A talking cat lady, voiced by The Mindy Project’s most crotchety nurse, Beth Grant. An episode where finding your definition of feminism becomes a trip to see the Wizard — like the wonderful Wizard of Oz. A quartet of 20-something women so delightfully specific, you’ll never wonder “which one” you really are. Instead, you’ll feel confident you probably have a few qualities from each (but hopefully not the life-ruining mega-neuroses of Esther Povitsky’s Izzy).
These are just a few of the reasons it’s difficult to pick a favorite part of Dollface, Hulu’s new surrealist comedy about the rollercoaster of adulthood in East Los Angeles. The difficulties of woman-to-woman friendship, breakups, and climbing the corporate ladder are all up for bizzaro discussion on the Margot Robbie-produced series, which premieres November 15.
Not since 27 Dresses has a project so thoroughly investigated why being a bridesmaid is often a curse rather than a blessing.
Dollface’s leading lady Kat Dennings is also a first-time executive producer on the series. Dennings plays Jules, a recently single woman desperate to reconnect with the best friends (Shay Mitchell and Brenda Song) she abandoned the second she got a boyfriend (Connor Hines). Reality-breaking hijinks quickly ensue, particularly around Jules’ very Goop-like millennial pink workplace.
Refinery29: Dollface is wild — what did you think when you first read the script?
Kat Dennings: “I was really drawn to the magical realism element. Because, you know, there are a lot of shows out there. I was looking for something really unique. And I love the Cat Lady.”
Jules goes though so many transformations, from friendship to romance to her career. Which were you most excited to explore in season 1?
“I was really excited about the place she works, Womb. It is a fantasy version of perhaps another type of lifestyle brand. That was a really fun concept, to see her trying to fit in at this polished, elegant lifestyle brand as a mess. That really appealed to me. I hope in another season we’ll be able to explore Jules and the corporate thing.”
Does Jules have a dream career? What does she want?
“That was one of my questions as well going into this. We don’t really get that answer. I don’t know what Jules’ dream job is. I feel like she’s on a crossroads in so many places in her life that she hasn’t had the opportunity to just sit down and think it over. Her priorities have been pretty off-base.”
Late-in-the-season episode “Feminist” tackles the cast’s feelings that they’ll never be a good enough feminist, no matter how hard they try. What do you hope viewers take from watching it?
“That concept is probably very universal. When you’re passionate about a cause, you kind of feel like you’re not completely authentic because you don’t know everything about it. You can sometimes feel frustrated. There’s a lot going on that episode.
“My boss Celeste, played by Malin Ackerman, she is the Wicked Witch in that episode. For me, Celeste is the embodiment of a fierce woman. To make her the antagonist in that episode was a really interesting choice. I’m trying not to give too much away…”
Have you ever felt like you didn’t live up to the high bar of internet feminism?
“I think if you put too much pressure on yourself to be anything, you’re going to make yourself nuts. I know how I feel. I know who I am. I don’t feel the need to really prove much. I try very hard to protect my mental health in terms of the internet.”
Network executives very easily could have asked for the core four to be white. What were auditions like to ensure that didn’t happen?
“Brenda was actually one of the first Madisons I ever read with. It was a very conscious decision that there were no mention of any kind of physical descriptors for any of the characters.
“That was something I also wanted. Because I’m an actor and I know that so often you get written off for whatever stupid reason there is. If I listed the things I’ve heard, it’s ridiculous. I felt like the one thing I could add as a first-time EP, but as a bajillion-time actor, I was just like, ‘I want to make sure the right human beings enter these roles. I’m not here to sit back and let the wrong people get the role.’”
The right people did get the roles in Dollface.
“The right people got the roles! We saw some fantastic actors for everything. But when I sat down with Brenda and we read together, our chemistry was instant. I was just like, Who is this person? Hello. You are my friend. Hello! Please feel the same. We just had lunch yesterday. We really have become extremely close. All the girls are awesome. It was a talent-only search.”
“She is absolutely fucking incredible in the show. She is a very funny person. Great comic timing. She does some astounding physical acting in this series. Her fans should be very excited.”
Dollface has so many great guest stars. Did you have a favorite?
“Oh, man. A personal favorite part of the series, he is definitely a friend of mine, he’s really great in the role — it’s Michael Angarano, who plays a male stripper. I’ve known him probably 15 years total. He is awesome. It is one of my favorite guest stars of any shows.”
He goes absolutely all-in on his scene.
“We actually didn’t know what he was going to do until we were rolling. Our reactions were genuine. We all loved it. In fact, we really had to control our faces because our instinct was to be elated.”
And then there’s a surprise Macaulay Culkin appearance.
“Yes! He is my other favorite guest. I keep forgetting because I wasn’t in scenes with him. Oh my God. I think people will freak out when they see him.”
What do you want people to take away from the show as a whole?
“I hope it inspires someone to call a friend they haven’t spoken to in a while. That’s the takeaway. There’s so much awful shit going on in the world. It’s nice to make something fun — a feel-good thing. It’s what we need right now.”