"Web Therapy" originated online as a seven-minute-per-episode "talk show"
Kudrow is probably best known for starring on the hit show "Friends"
Lisa Kudrow has focused her energy toward pet projects like "Web Therapy"
Tuesday night marked the end of season one of Lisa Kudrow’s “Web Therapy” on Showtime.
The series originated online as a seven-minute-per-episode “talk show,” where viewers would voyeuristically find themselves engaged in the life of Fiona Wallace, a dysfunctional psychologist who practices treatment through a three-minute Web chat with her clients.
Like “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the show can be awkward and largely uncomfortable to watch unfold, which can make for an oddly fascinating viewing experience. The series is a testament to Kudrow’s work over the past several years . Along with supporting roles in films, she has focused her energy toward pet projects like “Web Therapy” and NBC’s reality genealogy show, “Who Do You Think You Are?” – shows that have allowed inroads to being more than just an actress from that old show “Friends.”
What’s in store for “Web Therapy” and the new season of “Who Do You Think You Are?” CNN recently spoke with Kudrow, who answered questions from her home in Los Angeles.
CNN: How do you think the transition from Web show to TV show went?
Kudrow: We think it went really well! We really fell in love with this half-hour format for it. There’s connective tissue we added when we thought things weren’t very clear. With us, the biggest success with the Web series was, “Ooh, this is funny” and there’s a beginning, middle and end.
The same thing for the TV series but not only that, could it sustain 28 minutes when it’s just two people on a webcam – they’re not moving and it’s just a conversation. The next level of success is, “Do they want more?” For the Web, we just finished shooting our fourth Web season, so that’s successful. With Showtime, we’re just going to see after it airs. I think it’s going to be a little while. We did hear from Showtime that it exceeded their expectations.
CNN: I don’t know what those expectations were, but that’s typically good when someone says that to you.
Kudrow: I know! I don’t think they were enormous expectations, but that’s what’s so funny – because it was a Web series first, I think everyone’s expectations of a Web series are low. That everything’s going to be “less than.”
CNN: So is the show poking fun of Web culture or shrink culture more?
Kudrow: Not shrinks.
CNN: Do shrinks think that you’re making fun of shrinks?
Kudrow: No. They’re huge fans. Because I think a lot of shrinks feel like there are a lot of bad shrinks. They think this is a horrible form of therapy; it’s not therapy at all. Some of our biggest fans are from the psychological community. (Laughs) I learned that in certain classes of people studying psychology, the exercise is to write down as many errors.
CNN: Now do you engage in any Web chatting yourself? It can be a pretty uncomfortable practice.
Kudrow: I agree! I tried it and I don’t like it. If my husband’s away and we talk on the phone, it’s still tough. Face to face is still so much easier. If you try to do a Web chat, it’s too distracting. “You look awful!” Whatever your phone habits are – I like to pace around – and now I have to sit still. Sometimes if feels out of sync, the timing is off, you have the picture of you up (in the corner). It’s so distracting.
CNN: Fiona Wallace comes off largely unaware of how ridiculous she is. Why is that?
Kudrow: Because I’m playing her and I can’t help it. (Laughs) We can make her a little worse. She can do horrible things, which she does, and then she’s discredited. As storytellers we can get away with that.
CNN: “Who Do You Think You Are?” is coming back for season three. Who did you shoot with?
Kudrow: We’ve shot a few of them so far. NBC hasn’t released the names and I’m not allowed. They control that. But it’s going to be really good, already. It’s very compelling stories, shot documentary style. I think that was the big hurdle for that show – that it was that style, on network television. You have to give credit to NBC for taking that risk. But for them, it was “lets just see” and put it on Friday nights. Expectations were not high at all. That’s why the measure of success is, “Can you do more?”
CNN: Executive producer can mean a lot of things. How much are you involved with season three?
Kudrow: We’re very involved in casting, getting research updates, the outline with how to shoot the show. And I get very involved in the cuts to make sure it fits in and gets the bigger picture. We’re hands on.
CNN: I noticed that “Friends” is now on Nick at Night.
Kudrow: Yeah, my son told me!
CNN: Does this signify anything to you? Is it like when you have a favorite song in high school and then you start hearing it on the classic rock stations?
Kudrow: (Sighs) A little bit. Yeah, it is a little bit of that. Look, I’ve been adjusting for years now, where a 10-year-old girl will say, “I love Friends!” I’m like “You do? You weren’t even born when we were shooting. And you recognize me.” But that’s good, that I don’t look that different. That’s the bigger deal.