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, executive producers Bobby Farrelley and Bobby Mort talk about where Season 2 finds Sam Loudermilk and the rest of his sobriety-crew.
What is the plan for Loudermilk, Claire (Anja Savic) and Ben (Will Sasso) in Season 2?
Bobby Farrelly: I think the main thing that’s happening this season is that all the peripheral characters around Loudermilk, it’s sort of like the time for them to have their story arcs, like all the other people in the recovery group — there’s some real characters in there and in the episodes, each one of those other people have their own storyline that they follow. Of course, it always affects Loudermilk and the Ben character, played by Will Sasso, and then Claire’s character, played by Anja [Savcic]. So it effects them just because they’re all in the group together, but it’s kind of like it’s the other people’s year. More than we did in Season 1. We introduced those people, but now you can get to learn more about their lives and what’s going on. Actually, I think it’s been very funny because there’s some real characters in the group.
So we see Loudermilk and Claire outside the apartment a bit more then?
Bobby Farrelly: Feels that way. It’s a little less inside Loudermilk’s apartment. We’re filming here in Vancouver in the summer now, so it’s nice to be outside. Unlike last time, they were filming it was in the spring and I think they said it rained or snowed every single day but one. It was just harder to get out just story-wise. But now it’s like we’re here at this time of year, so it opens up a little bit, I think.
Loudermilk’s sobriety group is also uprooted and they’re out of their normal environment, so maybe they’re a little bit more transitory and they can get out and about “feeling their oats a little bit” and with the attitude, “hey, we’re feeling good in our recovery.” Yet they also seem to to be delving into their self-discovery and the fact that each needs to have a touchstone — and it can’t be your sponsor because your sponsor’s not always around and they have got to find one thing in their life that’s their touchstone and keeps them on balance.
Bobby Farrelly: That’s true, yep. And for these people their touchstone is Loudermilk. That’s what’s fun about the show is because Loudermilk is definitely a flawed character in that he has a very short wick. He makes life difficult for himself because he never lets anything slide when he meets people on the street and so he’s always tangling with people. But he has a huge heart and he’s there for all those other people and he is their rock, so he’s an interesting three dimensional character.
If he’s their touchstone, what would be his?
Bobby Farrelly: That’s a good question. I think his is the world of music, which he knows very well since he was a critic. I think that there’s something about him that knows music better than most people and he takes some comfort in that. Also in his relationship with these fractured individuals that he’s able to help. I think that as he helps them, he’s helping himself too and he’s getting closer to being whole again. I think he was fractured at the beginning of Season 1 since he had gone through a lot of stuff.
They all seem to need somebody to need them. They can’t just be on their own. It’s not that they need other people, but they need somebody to rely on them in order to maintain that sobriety.
Bobby Farrelly: Yeah, well that’s probably true about people in general. I mean it’s hard to be a person that doesn’t need anyone, right? So I think we all do, but yeah these guys definitely do for their sobriety because they know that they can’t do it on their own. And I think that’s one of the tenants of the 12 Step Program. You have to ask the higher power to help you and then you also have your meeting group too. So I think that that’s what it’s about. Everyone is taught that don’t try to do it on your own. It’s an insidious disease.
Then how does Ben fit back into that? It can’t be an easy fit after what happened at the end of Season 1.
Bobby Farrelly: Well, Ben really screwed over Loudermilk in Season 1. But I think the reason why he did was because he personally fell in love and that’s always something that’s hard to forgive. He thought he did, but it was because he was drinking. He just made a lot of bad decisions because he had slipped and he was lying to everyone and it came up and it bit him in the ass. So that is what it is. But I think he was having fun with it, and he found someone who he thought he was in love with and he got married and then all that. But it didn’t last very long. They weren’t meant for each other.
Since she is now Loudermilk’s and Ben’s ex-wife, what happens to her?
Bobby Farrelly: We don’t see her this season, which is not to say that she won’t resurface. That’s what’s fun about the way they write the show, as characters do come and go, but it feels like they can all sort of come back, because it is a lot of interesting characters. In this season, a couple of characters came up and I just kept thinking, “We gotta get them back next year.” So it is that show that has a memory and it’s not like what happens in one episode has no bearing on other episodes. I like the fact that there’s people that will come and go in Loudermilk.
