The charming "Up All Night" (Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET) has always seemed a little like the red-headed stepchild of NBC's comedy line-up; it doesn't have the cult following of "Community" or the critical acclaim of "30 Rock," nor did it earn the instant derision of "Animal Practice." But despite a freshman season that featured at least three major shifts in direction, it still managed to be a warm-hearted, frequently funny series about a young couple (Christina Applegate and Will Arnett) dealing with the trials and tribulations of parenthood, with a working mom and a stay-at-home dad to offer a fresh perspective on a familiar concept.
Season 2 of "Up All Night" saw yet another shift, with the dissolution of Maya Rudolph's Oprah-esque talk show-within-a-show that kept host, Ava, busy for most of last season. Now that "The Ava Show" has been canceled, Ava and her best friend/producer Reagan (Applegate) have been relegated back to suburbia, and dad Chris (Arnett) is tasked with being the breadwinner while Reagan takes some time at home with daughter Amy. The show also decided to add another series regular, Reagan's laid-back brother Scott (Luka Jones) to reinforce that family dynamic.
HuffPost TV visited the set to talk with Applegate and Arnett about the progression of the series, real-life parenthood, the addition of Scott and the success of their other projects.
It seems that there’s much more of a focus on the family aspects of the show this season, and you're both staying in the neighborhood as opposed to Reagan being off at the studio. Are you happy with that change? Does it feel more natural at this point?
Arnett: Yeah, I think that we’re doing a good job in all the stories of getting down to the core of what makes the show work and certainly, that holds true for our characters and even for the Ava character ... kind of bringing everybody [together], making it much more home-based in the lives of these people because maybe last year, we kind of spread it out too much.
Applegate: It was like two different shows, and it’s not that it was bad -- people loved it ... I think the person that benefits the most is Ava because we get to see her outside of that environment. She was always stuck in those hallways of that studio and now….
Arnett: You get to see her in life.
Applegate: Maya/Ava gets to have a lot more guests that are fun and different and she gets to be in different environments and kind of explore who she is as a person, besides just being a celebrity and besides just being that entity.
Arnett: Yeah, you see the relationship between these three characters in a real way.
Can you talk a little bit about what you feel Scott has brought to the show as things have evolved?
Applegate: Kind of a balance, I think, to the neuroses of the other three people. It’s nice to have someone who kind of anchors everyone a little bit.
Arnett: You get to see some context too for Reagan and for her character because I think last year we explored a lot of Reagan’s character and even though we had parents come in and out, by having this Scott character there, you really get to see where she came from and what she is about and it helps explore her character on a deeper level.
Earlier this season, the first two or three episodes, there was a kind of tension between your characters as you settled into new roles, with Reagan staying at home and Chris going into work. Is that going to continue?
Applegate: No, I don’t think we’ll be bickering in that sense. I think that what people love and I think what Will and I love the most is when Reagan and Chris are really a team. They make a good team and they really do love each other. I prefer it when it’s like that than us being at odds with one another. I think a lot of shows, the married couple, the comedy, it's always coming out of them bickering and I think what is really unique about our show is that the comedy comes out of them being a team and working together for a common goal. I think we’re going to see more of that and I’m glad that we are because I enjoy that. I enjoy getting to do those things where he and I are partners in crime.
Arnett: Ditto. [Laughs.]
Reagan is very Type A and seemed to thrive at work, is she going to have difficulty settling back into being at home all the time?
Applegate: I think she’s going to start to itch. She’s already starting to itch in these next episodes that we’ve been shooting. She needs something more. A personality like that can’t just be stuck in one place -- not that she doesn’t appreciate getting to spend time with her daughter. I mean, I can relate to that more than anything in the world. That’s my life. All I want to do is be home with [daughter Sadie] and get to spend time, but I know that after a while, you kind of go, "OK. I've got to do something else too, in addition to." Wouldn’t trade it for a second.
Turning to your other projects for a moment; Christina, it seemed like everyone had something positive to say about your hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live," which never seems to happen these days. How was it for you?
Applegate: It was a blast, I have to say. I would go do that again, and again, and again. Even as crazy as it is, what an amazing, well-oiled machine they are over there. It’s amazing that they do that every week. From the top down, it’s incredible. So that was a huge, huge honor and really exciting. And I'm so, so grateful to my Lorne, Lorne Michaels for having me.
Will, everyone is so excited for the return of "Arrested Development." I know Mitch Hurwitz is keeping everything close to the vest, but can you say anything about the new season?
Arnett: Yeah, I can tell you the plot. [Laughs.] No, it’s been going great. I can’t really get into any of the specifics, but I can say that we kind of pick up right where we left off with these characters. You see what they’ve been doing for the last six years and I’ll say this ... It’s kind of like everything you would hope for that these characters would do. They’re in every awful situation and they, once again, left to their own devices, become the worst versions of themselves.
Does it feel like a nice family reunion, getting the gang back together after all this time?
Arnett: Yeah, it is a family reunion. I don’t know if I’d say nice. [Laughs.] No, for me, it’s great -- it’s been so much fun working with everybody again. It’s been so interesting and fun and exciting.
"Up All Night" airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.