The Joy and Optimism of Andrea Savage’s ‘I’m Sorry’

Andrea Savage (Veep, Episodes, Dog Bites Man) created and stars in I’m Sorry, a new half-hour comedy on truTV. Tired of being offered boring, distressed, sexless mom roles, Savage set out to write a character she’d be proud to play on a show she’d love to work on. I’m Sorry follows the “seemingly confident, together comedy writer, wife and mom Andrea, who comically exposes her inner immaturity and neuroses through unexpected life situations” and is executive produced by The Lonely Island, Will Ferrell, and Adam McKay. Savage assembled a cast of her favorites including Judy Greer, Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, June Squibb, Martin Mull, Lizzy Caplan, Jamie Denbo, and Kulap Vilaysack. I talked with Savage about breaking the sitcom mom stereotype, bringing her own mom to set, and alternative life paths.

How did you decide on the name for the show, “I’m Sorry”?

I think a bit because there’s the zeitgeist of women saying “I’m sorry” too much, and I’m not terribly apologetic and my comedy isn’t really apologetic. And I realized that I say “I’m sorry” in a lot of other situations where I’m being more dry or sarcastic. More like “I’m sorry – what is it you’re asking me to do?” Or “I’m sorry – that is a very strange choice of pants.” You know, doing the “I’m sorry, not sorry” thing a little bit.  

What’s the best part about having your own show?

All of it is pretty great. Honestly, the best part of it is really feeling like my vision is being supported from beginning to end – having it really take off and being able to see exactly what it was in my head come out almost exactly onto the screen. Being able to shepherd it from everything from the writing to the casting, to props, to set design, to locations to editing – everything. To really steer the ship and feeling like at the end of the day this is the show I wanted to make – it’s incredibly satisfying. And rare, definitely rare.

When you were creating the show, did you go into it with the intention of breaking the sitcom mom stereotype or did it just come out naturally in the writing?

Yes, it was intentional in that – I was like, “I’m a mom. But there’s nothing like these roles that are coming to me.” And there were shows on that were these single point of view shows that I love. Like Louie and Master of None, those kinds of shows. There’s nuance to them. They have layers to them. It’s just people getting through their lives. I thought. “I’ve got really funny stories, and I also think they’re relatable.” I’m a nuanced person and being a mom doesn’t completely change who I am. I’m still funny and dirty and edgy. And I think I’m a good mom. I’m not a perfect mom, I’m just trying to do my best. So it was intentional to put a character on TV that we just haven’t seen yet. It’s more like me, more like women like me and millions of people. And not just women. Men. Everyone is juggling, everyone is different depending on if they’re talking to someone at work, vs. their best friend vs. their child.  

What’s the hardest part of having your own show?

Balancing my life with being a parent – 100 percent. It’s really hard. You sort of have to look at it and see that the whole show will take me a year from when we start writing to when we finish editing. But really try to keep the hours of writing and editing to me being able to drop off my daughter and be there in the evening to put her to bed and not go out. Production was really hard, but I’m really lucky – I have a mom who lives nearby and a husband who really steps up, and I couldn’t do it without them. And just keeping in mind that this is a finite amount of time. I also didn’t write any exterior night scenes for the entire season to avoid having late nights. I kept the locations near my home. You know, you have to put your foot down about certain things to make it feasible.

Has anyone in your family seen it yet?

They’ve all seen the pilot. My mom came to set a lot and she apparently could never remember that laughing out loud at things on a set is not what you do. So there were a lot of scenes where I had to be like, “Mom I can hear you laughing in the other room.” So she’s seen a lot of it. My husband has seen a lot of it because I’m still editing so I’ll ask him to watch it. I think that’s it. It will be interesting. It will be awesome.

You pulled a lot from real life experiences. Do you think you have an exceptional amount of wacky stuff happen in your life or is it more your ability to see the world through a comedy lens?

I think it might be a little bit of the ability to turn certain events into a story and to do it in a comedic way. Coupled with… I do have these events that have happened to me over a number of years and have sort of compiled them. I think I’m able to tell a story well and bring the funniness that might not be as obvious, but also, there are some things that have happened to me that are just funny.

Before you got into acting, you were pre-law at Cornell. Do you ever wonder what life would be like if you had gone that route?

Maybe I wonder, but I’m very happy with the route that I chose. But you know what – I could have also had a very happy life going the other route. But I love what I do, I truly love what I do. I love the people I work with, I love the collaborative experience. I love comedy. I mean, laughing all day with people who are hilarious? There’s legitimately nothing better in the world.

That definitely comes through in the show. It’s a very joyful show.

Yeah, I set out to make a joyful show. My comedy tends to be pretty optimistic. I enjoy watching dark shows, but my writing tends to be more optimistic. I wanted to create a husband and wife relationship where they think each other are kind of hot and funny and interesting, even though they’ve been together a while and have a kid. Because you never see that on TV. But there are people who, for them, that is their reality – why don’t you ever see that on TV? And then to write real friendships. Like Jason Mantzoukas and I are close friends in real life and we love to work together and have fun together. It’s like an embarrassment of riches of super funny, great people that I get to hang out with.

I’m Sorry airs on truTV Wednesdays at 10:00pm.

Photo by Scott Everett White/truTV.

Sydney Parker is a writer living in Seattle. You can read more of her writing on Carnival of Souls or follow her on Twitter @Carnivalosouls.

The Joy and Optimism of Andrea Savage’s ‘I’m Sorry’