One of my favorite guest stars in Season 1 was Lizzy (Emma Tremblay), the little girl who knew way too much about music.
Bobby Farrelly: Yeah, she was very funny and she put Loudermilk in his place and he had it coming, because he’s a critic, so he’s accustomed to be the one dishing it out.
He made the silly assumption that because she’s a kid she doesn’t know anything.
Bobby Farrelly: Don’t assume, right? But she was a whipper-snapper, so I got a kick out of that too.
As Carl’s niece, Lizzy could still be around.
Bobby Farrelly: Right. We didn’t see much of her either this year. We did a little bit, but there’s not so much in the storylines. But, I think it’ll all change again. It’s fun. It’s an interesting show. As each episode goes by and as we film each episode, it feels like it springs more to life and it grows into something.
It feels like you guys are using a kaleidoscope method — you just shift the kaleidoscope and it changes the picture just a little bit. It’s all the same elements.
Bobby Farrelly: That’s an interesting analogy, I like that.
It makes for an interesting story because life is a little bit like that. It’s all the people around you shifting as their stories change.
Bobby Farrelly: That’s correct. That’s interesting.
It seems to suit their colorful world.
Bobby Farrelly: It is colorful. But I think we did some funny stuff this year. My favorite part of the show is that there is a blend of silly comedy, but also there’s spot on human drama, too, and it’s real stuff. And that’s where all the recovery and all that — you can’t just joke about that. There has to be a reality to it. So it’s a nice blend of drama and comedy, and that’s my favorite way to do it. You just want to try to keep it close to something that could happen in real life. Now with comedy obviously you exaggerate things. The more based it is in real things that could happen, the better. Just exaggerate the comedy, but there’s gotta be a hint of reality to it.
What would you say the theme is for Season 2?
Bobby Mort: I think Season 2’s theme is sort of self-reflection — whether you like it or not, and in Loudermilk’s case, he can help all these other people, but when he turns focus back on himself, it’s like, “I have a lot more problems than I would ever want to admit.” And he has a really hard time getting outside of himself to help himself.
It seemed like the Season 1 finale was a big wake up call that he hadn’t been paying attention to himself.
Bobby Mort: Exactly. I think he’s sort of being forced to confront a lot of things that he’s able to — as long as he’s helping other people, he feels like, “I’m good. I’m doing my thing” — but as soon as he has to try to fix himself, he sees he’s got a long way to go.
One of the things that occurred to me watching this when I rewatched it was that that’s kind of his new addiction, is helping other people.
Bobby Mort: That’s a really good point. Yeah, he’s replaced all the energy of getting drunk or getting high with that, which is like trying to fix the world.
So to maintain his own sobriety, he clings to other people and their problems, because it just takes his mind off his own.
Bobby Mort: Absolutely. That’s very true. I think he doesn’t see that. And I think that’s a really important thing for him to learn.
In that sense, Claire was kind of a lifeline. He didn’t know it at the time, but he was going to lose his best friend under horrible circumstances. But it kind of gave him somebody to fall back upon, somebody else who needed him that was right there.
Bobby Mort: Right, exactly. And I think he realized at the end of Season 1, that she really was there for him the whole time. He thought he was helping her, but she was helping him and that continues on in this season. But, without too many spoiler alerts, they end up parting ways and then they realize, “I really do need [him/her]” and “we care about each other.” For Loudermilk, for all his his tough exterior, beneath it is very soft, loving kind of person and I think he doesn’t like that.
Yet he is kind of like a care-taker. I think he care-takes others as a way of coping. It makes him feel like he’s doing something not just for the world, but for himself as kind of a dual-purpose thing.
Bobby Mort: Exactly. He dislikes being vulnerable, which is why he lashes out. He doesn’t have those tools. And it’s trouble for him.
Another important dynamic is the group. And Loudermilk seems to want to claim a stake with his group no matter where they were going to be in the last season. So what’s going on with the group this season?
Bobby Mort: This season, when we meet them in the top of Season 2, they’re in the a store room at the Sounds & Grounds record store and they’re sort of maintaining these meetings, but it’s not working. It’s too small. It’s cramped. Everyone together is like, this is not the same, and over the course of even our first episode, one of the things that they talk about is things that are working for you and things that aren’t working for you. And they decide this isn’t working for them. They have to get back. So they just kind of go hand-in-hand back to the church. Everyone kind of convinces Father Michael (Eric Keenelyside) to let them back in, because it’s better for the group. It’s nothing between the two of them. It’s for the health of other people. That kind of wins. And that’s also a theme of the second season: forgiveness and forgiving other people, forgiving yourself, and being able to move beyond these grudges and carrying that stuff with you. It’s really important to drop it off so you can move ahead.
