Take a step back in time with ABC’s new comedy series – The Kids Are Alright. Can you imagine having 8 boys and only having one bathroom? I have two boys and I’m grateful they have their own space! While in LA earlier this month, we visited the ABC set for a tour as well as cast and crew interviews. Caleb Foote (one of the older boys in the series) was kind enough to allow 25 ladies to follow him around for the afternoon!
I was invited as media to cover this event. All opinions are my own.
The Kids Are Alright
Set in the 1970s, this ensemble comedy follows a traditional Irish-Catholic family, the Clearys, as they navigate big and small changes during one of America’s most turbulent decades. In a working-class neighborhood outside Los Angeles, Mike and Peggy raise eight boisterous boys who live out their days with little supervision. The household is turned upside down when oldest son Lawrence returns home and announces he’s quitting the seminary to go off and “save the world.” Times are changing and this family will never be the same. There are 10 people, three bedrooms, one bathroom and everyone in it for themselves.
The Kids Are Alright Interviews & Set Tour
Tim Doyle is the show creator and the sitcom is actually based on his real life. After introducing himself, he shares, “I did the narration on this show. ‘Back in the ’70s, everything’s different…It’s amazing that we all survived that period. But again, some of us didn’t!”
Q: So speaking of family – what has been the best reaction to the show from any of your family members?
Tim mentioned, “Well, my brothers are all very curious about it. My oldest brother came when we were shooting the pilot. And he’s been very enthusiastic. Very nice and also very helpful! Now I’ll call him and say, ‘what was the deal? What was that thing that was going on back then?’ ‘Cause there were a lot of things that he was privy to that I didn’t know about, ’cause I was a little kid!”
Set Decorator Claudette Didul met us in the living room to give us an overview of the Cleary house, sharing, “The show is really all about nostalgia, and when everyone comes in, it’s not the designs that stand out, it’s, like, ‘oh my god! My grandparents had that.'” Production Designer Michael Whetstone is also on hand to share some details about the set, mentioning, “So inside, this probably either reminds you of your parents’ house or your grandparents’ house, or somebody in the past of your life. A lot of that is due to the research we did at the beginning, and then Claudette’s eye for detail. I think if you walk through here you’ll see layers and layers of encyclopedias and games…Every single thing has what we like to call a proof of authenticity.”
Caleb mentions that it’s a tight space and the main hub is the living room couch. Everyone piles in to watch TV, but there’s no remote in the Cleary house, so one of the younger boys is required to pop up and change the channel whenever dad asks.
As we enter the dining space, which is where Mrs. Cleary does everything from laundry to serving food – Michael shares with us, “The wallpaper was inspired by a house we saw from the 1960s. I think as you look at this you’re gonna say, oh it’s 1972 but they don’t have any ’70s furniture. It’s because this family can’t afford to buy 1972 brand new furniture…” Also on the wall, a full set of silver spoons! Do you know someone who collected those back in the day?
The 3 bedroom house has to fit all 10 Cleary family members which means seven of the boys share 2 bedrooms, while mom and dad plus the youngest family member have the master bedroom. As we walked through I found all sorts of throwbacks from an old record player to books and decor.
Next, we headed outside and further down the lot is a full backyard set. With 10 family members and crowded space, mom tends to send the boys outside a lot, so there’s a need for plenty of outdoor space. Kris Eber, the line producer, meets us in the backyard where he shares, “So a decision that we made on the show, and to my knowledge I think we’re the only comedy that’s ever done this – we decided we were going to build a full 7,000 square foot real backyard in our parking lot. Adding everything is real, except the grass, because of durability with a working crew, but they wanted it to be as authentic as possible.
We asked Caleb how many episodes they shoot a week. “We shoot about an episode a week. We’re shooting episode eleven right now, and then we will read for episode twelve on Thursday, and then we’ll get the final script Friday, and then you memorize it all weekend, and then we start the next episode, Monday. At this point, it’s a well-oiled machine and we bump it out pretty quickly; long hours, but it’s the best job.”
Costume Designer Susan Michalek shares with us the clothes are “all supposed to look like hand-me-downs except it’s happier because it’s on ABC. So it’s sort of colorful hand-me-downs. There’s just a ton of research we did for it.”
Q: So vintage clothing is kind of in, does that make it any easier to get that stuff?
“A little bit but the volume (they have to dress 10 actors)- we need so much so ABC has a costume house and Warner Brothers has a costume house and then there are some private ones too, so there are about eight or ten in L.A. Their buildings are the size of football fields and really high with racks of clothing where we go get most of it.” Susan also shared that there are 52 wardrobe changes in an episode, and if you include the background actors it can go upwards of 100!
We had so much fun touring the live set of The Kids Are Alright. Have you ever wanted to visit the set of a sitcom? If so, which one?
“The Kids Are Alright” airs Tuesdays at 8:30|7:30c on ABC. You can also watch/rewatch via streaming (ABC app/ABC.com/Hulu) or On Demand.
A big thank you to The Kids Are Alright cast and crew for welcoming us on set and giving us a tour! A special thanks to Caleb Foote (“Eddie Cleary”) and Michael Cudlitz (“Mike Cleary”), production designer Michael Whetstone, set decorator Claudette Didul, costume designer Susan Michalek, line producer Kris Eber and show creator, showrunner and executive producer Tim Doyle.
Photo Credits: Coralie Seright (www.lovebugsandpostcards.com)