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Mary Catherine Garrison Loved Seeing Tricia Grow in Somebody Somewhere’s Second Season

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In many ways, Mary Catherine Garrison can relate to Tricia on Somebody Somewhere. She’s at home in the suburbs, crafts, and, crucially, loves to hear Bridget Everett sing. After we talk on Zoom, she tells me she’s got to get back to planning a dinner party, another very Tricia activity. Of course, there’s a sizable distance between Garrison and her character; in the show’s first season, Tricia, sister to Everett’s character Sam, presents herself as tightly wound, homophobic, and cold to many of the show’s other characters. She’s a big fan of conformity, up until the point she discovers her husband has been cheating on her with her business partner at their store Tender Moments.

The second season kicks off with Tricia spiraling, then fueling her anger into making pillows emblazoned with various phrases involving the word “cunt”; it ends with her designing a wedding for Sam’s friend Fred Rococo. Along the way, Tricia grows closer to Sam, though their dynamic as sisters hits many speed bumps — notably when Sam discovers Tricia initially kept their sister’s cancer diagnosis secret from her. Tricia’s become, as Garrison puts it, “so much more multidimensional than you were expecting her to be,” though she’s always happy to express some of the character’s petty side too.

At the start of season two, despite Tricia’s life falling apart, she started spending more time with Sam and we got to see a warmer dynamic between them. What was it like to play that with Bridget?
Well, Bridget and I lived together for nearly a decade and we actually do like each other in real life. When we moved in together, I wasn’t sure she liked me at first. I was like, Oh, I’m going to have to make her my project. She did come to love me and I came to love her, and it was from her that I realized I was funny. When we lived together, I was doing plays and she was waitressing and doing a lot of karaoke. We weren’t ever performing together, and we were never doing the same thing. So I was really nervous acting with her on this, to see if it would be awkward. It turns out she was worried about that too. But it was the opposite of awkward. It was just like sinking into a warm bath. Even the emotional stuff was no problem for us.

Was there a moment you were certain you’d succeeded in your “make Bridget my friend” campaign?
Yes, we had to move and Bridget was like, “Do you want to look for an apartment with me?” Then I was like, “Oh, I think Miss Everett might like Miss Garrison!” Then we moved into an apartment on York Avenue far on the Upper East Side in one of those tall generic buildings and lived there for, like, ten years. I think she lived there for another ten years after that. We got sunlight there from 11 to 11:15. It was on the ground floor. It was just the darkest shed, but we loved it.

After having filmed the first season — and from what I understand, bonding pretty strongly as a cast — what did it feel like to come back to these characters?
That was a gift from Hollywood, which doesn’t happen very often. Season one was such a pleasurable employment opportunity. It was summer camp and you were getting money to do it. I would rent these amazingly anonymous corporate apartments and on the days off, I would go to Trader Joe’s. It was so mundane, but somehow magical. Like, God, I would love for this show to go on, but there’s no way. So it was shocking when we got great reviews and got picked up again. I just relaxed for the year because I didn’t need another job. Then, once we got the scripts, I read that Tricia would get to grow and change so much, it just lit me up. I was so excited as an actor.

I did find it very relatable to see her venting her anger at her ex and her ex–business partner through her burner Instagram.
It’s not a stretch for me to play angry, insane, and bitter. [Laughs.] Somebody sent me a meme where someone had taken a photo of Tricia and wrote “I love this bitter bitch.” That feels like I’ve arrived somehow! The thing about all these characters, but especially Tricia, is that they sink into the petty sometimes. She can’t help it. She’s trying so hard to do her best and life just keeps toppling over. Most people can probably relate to that.

Her “lying cunt” pillow design gets reposted by Amy Sedaris, but Tricia is hilariously unfamiliar with Amy Sedaris as a person. Do you know if Amy herself has seen that joke?
She’s seen the whole thing! I even did a couple takes where I pronounced her name Amy Sederis, which they didn’t use but I thought would’ve been funny. Amy hosted a panel we did and she’s a huge fan of the show and loves Bridget and took it all in great stride. I actually meant to take one of those pillows we made home and then didn’t.

Do you have any real-life women you think of as models for Tricia?
I grew up in Slidell, Louisiana, and now I spend most of the year in Lynchburg, Virginia, where my husband’s from. I’m very familiar with suburbia and I’m very familiar with women trying to have it all. I’m married. I have a son. I have a house. I have a little craft business on the side. None of it is too big of a stretch, except I never said “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I have more progressive politics than Tricia. She’s more on the conservative side, as far as she knows! I think that’s lack of exposure and lack of experience. I think Fred and Susan’s wedding and all that experience changes her.

