HBO is launching a new half-hour comedy series Wednesday (March 19) called “Doll & Em,” which is a fictionalized look at the real-life friendship between stars and creators Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer.
The comedy follows Mortimer, star of HBO drama “The Newsroom,” playing an outrageous version of herself, who hires a down-on-her-luck Wells as her new personal assistant. Naturally, a life-long friendship turned into an employee-employer relationship is rife with uncomfortable comedy, which Mortimer tells Zap2it was the aim.
“We had this idea about an assistant and being curious about that relationship, the relationship that people have with their assistants, which is very — there’s room for massive amounts of confusion, there’s a lot of gray area and overlapping a bit of business and private lives, and how difficult that can be, even when they’re not each other’s oldest childhood friend,” says Mortimer. “We imagined putting a friendship like ours in that kind of jeopardy, by having one working for the other as a personal assistant and it made us laugh and cringe at how fun it would be.”
Part of the reason the two are able to have such terrible things happen to this fictionalized version of themselves is because they’ve been so close for so long.
“The friendship that we have is a very uncomplicated relationship where we love and respect and
trust each other very much … hopefully the awesome thing we set up for the audience is this confusingly real rapport that we have together,” says Mortimer. “We set up a baseline of reality — we really do know each other that well, we really are that close — and then we f*** with it by putting that relationship in jeopardy in a way that we never have in real life. We get a sick kick out of imagining these things because they’d never happen.”
Mortimer adds that the employee/employee relationship “comes out of an act of love, of people trying to be nice to each other, but it ends up having kind of the opposite effect.”
She also teases for Zap2it that not only does the on-screen relationship between “Doll & Em” shift a bit as the season goes on, but there’s also a spitting incident.
“There’s a shift in the power dynamic, where the master becomes the servant and the servant becomes the master,” says Mortimer. “Doll ends up becoming the diva, in a way, and she’s still trying to be my assistant and she’s slightly driving me mad, so we were trying to think of the worst thing you can do as an actor on set to an assistant and we decided it was to spit at them.”
“Doll & Em” premieres Wednesday (March 19) at 10 p.m. ET/PT with back-to-back episodes. The six-episode series will air over three weeks.