“UnPrisoned” is here. The new comedy series starring Kerry Washington and Delroy Lindo has captured critics and audiences alike since it premiered last week on Hulu. TheGrio caught up with the two stars ahead of the series premiere on the streamer, breaking down the powerful story they are telling and the deliberate choice to approach it through an organic comedic lens.
The new series is a half hour comedy from creator and executive producer Tracy McMillan that takes a page from her life. It follows Paige Alexander (Washington), a “messy but perfectionist” relationship therapist and single mother whose life gets thrown a major curveball when her estranged father Edwin (Lindo) moves in with her and her teenage son after he is released from prison.
The show highlights the dynamic relationships we have with our parents, the experience of formerly incarcerated people, the families that love them and the ways in which we all heal from familial trauma.
The synopsis might suggest a more serious tone for this story — as previously mentioned — but the show is deliberately a comedy, an aspect that immediately enticed both Washington and Lindo. “It’s fun for me to talk about the tone of the show because I don’t think Delroy or I consider ourselves comedic actors,” Washington explained.
“But this was very clearly sold to me and to Delroy as a comedy, as a dramedy. But we didn’t approach it looking for laugh lines or hitting jokes … we wanted to be real human beings, and if there was gonna be humor, we wanted it to be the kind of humor that comes from humanity, from lived experiences.”
“The truth in other words,” Lindo added. “Play the truth of the various situations and that will resonate as humorous.”
Continued Washington, “So the tone I think grows out of this beautiful marriage between a bunch of dramatic actors and a bunch of comedy writers working together to find this mix of poignant humor.”
Through the comedic approach, the story is able to show more shades of human experience, making for a larger and more whole experience, Lindo noted. “It’s so large and faceted and it’s ringing various bells,” he said. “It’s musical.”
Through Paige’s profession as a relationship therapist, the audience is also introduced to various psychological theories and terms like “Attachment Theory” and “Mother Wound,” something Washington hopes will help viewers. “We want people when they watch this show to hear things that they’ve never heard before, to be exposed to things they’ve never thought of before, to think about the 80 million Americans who live with a criminal record in this country and the families that love them, to think about therapy and attachment theory and mother wounds … that’s great,” she said.
“Primarily we want to entertain,” she concluded. “But if we can grow folks and move folks and inspire folks to see themselves, to see who they want to be and who they don’t want to be … that would be great!”
“UnPrisoned” is currently streaming on Hulu.
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