Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
The producers and cast of NickMom‘s Instant Mom — the first original scripted comedy series for the nighttime mother-centric programming block of the Nick Jr. network — emphasized this morning at TCA that the sitcom is a rarity for television these days. One reason is that it features a predominantly African-American cast. The other is that it’s shot in front of a live audience, which star Tia Mowry-Hardrict believes gives it a different vibe. “There’s a different pace to having a live audience,” she said. “It really changes the show,” agreed castmate Michael Boatman. “You rehearse all week. You sort of laugh internally. The producers laugh. You hear the beats. But it’s just not the same.” What you lose with a laughtrack, Boatman finds, is the chuckling at unpredictable moments. “The responses you get from a live audience provide a different type of typography for a show. It’s too bad that it’s such a rare thing these days, because it definitely brings a livelier energy as well as drawing the viewer in in a little more organic way.” Exec producer Howard Gould added that, as a writer, the live audience keeps him honest. “In the writers room on rewrite nights, when you know you’re going to have a live audience in place,” he says, “if it’s not funny enough you can stay and work another half-hour or an hour and make it as funny as it needs to be to work. It’s a little old school, but it’s a rich area of television that I think has been overlooked.”
In terms of having a predominantly black cast, castmate and veteran actress Sheryl Lee Ralph expressed hope that “folks will see this show and take on us with other shows — that you will see more color coming into television that represents America in its true diversity. Because it’s lacking on TV. And it’s lacking in this room, too.” That inspired the very white Gould to quip, “We hope to open things up for Jewish producers, too.”
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- Michael Boatman