How NBC’s The Mysteries Of Laura Is Inspired By Real Moms

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So many of us loved actress Debra Messing as half of the lovable friend-couple on Will & Grace. Now, she’s back as Laura Diamond, a divorced single mom of troublesome twins trying to balance her personal life and her professional life as NYPD homicide detective with her ex-husband as her boss in The Mysteries of Laura.

Mysteries of Laura

 

Recently, we had the amazing pleasure of speaking with the talent behind the talent, The Mysteries of Laura’s Amanda Green (Co-Executive Producer), Margaret Easley (Writer) and Laura Putney (Writer) to discuss how real moms inspire the show and what it’s like to be a mom in Hollywood.

Q: When it came to Debra Messing, did you know you wanted her or did she audition for the role?

Amanda Green: “Debra Messing does not need to audition for anything. She is, as you probably know, so iconic and so present. I mean she was a dream. We just felt completely lucky that she was willing to do this show; not the other way around.

But the great thing I’ll say about having Debra is that she is, herself, a mom. And having a mom play the part of Laura is just so key; because I’m not saying an actress who isn’t a mother couldn’t handle the role, but Debra brings her own valid, grounded experiences as a parent – as a single parent – to this part. And she’s just awesome.”

Laura Putney: “Yes. I think she’s willing to touch some things that would otherwise be considered third rail. You know if you don’t have your own kids, sometimes it can be hard to have that sort of – a bit of an edgy approach to child rearing.

Amanda Green: “What Laura is saying is that moms make poop jokes.” {laughing}

Laura Putney: “Yes. And, you know, she’s just been there with the mom fails that we do on the show. And she brings a level of experience to it that I think it would be harder for an actress who’s not a mom to do.

mysteries of laura

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Q: Because you’re all writers and two of you come from an improv background, is it easier to write for a dram-edy because you can kind of throw both in there? Or is it easier to write for either a drama or a comedy?

Margaret Easley: I will say that having the improv background, it just sort of brings comedy to every moment we write. We are huge procedural fans. So writing a great procedural script, and then finding the comedy that organically comes out of that is a thrill.

It’s, I think, easier than writing straight comedy actually because you’re creating a world and a gritty story, and then finding the humor that comes out of that.

Laura Putney: “You don’t have to force the comedy. We’re into every moment. It only comes in where it occurs organically. So I think I like it better.

Mysteries of Laura
From left to right, Margaret Easley, Laura Putney, Amanda Green

 

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Q: Do you take any experiences from your own life with your children to use for this show?

Amanda Green:I think your question could probably be paraphrased as did we take anything today from our children. It’s pretty constant and chronic, and between the three of us we have seven kids so they are a constant source of inspiration. I mean, we’d be talking about them even if we didn’t have the twins [from the show] to write for because that’s what we talk about – right? – as human beings, as mothers – what our kids do. It drives us crazy. It’s adorable. It’s ridiculous. It’s aggravating. It’s why we get up in the morning – why I got up at 5:00 this morning because my daughter just doesn’t get daylight savings time yet. 

Margaret Easley: “I will say that in the time we’ve been writing this, there’s been a great turn in my life where I’m at home, at the end of my tether, almost sobbing. And then that little voice in my head goes, ‘Oh, I can totally bring this into the writer’s room.’ It’s been a good thing for my parenting.”

Amanda Green: “I think – and I bet you know this in your own writing – to be able to take the crises of our daily life with our children as – or with our mom’s help – and to turn it into art or comedy or relatable drama, is medicine. It redeems those moments where otherwise you’d be saying ‘That’s it! Put me in a straitjacket and ship me off because I can’t take another minute!’ into knowing that you can share that experience and that vulnerability through this show with lots of other moms. And that’s fantastic.

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Q: You’ve had some interesting guest stars. Are there any more funny appearances coming up, or any particular stars you’d like to see on your show?

Amanda Green: “Oh wow, that’s a great question. I’m just trying to think of what we can tell you. I think there’s definitely some fun coming up.

Laura Putney:We’re not sure what we can say. We’ve got a great mom coming up.

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Q: We have a sense of how Laura juggles being a mom and working. But how do you ladies juggle being a mom and working in Hollywood?

Margaret Easley:I don’t do it very well. So I’m going to turn it over to the other two.

Laura Putney: “Wow, how do we do it? You know, I don’t think there’s anything different or more glamorous about being a working mom wherever you work. It is always going to be hard. The hours are always going to be long.

Basically we’re all always failing someone. You can be a hero at work or you can be a hero at home. You usually can’t be both. And Hollywood is no different from any other workplace, except that most other workplaces have to give you things like maternity leave, which we don’t get.

But I think that the hardest thing – and it is not true of this show – is that usually if you are a working mom on the staff of a TV show in Hollywood, you’re usually alone. Writing is not a business where there are a lot of people who are working moms. There are a lot of younger women. There are women whose kids are grown. But working moms are definitely in the minority. And the fantastic thing about this show is that instead of working moms being a stigma, it’s a positive.

And this is an atmosphere – I mean not only do we three have kids, lots of the men on this show who are writers are dads. And, you know, we’re all actively involved in our children’s lives and parenting lives. And Jeff Rake is an amazing show runner who actually supports that.

