At last, Josh Greenberg (Jay Baruchel) has found his woman. We’ve seen how he handles the daily pursuits of modern dating, but faced with long-term commitment, does he fare any better? That’s the central question going into season 3 of Man Seeking Woman, which premiered last week with “Futon” and introduced us to Lucy (Katie Findlay), Josh’s long-sought live-in girlfriend.
For those worried about the lack of blind dates with trolls and talking condoms begging to be used, there’s still plenty of surrealist, live-action cartoon fun at play here that captures the series’ distinct humor and makes it even stronger.
Rotten Tomatoes caught up with Baruchel to chat about bringing Lucy into the Man Seeking Woman mix, why this is the season the FXX series has earned, and what creator Simon Rich’s take on President-elect Donald Trump would look like.
Benjamin Lindsay for Rotten Tomatoes: This season is a lot different in the sense that it’s more “man finds woman” than “man seeking woman.” Tell us a bit about what’s in store for viewers.
Jay Baruchel: You hit it, man. It’s “man living with woman”— or tries to. It’s really, really exciting. It’s a testament to Simon [Rich] and our entire creative team that we can do as hard a pivot as we do this year and still make a show that is authentically Man Seeking Woman.
We do have a pretty huge shift in P.O.V. this year, and yet, every single one of those moments connects perfectly to the past two seasons’ worth of stories. When Simon told me that that was the direction we were going in, I was super excited. We had done such a great job of doing our take on the degradation of being single and dating and humiliation and all that good stuff. But to see what these same minds’ take was on what it is to live with someone long-term and to try to share a life together….
This is all to say that as crazy as it ever got when Josh was single, it gets so much f—ing crazier now that he has a woman living with him, which I think would be in keeping with most people’s experiences.
RT: One of my favorite things is that, yes, it’s a different spin on Josh’s perspective, but then you also get this entirely new perspective with Lucy. What was it like bringing her into the fold?
Baruchel: It’s not an easy task because our show is nothing if not specific. So to bring in another hero’s P.O.V. that can check all those same boxes that Josh did and then some is no small task.
I think they did an incredible job in crafting Lucy and finding a human being with blood and emotion and nuance and contradictory emotions and all the things that make a real person a real person. I think all of that was really on paper in a big way, and then Katie Findlay shows up and just takes the f—in’ baton and runs home right to the gold medal at the podium. She’s destroying it. The audience falls in love with her and sees why Josh does; the audience roots for her and seamlessly ends up being right beside her on her journey.
I think she’s funny and uncommon and petty and strong, and all the different things that Josh is, too. But again, we have the best writers on television, so it’s not crazy to me, and Katie’s a f—ing incredible actress, so none of this is a shock. It’s just neat to have something that’s so different that is still at the same time so similar and so truthful.
RT: What does the writers’ room look like? Are you involved in that process at all?
Baruchel: Simon does an incredible job of putting together an elite S.A.S. squad of comedy minds. And throughout every year, he’s been incredibly kind and welcoming and has brought me into the room the past few seasons. Now, whether or not he’s just humoring me or he’s actually using the stuff I say in there, that’s up to him and it’s really irrelevant to me, as well. But I know that they get this show and this character super well, and I think that they know that I get the character and the show real well, too.
If nothing else, just having me in there might spawn something in their minds because, you know, I’d like to think that I’m at least close-to-expert on Josh Greenberg at this point. So yeah, they let me pitch all sorts of stuff. And that translates [and] continues on set, as well.
We have this awesome sandbox up in Toronto where no idea is wrong and no improv is wrong, and you always get to say your piece. We’re all incredibly proud and we all take ownership of it.
RT: What’s your personal favorite thing about navigating Josh’s story? He’s grown so much from season 1 to season 3.
Baruchel: He truly has. But my personal favorite stuff about Josh is his inherently petty [perspective]. Like, he’s a good guy, he really is. He’s a good lad, and his heart and his intentions are always on the right side of things, without fail.
That being said, he’s gotten his ass kicked a bunch of times and has his issues about it, and so sometimes his priorities are out of whack, and that’s when I have the most fun — is when Josh gets fixated on something that is of no import to anybody, and it ruins his whole f—in’ thing. There’s something really sad and almost Alan Partridge about it, and that’s my f—in’ personal favorite stuff to play. That, or when he has a drunken meltdown. Those are personally the most fun to do.
RT: The Season 3 premiere had Josh getting to know Lucy’s roommates, only to be met by border patrol as an “illegal” boyfriend. That’s funny in itself, but also a wink and nod to real-world issues. Will this season be tackling any more of that?
Baruchel: I mean, it’s in the water, it’s in the air, right? Any show worth itself will be informed by the zeitgeist of the air that it’s in. So yeah, we’re in a very — I’m trying to think of the most polite, diplomatic way to put this — we’re in a very colorful time in the scope of western history right now, and there’s a clash of some very strong ideas.
Our show is written by smart people and it’s watched by smart people, so if there’s stuff that’s affecting people out there, there’s a chance it’s affecting us as well, and it will probably find its way into our show.
