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Interview: Kether Donohue

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Currently airing its first season on FX, the series You're the Worst has become one of the standout hits on the network and has a very vocal and loyal fanbase. One of the reasons the series has such a rabid following is the work of actress Kether Donohue. Kether plays Lindsay, the best friend to Gretchen (Aya Cash) and the only married one in the group. Her marriage to Paul (Allan McLeod) is one of the more interesting relationships on the series. Did she marry Paul for his money or does she truly love him?

Kether has built up a solid resume of work in the theater, film and television. She's appeared on television series such as The Carrie Diaries, Perfect Couples and Hope & Faith. Her film credits include Pitch Perfect, The Bay and Collar. She's also well known for her voiceover work on series like Kurokami: The Animation and Pokemon.

Kether sat down with us to discuss her character Lindsay, the relationship between Gretchen and Lindsay and who she really thinks is the worst.

Pop Culture Principle – When you read the pilot script for You’re the Worst, what made you want to be a part of the project?

Kether Donohue –Everything about it. For one, the creator of our show Stephen Falk has an impressive body of work. I’m a huge fan of Orange is the New Black and Weeds. I love his sense of humor and also the dramatic side that he brings to every script, even if it’s a comedy. Also the fact that this is a half hour comedy, but it’s not a superficial surface comedy with service characters. There is a lot of depth to it and it has dramatic elements that could stand as a drama on its own. Lindsay and Edgar could have easily been written as sidekick characters that just make people laugh. There isn’t anything wrong with that because every comedy has the sidekick friend and that’s great, but he really gave a unique twist to the sidekick and made them dark in and off themselves.

Another thing is that I met Aya in 2010 through auditioning in New York because it’s such a small community of actors. When I saw her at the chemistry read, we were very excited to see each other. It wasn’t a surprise that we had good chemistry because we already knew each other.

Pop Culture Principle – In what ways are you like Lindsay and in what ways are you not like Lindsay?

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Kether Donohue – When you are yourself in everyday life, you aren’t very objective about yourself. People see things in you that you don’t see and I think it’s kind of the same when you play a character. It’s not an intellectual process; it’s a very visceral experience if you know what I mean. In many ways I feel like it’s kind of a blessing that I don’t have Lindsay pigeon holed into what her traits are.

But to answer your question, one of the ways I am like Lindsay is that I like to eat a lot as well. When I was cast, I was thrilled and grateful because I could just each French fries and burgers and it doesn’t matter if I gain a few pounds. I am pretty bold and out there like she is and I don’t think she has a filter. I have been in romantic situations where I have been conflicted and I definitely could relate to that. Sometimes in your life you are in a relationship and you like the safety and the security of that relationship, but you are not quite sure if it is the right thing for you.

I’m not like Lindsay in the fact that I do have a job and I don’t want to rely on my future husband for money. I think I have a more stable family life than she does and I am a bit more grounded in life than Lindsay is. I think Lindsay has a way of looking at life that she thinks life should be a certain way with checklists and boxes and I don’t really see life that way. I allow myself to go with the flow a little bit more without such a fear of judgment and I think Lindsay is very afraid of society’s opinion of her and I’m not that concerned.

Pop Culture Principle – How much input do you have with your character and are you allowed any improvisation with your role?

Kether Donohue – Stephen’s writing is so good and so unique, there is really no need to improv. It’s kind of an understood thing on set that we all stick to the script. Of course, Stephen cares about our import about the characters, so it has nothing to do with that. If we are on set and we all kind of come up with something spur of the moment and it works, then sure we’ll throw it in there. To be honest, the script is so tight, well-written and specific to each character that there is really a need to improvise.

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Pop Culture Principle – FX is known for pushing boundaries with its shows. How freeing is it as an actor to be on a show like You’re the Worst that definitely pushes the boundaries?

Kether Donohue – It’s great! I think all of the cast in everyday life are the kinds of people who push boundaries and we are so out there and free-spirited. We all get along so well and have really become a family. Every Thursday we get together and have viewing parties and we just fit. I think everyone’s energy in the show fits and we all vibe with the FX Network. FX has been so supportive and I have never in my life experienced such positivity from network executives. Even when we were shooting the pilot, the FX executives would come by and say hello and it felt like they were our friends. They all have such great energy and are so personable and they genuinely love the show. Everyone knew right away that it was a great fit.

