Made by Schitt River and Kim’s Convenience alum Kurt Smeaton, sitcom Kids Ruin Everything follows Astrid (Meaghan Rath) and James (Aaron Abrams), a Toronto couple struggling to raise their two young children, Viv and Felix. As expected, excitement ensues as these little carpet mice wreak havoc. When parenthood wears them down, foodies Astrid and James yearn for their childhood’s peaceful and quiet existence, romantic moments, and out-of-town dinners. Can these two survive until they know everything and fake their own identities outside of their children while maintaining their sanity at the same time? Will their best friend Ennis (Ennis Esmer) hit all the wrong buttons in the process?
Rath, Abrams, and Esmer recently spoke with CBR about children’s crimes, their own childhoods, the importance of representation, and instilling love and compassion into each episode.
CBR: Audiences may recognize you all by more dramatic rates like Be human, Hawaii Five-0, Hannibal, Beginner Blue, Blind spotand Listener. How does it feel to step into something lighter in tone than just a guest appearance, and really stretch some of those comedic muscles?
Aaron Abrams: I’m lucky not to be put in any box, so I can play bad guys and good guys and drama and comedy. It’s always a dream to do something different than you’ve ever done before. Doing this hilarious show, with gifted children and very personal writing, is certainly a real gift.
Meaghan Rath: I’ve done quite a bit of comedy throughout my career, so it’s not a massive stretch. I like to mix it up, but what’s great about comedy is that my life feels lighter when I do it. It’s so much fun that the hardest part of my day is trying to figure out the funniest version of doing something.
What’s fun about being a non-parent getting sucked into all the chaos and antics?
Ennis Esmer: The best part about not having kids is that you can be around the kids as long as you want, and then you can go home. The kids enjoyed my presence because I was like having a cameo in the movie of their life. So, I can do all my best material and bounce and never exceed my welcome.
Aaron, between Astrid and James, who do you think are the good parents/police versus the bad parents/cops in this series and why?
abrams: What I like about the dynamics of Astrid and James is that they are a very compact team. I think in a lot of traditional sitcoms, you see dad is a guy who prefers to watch the game while mom does the discipline. There’s emotional intelligence in Astrid and James, equality and love for each other and their children… I think it makes things even funnier when these two very competent people are still overwhelmed with the impossible task of parenting.
What were you like as a child? Is there a horrendous story that should or should be made in the series?
abrams: I was the annoying kid who was put in acting lessons because I needed a lot of attention. So, in a way, that makes it a series?
Rath: I told the whole swim team that I went to California on vacation and am now dating Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I also told them I was John Travolta’s daughter and actually made up a dog I didn’t own. It’s a shame when my dad, who wasn’t John Travolta, had to tell other parents it wasn’t true.
What scene made you laugh?
abrams: I love it when Astrid loses her cool. James felt a little more sensitive, a little more out of control than Astrid . . . but the moments when Astrid actually lost were my favourites. Meaghan is really cute when she lets it rip. There’s a scene where he’s doing it with his sister and making a big old “Uh, d’oh!” that shakes my bones and gets me every time.
Rath: The dinner scene in Episode 7 where we asked my sister and her husband to be our children’s guardians if we died.
Despite the awful days Astrid and James sometimes have, there are still plenty of love and family moments. How important is it to embed that heart into every episode?
abrams: I think any event that leads to love can connect with people. Lucky for us, Kurt Smeaton puts his whole heart on every page and draws so much from his personal experience… Hearts just got put into the script.
Rath: In the end, this show is a love letter to parents. This is a big part of the show. Astrid and James try to hold on to the life they once had before starting a family, but in the end, they know that will change forever. There’s no turning back. They love being parents and partners, and they’re good at it. There’s excitement in it, and it’s very important that that element of the show always shows up.
Meaghan, you were five months pregnant while filming. Come to think of it, how much do you feel living imitating art? In what ways are you more in touch with your character now than ever before?
Rath: I think I have a handle on how accurate the show is, but I’m totally blown away by its specificity now that I have a baby. It’s very triggering.
Meaghan, what does it mean to you to be an executive producer on the show? How active are you in shaping the content?
Rath: I am very lucky to be part of this amazing team. They were very receptive to any creative input I had regarding the characters, the tone, the casting process. It’s been very useful.
Lastly, the household, and the cast, are multiracial. Can you talk about that kind of representation in comedy? In 2022, it feels like this should become the norm.
Rath: Our family on the show looks like my family in real life. My family was mixed up, and growing up, I never saw anyone who looked like me on TV. I really thought it was impossible for me to be the actor I wanted to be because the only people I saw on TV who looked like I had very minor roles. It’s great to be a part of something that reflects the way the world actually looks.
Esmer: Yes, I agree. More different kinds of people should be on TV because there are a lot of different people in the world, and it would be weird if there was only one kind [person] shown on TV, right? The writers and producers on this show also do their homework. So it’s a good idea to work on something that doesn’t feel like they’re just making it up while they’re moving on or they’re not doing the research.
Season 1 Kids Ruined Everything is streaming now on The Roku Channel.
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