I don’t know. What Ben did was pretty unforgivable. That was a pretty big betrayal.
Bobby Mort: It really is. And I think what we have is that we have Ben really trying to make it up to him and he weirdly makes it up to Loudermilk by making it up to other people first, allowing him to be like, “This guy. He was drinking at the time. This isn’t really him.”
One of the touchstones of having a sober relationship is you got to have someone who kind of reigns you in. You’ve got to have your sponsor. So who’s the sponsor in all these situations?
Bobby Mort: I think the dynamic shifts every time. Sometimes, like with Loudermilk and Claire, for part of the first season he’s helping her, and then she helps him. Then Ben helped him at some point. And he’s back, and they sort of trade off, and stuff. By the end of Season 2, I think Loudermilk has to be sort of his own advocate and his own sponsor. He’s got to watch out for himself for once and not lean on other people or have other people lean on him. So it’s an important part of his personal journey.
Is there room for Allison (Laura Mennell) then?
Bobby Mort: Well, that’s a tough one. I think he starts up the season doing everything wrong so they can with that relationship. And by the end of the season, I think there’s some glimmer of hope, but it’s very faint. So we’ll see. You know what’s funny? She’s in at some pivotal moments this season, but she’s not as much of an engine as she was the last season for that reason. And I think it’s given us the opportunity to focus on other parts of the group, other aspects of the Loudermilk personality. Carl (Toby Levins) makes an appearance, yes. We have a lot of the things, like the past coming back to haunt you. Carl’s back. Allison is back. There’s a homeless guy that while Ben is drinking he has a shopping cart. That guy’s back. There’s a lot of familiar faces from last year in addition to the group.
And there’s a new group member this year.
Bobby Mort: Yeah, Brooke (Elfina Luk) comes in. She’s an addiction specialist who just happens to be in town. She’s sort of setting up shop to run the country. And there’s some sparks there with Loudermilk. But again, he’s so not in his own way that he doesn’t take advantage of that. There’s a glimmer with her at the end of the season. It goes from him moving along to being very complicated by the end of the season.
When we last saw Loudermilk at the end of last season, he was talking a drink and broke his sober-streak. So does he start back at ground zero, then, with his sobriety?
Bobby Mort: He does. And he initially starts off trying to keep it from the group, and then realizes that, with Claire’s help — she calls him out in the group for having a drink — he has to be honest. Honesty is sort of the cornerstone in the journey of sobriety. He said, “I did this. And you guys are now more sober than I am. So you have to help me out.” There’s a little bit of him being aware that he’s got a long way to go.
Essential-honesty is a difficult path to live on, actually. In fact, you hurt a lot of people, because you’re saying things that people don’t normally say just because you feel like you need to to be honest to yourself. So is he going to deal with that burden for a little bit?
Bobby Mort: A little bit. I think a lot of the stuff that he has done in the past is coming back to him in not the best way possible. I think he thinks, “Well, I’m being real with these people and that’s an important thing.” And it’s like, not all of them. So he’s learning. One thing last season, he would never say “thank you,” “I’m sorry,” or “you’re welcome.” And this season, he has sort of softened up to where he’s like, “I need other people. I can’t do this alone as much as you want to be.” He couldn’t let anyone else get one over on him. There are a few times this season where he is definitely bested by someone and he doesn’t know what to do. He’s usually way ahead of everyone. It’s a challenge for him to put himself in that position.
One thing I appreciate about the show is, instead of it just being a show about alcoholics that are coping, it embeds a lot of hope in it and I appreciate how it is woven in.
Bobby Mort: Yeah, that’s really important to me. I feel like if it’s all dark and there’s nowhere to go but down, it’s not fun to watch. It’s not funny. And what I hope comes through on the show is that no matter how bad things are, things always can get better. And that’s what all these characters have to realize — that everyone has dark times and they can come back, and they can be thinking about a better life, a happier life. But it takes work.
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 Loudermilk and crew fare in their sobriety, 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: