One Funny Lady

Andrea Savage Knows Her Kid Is Gonna Talk About Her In Therapy One Day

Actor and director Andrea Savage talks family life and raising teens, the most terrifying part of motherhood, and what happened with I'm Sorry season 3.

Written by Kate Auletta
Photographs by Tawni Bannister

Like so many of my mom friends, I am unapologetically a tremendous fan of Andrea Savage, who created the so-wrongfully canceled comedy, I’m Sorry. If you’ve never seen it, I’m Sorry is about parenthood, marriage and womanhood as told through the eyes of the ever-hilarious Savage, herself a mom of one and LA native. Or perhaps you recognize the 49-year-old Savage from her role in Veep — as the first female president, Laura Montez — or Step Brothers or The Hotwives of Orlando. Needless to say, when I got the opportunity to chat with Savage, I jumped.

And, to my great delight, she is as uncensored in person (well, via Zoom) as she is on the show. When I told her that she’s basically the “unofficial poster girl” for Scary Mommy, she didn’t bat an eye and said, “I think there’s probably some truth to that.”

Currently filming Tulsa King, a mafia drama starring Sylvester Stallone that comes out this fall on Paramount +, I got a chance to ask her about the end of I’m Sorry, parenting a teenager, and more.

Kate: I’m Sorry spoke to me so much as both a mother and as a woman in her 40s. How have you channeled all of that now that the show's over?

Andrea: I was so crazy busy for so many years, because I was wearing all the hats, and to really do a show where it's really a single point of view, you've got to have your fingers in everything and it's exhausting. I think I've just taken a breath and gone, "There's other things I'm going to focus on for my personal life, and also other things career-wise that aren't about being a mother."

I've put exploring motherhood on the back burner and am more really just experiencing motherhood. Really being with my daughter, who is 13, and I feel like her privacy is super important and I feel like right now with social media and all the pressure to be not private at all, I'm trying to give her the gift of privacy and trying to model that as well for her on my end, and not use her as a prop in my life, because I just don't think that's fair.

Kate: So are the teen years as bad as they say?

Andrea: I will say so far, so good. Definitely a little more attitude and this and that, but I am loving this age. My empathy is so front and center with it, and really just trying to listen and also guide. I feel like people always think as a parent I'm probably like, "Ugh, f*ck off." But I really take it seriously. I'm just trying to give her the foundation to be able to survive in the real world, and I really do feel like some of the things that are going on in our world, especially social media, gives this false expectation that every day is going to be special, and that anything less than that is a failure. This expectation now that passion needs to be there every day, every day needs to be special and every day you need to feel your best and if you don't, you've got to contemplate it. No, no, no, that's not life. Obviously, I want her to be happy, but I'm working on giving realistic expectations of life so you can actually be happy in the reality of what the world is.

Kate: How are you actually doing that?

Andrea: When there's a bad day or drama, not trying to solve it and just go, "You know what? Let's just sit in it, today's a bad day and let's not freak out by the anxiety of it or the sadness and go, 'We're going to have probably a lot of days like this.'" It's just getting the tools of how we live with it, and not freaking out about it and knowing that's just life, and really just saying like, "Hey, life isn't going to be special every day." Hopefully that will lessen the anxiety and the pressure. I try to be open about like, “Yeah, today was a crap day.” Just be like, “Tomorrow, it'll be better.” It might not be; it might be a week until it's better. Try to just keep it realistic.

Kate: What were the most autobiographical scenes in the show? Were there also moments that you were like, “Dear God, I hope this never has to happen” that you put in?

Andrea: There were definitely days where I was on set going like, “Why am I falling out of a bathroom with my pants off? I did this to myself, I have no one else to blame.” As I'm bottomless in front of a crew going, “I felt this was so funny, and now I actually have to do it.”

But I think my funniest ones were the fight I got into with my daughter about my pubic hair and how she's young, she just was adamantly against getting it, and it was very much like, “I don't like yours.” I really was like, “You don't understand how aspirational mine is. No, no, this is as good as it gets.” Everyone has pubic hair, and this weird argument we got into about how she did not think my husband had pubic hair, and I went, “He definitively has pubic hair, I'm not going to argue with you about this.”

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Kate: I’m Sorry is on HBO Max now, right? What happened with Season 3?

Andrea: The sad part is that Season 3’s completely written ... Someone did try to buy it, I will say, it is just complicated. Honestly, we really got caught in the Warner Brothers/AT&T merger... It was COVID, but it really was the beginning of all the stuff we're seeing now of Batgirl being shelved and Season 2 of Chad not coming out. It was the beginning of that, but I couldn't even talk about it at the time. Maybe we will finish it at some point. It was so shocking, too, because it was bigger than it had ever been and really taking off ... Also, we were in the middle of shooting it, you already spent so much money. So now people are like, “Why are they shelving Batgirl [after spending] $90 million?” I'm like, “Well...”

Kate: What's the most terrifying thing about motherhood so far? In a funny way, not in an "Oh, God. We're all going to die alone" kind of thing.

Andrea: Listen, I'm in therapy talking about my mother and I have a great mother. I'm always like, “What are the things [my daughter] is going to be sitting in here about in 25 years?” Because you're like, “I do all the good stuff a million times, but the one weird thing I do is going to be the only thing she remembers from this entire year.” She's going to be in therapy and I'm going to want to be like, “Counterpoint. This is the context of what was happening.” ... So I guess it's just how are you f*cking them up?

Kate: So you have an only child, I'm an only child. What advice do you have for fellow only-child parents? Do you have siblings?

Andrea: I have four brothers. My husband's one of five too. I have a lot of angst about having one child. I struggle with it. But I also am like, “My kid is super happy.” I feel like every time I meet someone who's an only child, suddenly I'm a doctor performing some sort of psychiatric evaluation, because I come from so many siblings, I am close with them, I rely on them. I wish I could say, “I am super comfortable with my decision and I've never looked back.” But it would be a lie. I feel guilt about not giving her a sibling. But she's also really happy.

“Listen, I'm in therapy talking about my mother and I have a great mother. I'm always like, “What are the things [my daughter] is going to be sitting in here about in 25 years?” Because you're like, “I do all the good stuff a million times, but the one weird thing I do is going to be the only thing she remembers from this entire year.”

Kate: So let’s talk about books. What are you and your kid reading?

Andrea: During COVID, we were in a mother/daughter book club. It was five moms and five girls and it was all over Zoom. If I can recommend something, it was so great to read these books and hear their analysis about it and their thoughts, and just sit back and then we'd throw a little something out there. It was one of my most favorite things I've ever done. So what we did is you'd pull their name out of a hat and they would get to pick three books, we’d all vote based on the little descriptions of the book, and then that mom and daughter would lead the book club for that book.

Kate: What a fun idea!

Andrea: We probably did it for over a year, we probably read eight books. At that age, you've got to find your ways to get into their heads and connect and be able to guide, but you can't really guide anymore obviously, you have to be real stealth about it.

It's a totally different kind of parenting, because the first couple years is just literally keeping them alive. Every year on their birthday, you're like, “Oh, my God. I kept this alive one more year.” Then it's just getting them through milestones and stuff, and now it's really the mental, prepping them to live without you. We're animals and that's what you do: you prep your offspring to be able to survive if you are not there, God forbid. But it's just where I think parenting is at that age. It's not the ha-ha, “Oh, my God. Listen to what they said.” You get out of those moments and then you get into holding your own and friendships.

I find that the stories of when my daughter was younger are funnier stories than the stories now when you have a 13-year-old. Because she knows what she's saying, they're not as adorably hilarious. I do remember that transition from little girl to young woman where your kid's walking around the house nude and you're just used to that and you just see it all the time, and then suddenly one day I was like, “Oh, there's a nude grown woman in my house.” It was just like, “OK, well, now we need to talk about not strolling through the house, because you have boobs.” It was just like suddenly there was a naked grown adult that was in our home that we had never met before.

Kate: I have to ask you this question: What are your other favorite words in the English language besides butt-hole?

Andrea: I feel like people think butt-hole, because it's dirty, I actually think butt-hole is the only word that I know that immediately relaxes people and you can't be uptight when you say it. You have to become silly if you say the word butt-hole. There's very few words or things where people will just stop being so worked up and so sensitive, and if you just are like, “Ugh, that's a butt-hole.” You can't in anger be like, “You butt-hole.” There's something just silly and it takes all, I don't know, artifice of everybody acting offended or this and that. I love the word f*ck, I really do. I like the word delightful, I feel like I use it a lot. When I really like someone, I'm like, “They're just a delight.” I like to swear, I just think it's funny to swear. I like calling people dick, but not the usual way, like girlfriends and stuff like, "You f*cking dick."

Kate: Getting back to I'm Sorry for a second, I’ve read that you didn’t do exterior night scenes because you wanted people to go back to their kids. Did you get any pushback about that?

Andrea: You know what's interesting? There was such a small thing, but in the pilot of I'm Sorry, Andrea and Mike are driving to a kid's birthday party and Andrea's driving, that threw so many people off. From the DP to the director to the editor, it was such a small thing, but people were like, “You never see the wife driving.” Somebody even said to me, “I know I shouldn't feel this way, but it makes it somewhat emasculating for the husband character.” I was like, “Does your wife ever drive?” They're like, “Of course.” I was like, “What's the problem?” It was a very small thing, but if you really think about it, do you ever see a husband and wife in a movie or television where the wife is driving?

Kate: The Nextdoor thing got me so bad. Coyote sightings are a big deal around here.

Andrea: Oh, I have lots of coyote sightings on mine. What I still find amazing is the amount of “gunshots or fireworks?” Not one time has it been gunshots, literally not one time. So maybe before you take your finger to the keyboard, you go, “Has it ever been gunshots? Or has it always been fireworks?” On a weekly basis, I'm like, “Is this someone f*cking with us?” It's always some 65-year-old woman who's always like, “3:00 AM, I don't know, it sounded like gunshots, but was it fireworks?” Every time, and I literally just want to take over Nextdoor and just be like, “It's never been gunshots. Let's all just move on with our lives.”

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Kate: You were in Beavis & Butthead, so everything that is old is new again, obviously. What are some of the things that you want to bring back from your youth?

Andrea: You know what I would like to bring back is the mixed tape. Making a mixed tape for somebody on your tape deck, stopping, starting, getting the mic. You got a mixed tape from somebody that was like, we are so connected, whether or not it was a boyfriend or a friend, it was a huge deal. I remember I was going on a European one-month teen tour for the summer and my boyfriend sent me mixed tapes to different cities and hotels that I was going to.

Kate: That's commitment.

Andrea: So I could hear him talk and then he would play songs.

Kate: What ever happened to him?

Andrea: I was 15. I broke up with him, then I got a crush on someone else. He was lovely. My first boyfriend was wonderful and I think set the tone. Ross Thomas, there you go.

Kate: I wonder where Ross Thomas is today.

Andrea: I don't know, but he was lovely.

"I find that the stories of when my daughter was younger are funnier stories than the stories now when you have a 13-year-old. Because she knows what she's saying, they're not as adorably hilarious."

Kate: There’s a messy mom trope, so what's the messiest part of your life?

Andrea: I'm weirdly messy, and my husband will take pictures and send them to his friends, which is really annoying. I have a thing where I just don't close drawers completely, evidently. We'll have a dresser, now actually in our new house they just close automatically, so it's great, but there's a time where I guess my dresser, each drawer was just slightly not closed. He has a chain that he has with his friends about their wives not closing stuff. My car's not messy, but if I take my clothes off, they're going to probably just be right there until the next morning.

Kate: What's the best parenting advice you've ever gotten?

Andrea: Sleep train that baby, and don't f*cking fall into, “I wanted to sleep in bed.” Sleep train that baby, and I did. The first day she was technically of weight, I was like, “Here we go.” It lasted two days, and then my life opened up like the clouds and unicorns and just puppies shitting from the sky, and suddenly I'm sleeping 10 hours a night and life was good again.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.