to end the season for the two of them. And I don’t think we lose sight of the fact of the impulsivity of it. And now they’ve got to say, “Okay so what are we really doing here?”

One of the things I took away from the first season is that, for Loudermilk, it seems like the way his coping-mechanism is calling everybody else on their shit and that’s how he maintains his sobriety. Is he really clinging to that still, or does he come up with a different strategy?
RON: No. I mean that’s a big part of who he is. And it’s hard. I get the feeling with the Loudermilk that he turns those guns on himself. He’s every bit as critical of himself as he is of other people. With the exception he seems to always think he’s right about everything. But I think a lot of the sobriety came from his ability to kind of look honestly and critically at what he was doing with his life, and then realize and make the change that it’s not how he wanted it to be. But I would say that we kind of broached the issues in the second season of: “Okay, when is just that critical faculty? Where do you hit the limit of where that’s not enough?” And I think we introduced the idea at some point that he’s trying to write again, and he’s not writing music criticism, he wants to write something like a novel. Maybe it’s a nonfiction memoir or something. And he’s immediately up against the fact: there’s got to be another energy than just the critic that wants to tear everything down.

Has he figured out that that’s another form of addiction yet?
RON: I don’t think he’s figured that out. No, he hasn’t figured that out at all. I think, if anything, he’s still kind of in denial. I think he really kind of believes the role of critic in society is kind of a sacred one. You know what I mean? Probably to a fault. But he’s going to bump up against that.

Has Claire (Anja Savcic) moved on at this point? It seems like she’s also another crutch that Loudermilk might be relying on.
RON: Claire’s around for a good bit, really most of the season. But she’s doing really well. Her life is coming back together. Yeah, so she’s definitely around.

It seems like Loudermilk looks at people in his life as ways to stabilize his own life and he has these different people that he draws energy from in different ways.
RON: Yeah. The Claire relationship is one of my favorite relationships in this show, because it started so combatively and kind of loggerheads. But it’s really kind of, by the end of the season, he’s starting to find himself pretty fond of her. And he’s proud of her, and she’s doing really well. She’s a positive influence in his life. But he sort of begrudgingly doesn’t necessarily want to cop to that or admit it. But you definitely get the sense that Claire is kind of starting to become family. And that’s a funny position to see Loudermilk in, because you don’t see him really as being like that.

We haven’t seen any other family around him. So it’s really just this homemade family he’s collected.
RON: Yeah. It’s hard to see him being close with people — familial with anybody really.

Well, his groups acts like a family.
RON: His group, that’s true.

That’s like his quasi-brothers and uncles — all those people you maybe don’t want in your life, but you’re stuck with.
RON: Yeah, right. They’re like a cobbled together carnival family a little bit.

So what would you like to share for everybody who’s looking forward to Season 2?
RON: You know, I think if you liked Season 1, you’re going to like Season 2 even more. My favorite thing about this year has been we’ve broadened the scope of it a little bit. We’ve gotten to know the guys in the group well enough at this point that we can go off and see their storylines outside of the room of the group. And that kind of takes us to different places and we get to know them even better. Those guys are fantastic. They’re just some great performances that happen this year, some really funny stuff. Whereas last year, we got maybe a little slice and a little taste of who these people were. Now they’re kind of blossoming into people.

I think there’s is not only like a healing cathartic process for them to admit their faults, but it also admits they need other people in ways that maybe their own families don’t satisfy for them. Because these people all get where they’re coming from.
RON: Yeah. They’re definitely that. I think that’s absolutely an issue with any kind of 12 step or recovery group. That it’s a shared experience. It’s the shared goals and it’s the shared acceptance of themselves and each other. Although, all of those things I think are extremely hard fought. It’s not like they happen automatically. They have to fight for it every single day.

What appeals to you about this particular role for you? What do you enjoy?
RON: I love it. This is like, I mean this is like a gift, because first of all, I love the language of it. I love the fact that we can go as far as we do, and taking a guy that has no filter and we’re not trying to make him likable, he doesn’t have to be “likable.” So he can be kind of venal and — what’s the word? Just a crotchety old misanthrope, basically. But, at the end of the day, it’s still compelling, because he and the other characters on the show. They’re really trying their best, even when their best isn’t very good. And it’s fun to play both of those things.

You have created a warm show. I don’t know if you intended it to be that way, but you’ve made it welcoming. And it’s welcomed these unusual characters and they understand they need each other in some weird way. The show itself has invited the audience to be walking along with them, which is very nice actually.
RON: Yeah. A lot of that comes from Pete [Farrelly] and Bobby [Mort] , they’re both just very big-hearted, open-hearted guys. And a lot of the people that work on the show are friends of theirs that they’ve known for years. The set has that kind of feeling of everybody who comes to work there is kind of welcome, and embraced. And what that does is it gives you a little — you get to be meaner and make fun of your brothers and sisters because you have that kind of love that’s gluing it all together. It really gives us the freedom to go hard at each other.

It’s always with a wink and a smile.
RON: Yeah, exactly. It’s a little bit with a wink and a smile. And if at some point, we get where it feels like it’s just a little too hurtful, there’s usually a reason for that that we end up having to address in the script. It’s usually a sign that, “okay, something’s going wrong here. What’s going on?”

You don’t want your audience crying.
RON: A little bit, on and off.

Crying with tears of joy, not crying tears of frustration.
RON: That’s right. Yeah, I think there’s something about the metaphor of recovery. There’s something deeply profound about it because the stakes are so high, and it cuts to the heart of just people trying to have some kind of control and enjoyment of their life. But, on a comic level, it’s great too because there’s that whole comic thing where every time you build the sand castle up, the wave comes in and knocks it down. The recovery idea of, “let’s take it one day at a time, you never win.” You don’t ever win, you just basically keep moving forward.

An LOUDERMILK is not just about coping, it’s about hope, which is a little unusual for recovery show.
RON: Yeah, it is. I mean, ultimately, we really want everybody to make it and we hope that everybody will.

With the promise that while every day is tough, there will be someone there to help you through it, LOUDERMILK really delivers a laugh out-loud comedy nestle amongst a relatable story of a guy making it one day at a time with a bunch of folks who get it and yet they will always be there for each other, no matter what insanity life throws at them. To see how Sam Loudermilk fares with his ill-timed romance with Allison, his quest for a new meeting space for his sobriety group, and if he will ever find a place where he can forgive Ben, do not miss the Season 2 premiere of LOUDERMILK on Tuesday, October 16th at 10:00 p.m. exclusively on Audience Network on DirectTV.

LOUDERMILK Season 2 trailer: