It’s like The Secret Life of Pets if all the pets were neurotic.
Housebroken (Mondays at 9pm ET/PT beginning May 31), the latest addition to FOX’s stable of animated comedies, comes from writers/executive producers Clea DuVall, Jennifer Crittenden and Gabrielle Allan, and features Lisa Kudrow, Nat Faxon, Tony Hale and Will Forte leading an all-star ensemble voice cast.
Honey (Kudrow) is a standard poodle who leads group therapy sessions for the neighborhood’s pets and stray animals to work out their issues with their owners and each other. Meanwhile, Honey’s arranged marriage to a big, fun-loving, oafish St. Bernard named Chief (Faxon) often leaves her feeling unfulfilled.
Kudrow let us in on what it’s like playing canine counselor to a crew of complicated companion animals:
What was it like working with the cast and recording the voices during the pandemic?
Lisa Kudrow: We started I think before COVID, and then we were doing table reads and scratch recordings virtually during lockdown. And when it was safe, I’d go into a studio. I got to record a lot with Nat Faxon. That was so great. He is so funny. Well, no kidding — that’s not exactly like big breaking news. It was just so funny, his laughing as Chief. I don’t know how many things I ruined just because I was laughing. It was hard not to. It was so funny at the table reads just to hear everyone. It’s really fun. Clea, Jen and Gabby, who created the show, are so great. One or all were there every session. They’re just so open to, “Oh, yeah, let’s try that. Let’s try that.” You’re allowed to pitch things. And they really also just helped me find Honey.
DuVall’s relationship with her cat was the springboard for Housebroken. Do you have any pets of your own?
Yeah, I have a little dog. She loves me. What more does a pet owner want out of their animal? I’m loved. She’s a Maltese mix. She’s really great. We just sort of attribute human behaviors and thoughts to our animals and read into every expression as if it’s our own. It all makes sense the way they depict these animals. And then there are little misinterpretations of their humans’ behavior, which was really funny to me.
Honey and Chief have an arranged marriage, and they’re kind of a mismatch. What’s their relationship like?
They’re just total opposites. Chief is just full of energy, everything is just for fun and he has a coarse sense of humor. Honey is obviously analytical and she thinks of herself as a therapist because her human is a therapist. Honey really just wants to talk, and Chief is really not interested. But he’s so sweet. Of course she has to like him. What’s not to like? He’s just so lovable. I think because she’s so analytical, she thinks, “I don’t know if this is the right match.” And you don’t have to think too much about things. So it almost feels like that’s Honey’s journey in all of this.
Doesn’t Honey also have eyes on someone else in the neighborhood?
There’s a coyote. I think she has this attraction to the wild side. But guess what, Honey: He’s also the opposite of you. And he’s sexy. Chief is not sexy. He’s just fun and lovable.
Since they’re both therapists, do Honey and Jill (Maria Bamford) overanalyze each other?
Jill is the human, and it doesn’t feel like she’s analyzing them too much. It feels like she just loves them with all her heart, which is so nice.
How would you compare Honey’s therapeutic philosophy to that of your Fiona character from Web Therapy?
Fiona is like the opposite of offering anything therapeutic. Honey’s really … she’s really, really trying. I think underneath it all, she can’t help but sort of feel a little superior to everyone in group, which she thinks she masks really well. And it’s also her tragic attempt every time to be fun-sy. She’s not. That stuff makes me laugh, I have to say.
Meet the animals in Honey’s therapy circle:
Bubbles (Greta Lee) A snarky teenage goldfish.
Chico (Sam Richardson) A rotund, codependent orange cat.
Diablo (Tony Hale) A high-strung terrier with OCD.
Elsa (Clea DuVall) An aggressively Type A Corgi who works as a fake service dog.
The Gray One (Jason Mantzoukas) A street-wise, one-eyed alley cat.
Max (Hale) George Clooney’s egocentric pet pig.
Nibbles (Bresha Webb) A psychopathic hamster whose mate died under suspicious circumstances.
Shel (Will Forte) A sex-positive tortoise with intimacy issues.
Tabitha (Sharon Horgan) An aging Persian cat beauty queen.
Tchotchke A silent slow loris who may possess magical abilities.