There is something funny about her building a rainbow archway for the wedding and not acknowledging that it resembles a Pride flag.
She’s accidentally Pride all the time! Remember, in the first season she did that rainbow display in the store. She keeps being accidentally pro-Pride.

How would you say that Tricia’s approach to crafting differs from yours?I have a very different aesthetic than Tricia. Mine’s a little more modern, but I do sew and make pottery and I paint and make jewelry. Right now I’m making some avant-garde shaped fake press-on nails. I bite my nails, there’s no reason for me to get into that, but here I am! It actually started last season when I was in Chicago. I was watching Yellowjackets and scrolling through Pinterest and I just became obsessed.

Sam and Tricia’s improving relationship falls apart over Tricia revealing she kept their sister Holly’s cancer diagnosis secret on Holly’s request. The scene where that all comes out is brutal. How did you approach playing it?
For Tricia, it was important to illustrate that she lost her sister too. She also misses her, and it was a painful part of her life. It wasn’t all Sam who was supporting Holly in the illness. It’s good for Sam to know, too — I think Sam thought she had Holly all to herself, and she didn’t. Poor Sam just has to keep reckoning with stuff even if she doesn’t want to. Life just keeps dragging her along, forcing her to evolve. Well, it does for all of us, really.

Bridget lost a sister in real life and she has another sister, and I have a sister, so we have all that sister stuff at the ready. It’s easy to pull from. My sister’s with us still, and it was very moving because I know what Bridget’s sister’s death meant to her. I was living with her when it happened. It was awful. I wanted to protect her in that scene and I wanted her to express her feelings in that scene. I think that’s the same thing Tricia wanted. That makes Tricia so much more multidimensional than you were expecting her to be.

There’s a lovely moment at the wedding where Sam spots Tricia in the crowd while singing “Gloria” and pulls her over and gets her to ride on her back.
That was a surprise! I didn’t know she was going to do it. I’ve seen her do that at her shows before, where she’s ridden people on her back, but never me. It’s such a great moment for the sisters. From then on, their dynamic is different. It’s shifted into something new. That’s so much fun to act.

At the wedding, Fred acknowledges Sam and Tricia’s father’s absence, which by extension felt like acknowledging Mike Hagerty’s death. How did you as a cast process his loss?
He was one of the best people I’ve ever met and I didn’t even know him that well. He was so kind and warm and made everybody feel like they were on equal footing. His energy really informed season one, and I was a little worried about missing that in season two. I didn’t know how much of a grounding force we were going to have without him. But he wouldn’t have wanted any fuss. We knew everybody watching the show was likely going to know we had lost him, so when his character came up, it was with reverential energy. What we’re acting is real loss and sadness. It’s not really that he’s on a boat with his brother. It’s that we miss Mike. A lot of the emotions we have reading his letters and talking about them is from a place of us missing him. I felt appropriate.

It’s so much a show about loss and grief that maybe it was already built to accommodate that.
It got a little bit meta on us, didn’t it?

Tricia has such a sweet and supportive reaction to seeing Sam sing “Ave Maria” at the wedding, which, like the “Gloria” moment, is a nice grace note about their dynamic.
I’m not acting in that shot either. Every time she sings it — I don’t know what it is about her voice and the way it connects to that song — I cry. They wanted me to have an emotional reaction to it and I was like, “No problem.” I will probably cry no matter when or what she sings. She’s trained in opera, and when she gets to cut loose on more formal material but brings all her raw emotional energy … oh! It’s the best! Just delicious.

Do you remember the first time you heard her sing classically?
The first time I heard her sing, she was standing on a bar on the Upper West Side called the Parlour and the bartender was spraying her with water from one of those water guns. It was not classical. I believe it was 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Going On.” I don’t know when I would have heard her sing classical. She sang in our apartment all the time, but not a lot of classical. The answer is I don’t remember, but I know that I have.

Do you see a future for Tricia in planning more weddings like this one?Does “Trish Upon a Star” have a future? I hope so. I don’t have the cojones to ask what their plans for season three are, but Trish has been all over the map career-wise, so I guess it could be anything. She does believe in her aesthetic! So that’s consistent. Maybe she’ll become the arbiter of gay weddings in Manhattan, Kansas. That’ll probably lead to a political career of some kind. I have no idea what lays ahead for her, but I trust these writers.

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