Pop Culture Principle – With the show pushing the envelope, is there any concern that the series may go too far?

Kether Donohue – Not at all. Stephen said it perfectly in an interview once that we aren’t showing anything more than what people are doing in the privacy of their own homes. If someone out there does think that we are pushing the boundaries or going too far, then they are in denial that they experience that level of sexuality in their own lives. We are not these cookie cutter, black and white human beings that fit inside a box. Everybody is complicated, everybody has raunchy sex and if you don’t, you are thinking about it. Let’s get real, everybody is a little out there and if you aren’t, you are fantasizing what it would be to be out there. We are kind of telling it how it is and we are reflecting the human condition. If that is too much for someone to handle, than that is their own issue of not being able to accept their own humanity.

Pop Culture Principle – Lindsay and Gretchen have such a long history together. Do you think there will ever be a time where one or the other goes too far and pushes the other away or is that just how their relationship is?

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Kether Donohue – I think it’s absolutely a possibility and I think that is true with female friendships in real life. I think Stephen has done a great job at capturing the friction between two female women in their mid-twenties. I’ve had girlfriends that I have been friends with since high school and college and we are still friends to this day. Obviously, in our early twenties, mid-twenties and late twenties, we are all going through different stages in our lives. One person is having a lot of success in her career and the other person isn’t. One person may have a boyfriend and the other one doesn’t. You are all going through such different things in your lives and even though you love each other and have that connection, it’s inevitable that you are going to have fallout and periods where you don’t talk. I think Stephen has already shown that between us and I think there are possibilities to explore that. I think we are doing that and it’s great to watch.

Pop Culture Principle – At the beginning of the season, although Lindsay is married, there seems to be some tension within her marriage. Would you agree?

Kether Donohue – I think what is so great is the fact that the show does a great job with the first few episodes of setting up the foundation and seeing the early seeds of relationships. In the middle part of the season, episodes five, six and seven, they dig a little deeper. In episodes eight, nine and ten you go a little further. With the relationships between Lindsay and Gretchen and Lindsay and Paul, you are going to find out more about their relationships in the final episodes, but I don’t want to give anything away.

Pop Culture Principle – All of the main cast members have a theater background. How does your theater background help with your work on You’re the Worst?

Kether Donohue – When I was doing theater in New York, I found that’s when I learned how to be present and in the moment. You also learn how to keep things fresh. When you are doing a play eight times a week or a show every night, you quickly learn that you can’t be a mechanical robot and do the same thing every night. The energy and the audience in the room are different every night and you have to find a way to stay inspired and keep things fresh. You can’t rely on editing because there is no editing! You are on stage from beginning to end and there is nowhere to hide. You are on stage so whatever you are doing, it better be real and believable or at the very least interesting. So, I think having that theater background has helped all of us when we are on set and doing multiple takes. I think it also helps with the chemistry of the cast. When we are on set, you just feel that energy when you are connecting with that actor in the scene. It’s definitely not a coincidence that we all have a theater background and I think it helped us get the parts and have chemistry on set as well.

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Pop Culture Principle – Although these characters are a little damaged in their own ways, they are still loveable. Would you agree?

Kether Donohue – Absolutely! No one would want to keep tuning in every week if we were unlikeable and we just had negative traits. I think everyone tunes in every week and continues to like the show because they see themselves in these characters. At the end of the day, that is why anyone is an artist. Whether you are a writer, actor, singer or editor, we all do it because we enjoy expressing our human nature in whatever craft it is that we like to do. In this particular craft and the medium of television, we are portraying characters that are our reflection of every one of the viewers and the viewers like seeing themselves in us. Sometimes you hate yourself and sometimes you love yourself and it’s complicated. I think the writers have done a great job being honest about unlikeable people who are likeable at the end of the day.

Pop Culture Principle – So, who is the worst?

Kether Donohue – I think Lindsay is the worst, I really do. I think whenever anyone of the cast is asked that question, they don’t want to be the worst. I am proud to say that I think I am the worst!

We would like to thank Kether for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk with us about her work on You're the Worst. If you would like to keep up to date with her career, you can click the links below! You're the Worst airs Thursdays at 10:30 pm/et on FX.

LINKS

Official Kether Donohue website

Official Kether Donohue Twitter

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