This January, an unusual take on the modern woman is coming to FOX — one who doesn’t wear Spanx. Cue the gasps. The Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik stars in Call Me Kat, about a math professor who quits her job to open a cat café in Louisville, Kentucky. Of course, she’s almost 40 and single — surely the kiss of death, at least to her mother (Swoosie Kurtz) — but to Kat, there’s so much more to life than worrying about walking down the aisle. She has great friends and coworkers (Kyla Pratt and Leslie Jordan) and a business filled with kitty companions. Who cares that her old friend and former crush Max (Cheyenne Jackson) has moved back to town?
The series has oddball genetics: It’s based off of the unconventional British comedy Miranda starring comedian Miranda Hart. “Jim Parsons came to me, [with] his production company, and he told me about the show Miranda, which was really popular on the BBC, and asked what I thought about it. And I literally thought he was asking me for professional advice of what project he should produce next. And I said, well, that sounds absolutely delightful. And I didn’t know that what he meant was he wanted me to be the American version of Miranda,” enthused Bialik. “So a few conversations later, I figured it out, and we sold this really quirky and really bold show to FOX.” In the U.K. comedy, Miranda makes friends with fruit, often bursts into song and embraces weirdness at every turn, something that’s refreshing to find in a character “of a certain age” on American television. “There are definite American twists to [the show] and a different sense of humor for us versus them,” explained Bialik. “But the core of it is that you can not have everything and still be a dynamic, awesome, interesting person with a full and beautiful life, even if it doesn’t look like what other people think it should.”
Call Me Kat pairs Bialik again with her old costar Parsons — an executive producer here — who played Sheldon to her Amy on The Big Bang Theory. “It’s so rare that you find anyone, I think, in any job, that you actually want to work with for as long as we do,” Bialik said of her collaborator. “Working next to Jim Parsons every day for almost 10 years was one of the highlights of that job, and literally, of my career. To work with someone like him, who obviously is such a skilled and an awarded actor who is also a person that I enjoy spending time with, is really exceptional. … However annoying I must’ve been to him all those years, [I was] obviously not that annoying, because he’s still working with me.”
But the main reason to tune in to the show is Kat herself, a dynamic heartbeat of a character that marches to the beat of her own drum. “She has a really big heart, but also had an element of a little bit of emotional immaturity, so that her best laid plans don’t always work out well for everyone. And as a human being, what I love about playing this character is that we’re showing a normal woman. I’m not wearing Spanx, and I’m not having work done. … It’s very, very special. It’s very scary, because I’m not used to seeing women, quote, my size, as quote, normal women on television. But we really hope that many women and men in TV land, and in America, watching, will say that’s what a woman looks like.”
Call Me Kat > FOX > Premieres Sunday, Jan. 3