RT: Right. A lot of the time, it’s in that clash of ideas that humor can be found. It’s a little dark and twisted, but there’s still a humor to it.
Baruchel: I agree completely, man. You know, I’m Jewish on my dad’s side and Irish on my mother’s side, and one of the things that those two people have in common is having the world kick our asses, and as a result, [they’ve got] the best sense of humor there is. I think it’ll save us. Gallows humor — there’s nothing you can’t tackle with it.
I, like anybody else in the developed world, am incredibly nervous about the next few years to come. So if we can make a few people laugh on the way, then that’s pretty good, I guess.
RT: I wouldn’t mind seeing a surrealist Man Seeking Woman take on Trump — a talking toupee or something.
Baruchel: [Laughs] Yeah, a talking orange hairpiece, or just one of those orange garbage bags you fill with leaves on the side of the road. There’s a bunch of different ways — I think we could probably do it pretty good.
RT: We’re brainstorming here. We’re in the early stages.
Baruchel: We’ve got a few years to figure it out.
RT: Now going into Episode 302, this is the big meeting between Lucy and Josh’s mom and stepdad. I loved Liz’s arc in this one, too. Will we be seeing more of her this season? She’s had a couple standalone episodes that have really been highlights for fans.
Baruchel: Yeah, there’s a great Liz episode. In my opinion, Britt Lower is one of the great, underrated talents on TV right now. I think she’s just gorgeous and compassionate and real and funny, and everyone on our show is aware of this. She gets a pretty awesome episode that actually features our father, Mr. Greenberg, who as of yet has only ever been mentioned, so you’ll finally get to meet him this year.
RT: Sounds like there may be some emotional depths to that, too, then.
Baruchel: That’s it. To quote Simon Rich, this is the season we’ve earned. We’ve done two years tracking and building and also living in moments, but I also think that we now have a bit of an infrastructure under us and a world that we’ve created, and so now we get to visit that world and we get to surprise people. I think people are going to be caught unawares and surprised how much this season is going to move them if they stick through it.
RT: I also wanted to ask you about sharing the screen with Eric Andre. In addition to Man Seeking Woman, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know his work through The Eric Andre Show. Do you watch by chance?
Baruchel: Of course, yeah! It’s f—ing insane.
RT: It’s crazy right? I love it. Has he asked you to join him as a guest?
Baruchel: Oh god, no — he knows better than that. Eric is just this fearless, pure, artistic soul, and he puts me to shame because there’s nothing he won’t do in service of the scene or the joke. And it makes me want to try harder because he’s out there pounding the pavement, beating the living s— out of himself just to make people laugh. When you’re faced with that, it’s kind of hard not to be inspired by it. And he’s just a really kind, smart, uncommon guy and I just enjoy his company. Getting to work with him everyday, whether we’re saying really f—ed up things to each other or whether we’re earnestly talking about the logistical breakdown of the Third Reich, we just always have very, very sincere conversations. We’re incredibly nerdy is what I’m driving at, which I’m sure comes as a surprise to no one.
RT: He really does leave that show bruised and bloodied. Do you ever do your own stunts? Episode 302 has you doing some parkour and getting beat up by your step dad. Is that you?
Baruchel: Oh, no. They wouldn’t let me even if I cared to. Although there’s times I have to. When Tanaka ejaculated in my face in season 1, there was no double for that. So it depends on the severity of the gag. But I stopped being a cowboy with anything to prove years ago. [Laughs]. If there’s a plate glass window for someone to be chucked through and there’s someone else who would rather do it, it’s all theirs.
RT: That’s probably wise.
Baruchel: My friends that work in stunts agree with me.
RT: Looking to your FXX contemporaries, you’ve got It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Archer — cult comedies that, once they find their footing, are in it for the long haul. Do you envision that or hope for that with Man Seeking Woman?
Baruchel: Oh gosh, I have no idea. I’m such an idiot when it comes to this stuff. For me, I swear to god, I didn’t think we’d get to do more than a pilot because it’s so earnest and weird and unique and its own thing. For those reasons alone, those are usually adjectives mentioned after a show gets cancelled. So I never thought we’d do more than a pilot, certainly didn’t think we’d get to season 2, definitely didn’t think we’d get to the end of season 3. You know, I call our show our little pirate ship; we’re kind of getting away with something because we get to make the show that we want to make, and that’s bloody uncommon. I’m going to be 35 this year. I’ve been acting for 23 years, and this is the exception, not the rule. It’s a great f—ing gig and I love watching it, so I will captain that pirate ship as long as they ask me. In terms of how long that’ll be? No idea.
RT: It’s funny: Three seasons in, and it still feels like a well-kept secret.
Baruchel: That’s how we feel. All are welcome, but at the same time, we’re really thankful for and devoutly connected to our loyal fans. There are kids that have been watching since the pilot. It’s like when you find a band that you like that speaks to you, there is something melancholy if that band gets real big, so I like making records for the kids who have always dug us. But like I said: All are welcome.
Man Seeking Woman airs on Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. on FXX