Margaret Easley:I’m going to weigh in on my bad parenting and juggling. To me it’s – going off of what Laura said – it’s the micro and macro support; to me it’s been the mom community. I mean here in the office, Amanda, Laura and I will bring in bags of clothes for each other. All my kids are wearing Amanda’s and Laura’s kids’ clothes. And, you know, I think it’s a great support group. And we’ll come in and share stories in the morning.

And then outside of that, yesterday things went long. Both of my kids got picked up after school by their friends’ parents. So, you know, I just – I sent up the bat signal and some other families rushed into to help. So I think as Amanda said, there is a universal – whether it’s Hollywood or not – you have your village, no matter how small or big it is. And that just makes the whole experience so much better and easier.

Amanda Green: “I will just say one last time as clearly as possible, as a mom, working on this show is the best thing ever because being a mom here is an asset. It’s not a negative. It’s not an, “oh, she’s a mom. Should we hire her? She’s probably going to leave early for a parent teacher conference or, you know, have to call in sick because her kid, you know, got strep. And that is actually – having that experience, having that juggle, having that insanity is actually an asset. And as everyone knows, you know, if you’re not living it, you’re not bringing it to the table every day.

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Q: Many women including myself can definitely relate to Laura. And I love that you guys make her character unable to always do it so perfectly. It’s more relatable. Is there someone in particular that, in the beginning, inspired her character? Or is it more of a collective of your own lives?

Amanda Green:Well, I don’t know if you know this, but the show is based on an incredibly popular and successful show in Spain called “Los Misterios de Laura” – literally “the Mysteries of Laura.” Laura is played in that very much the same way as our Laura is – as a mom who struggles to find the balance between work and family.

Our stories are all independent. We’re not really adapting the individual episodes of the Spanish show. But we certainly fell in love with the character – flawed, human, struggling – but always despite her sometimes cynicism, always ultimately persevering and successful, both as a parent and as a police officer.

Laura Putney:And, yes. I think Debra brings a lot of that to the table too, and had a lot to do with shaping this character, I think, as a mom. This is very much who she is, you know? She is very much like this. For example, one of the things that we often talk about is, ‘What’s Laura going to pull out of her purse?’ It might be a gun. It might be a juice box. It might be a ninja. And that is something we can all relate to; being moms and having those bags that seem to contain a ridiculous amount of stuff – most of which has nothing with to do with life.

Debra, you know, plays right into that. You know there was an episode earlier in the season where Billy’s character gets injured. And she reaches into her purse and pulls out a maxi pad and slaps it on his injury. Because, you know, we all know there’s one of those in the bottom of the bag somewhere.

Amanda Green: “And that was Debra’s idea, the maxi pad – sure, I’ve got one of those in the bag. Don’t we all? And it’s such – it’s always a source of the humor and the fun of the show.

Margaret and I had a Twitter war the other day about what’s happening – what we have in our purses. And we just kept pulling out things and taking a picture and posting it on Twitter. And as the objects got – and it was totally just absolutely real life – whatever we happened to have in our purse that day. And I think I won that with a stick on mustache.

Margaret Easley: “Yes, you did. That would do it. You don’t know why you have that. I have no idea to this day why I had this – probably still in there.

Amanda Green:What I love is I did pull out the other day – out of my bag in a work setting – a pair of my daughter’s size 4T underpants, which were in my purse because, you know, accidents happen. It was Thursday. I hadn’t been running around with her since Sunday. But hey, maybe I’d need them for something else, you know?

Margaret Easley: “I was on a production call and I pulled out a pirate telescope, which proved very useful for nothing. 

I was in synagogue in a very quiet moment with my six year old son. And I gave him my wallet to pull things out so he could just be calm and quiet. And I thought I was doing – I was like patting myself on the back. He was such a model of good behavior, until he pulls out of my wallet a tampon and holds it up high. And I have no idea – he’s like sort of behind me. And he’s holding it up above his head – ‘Mommy, what’s this?’ You heard it here folks. It’s going in a script.

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Q: In Hollywood we used to only see the perfect housewives and perfect mothers like Donna Reed. And we’re finally now seeing real moms and real parents like in The Mysteries of Laura. Do you see this trend continuing in entertainment?

Amanda Green:I sure hope so. You know, I really, really hope so. Because I think the audience proves it out. There are a lot of women out there who need to see themselves reflected in media. And it’s not just moms. It’s everything. I mean, the amazing boom in diversity on TV screens speaks to the need of all of us to see ourselves reflected, not just,one race, one ethnicity, one dress size, one hair style.

And I’m really hoping the ‘Donna Reed’ days don’t come back because as classic as 50s television was, shows like that make 99% of the population feel bad about themselves because their house isn’t clean, because their hair isn’t done, because they don’t fit into a size 2 dress without triple Spanx. We need to see parents of all sort of types across the spectrum – parents of all forms, and people who are finding solutions that aren’t the same. And I think the first step is sort of voting with our viewership, because that’s what makes people sit up and take notice.

Margaret Easley: “I think we are all of a community. I think social media has been a huge part in changing that. There’s such an instant access to what’s real and painful and relatable.

The Mysteries of Laura is on NBC at 8pm/7C on Wednesdays. Be sure to check out an all new episode premiering tonight! 

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