Carol Kane and Michaela Watkins share their funniest family dinner 'nightmares' (2024)

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Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone whose parents have mortified them over a meal.

“Dinner With the Parents” stars Carol Kane and Michaela Watkins have been there and share funny tales from their own family dinners — plus a slew of wonderful viewing recommendations — in this week’s Guest Spot.

Also in Screen Gab No. 128, we highlight two Peaco*ck titles to stream and celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Family Guy.”



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Carol Kane and Michaela Watkins share their funniest family dinner 'nightmares' (1)

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Recommendations from the film and TV experts at The Times

Carol Kane and Michaela Watkins share their funniest family dinner 'nightmares' (2)

Tim Downie attends the London screening of “How To Date Billy Walsh” at Conway Hall on April 2, 2024 in London, England.

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‘Hapless’ (Peaco*ck)

Gary Sinyor’s very funny British sitcom, whose two seasons have landed here, has regularly been compared to “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and certainly there are plotlines that would have served that series well. And, like Larry David, Paul Green (Tim Downie) has a tendency to get the short end of whatever stick he’s waving. But where Larry is a rich celebrity with too much time on his hands, Paul attacks the world from a less privileged position. A harried, middle-aged, low-grade reporter for “the fourth-largest Jewish publication in the U.K.,” he treats his banal assignments with a contemptuous lack of interest, even as he has a habit of questioning everything — even, or especially, things not worth questioning. (“The Jewish Enquirer” was the series’ original name.) Notable for the cultural specificity of its humor — I don’t know where else you’ll find jokes about wrapping tefillin — it can be, one might say, awkwardly timely. In one episode, Paul’s nephew is upset because “some kid in his school called him a racist Jew Zio.” “Doesn’t he go to a Jewish school?” Paul asks his sister. “Yes,” she replies. “I do know that. It’s on trend.” You just have to laugh. — Robert Lloyd

Carol Kane and Michaela Watkins share their funniest family dinner 'nightmares' (3)

Geraldine Viswanathan, left, and Margaret Qualley in “Drive-Away Dolls.”

(Wilson Webb / Working Title)

‘Drive-Away Dolls’ (Peaco*ck)

“Drive-Away Dolls” may not be entirely good, but it certainly is a lot of fun. For his first fiction feature made without his brother, Joel, Ethan Coen collaborated with wife Tricia Cooke to craft an outrageously flaky crime tale of two lesbian friends (Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan) who inadvertently end up driving a car with a severed head and a briefcase full of bespoke sex toys in the trunk. (Guess which causes them more trouble?) Despite brief supporting appearances by Colman Domingo, Pedro Pascal, Matt Damon, Bill Camp and Beanie Feldstein, the movie really belongs to the sweet chemistry between Viswanathan and Qualley: It’s at its best when it’s just the two of them hanging out. Plus, any longtime Coen brothers fans will want to check out the bawdy absurdity of Ethan’s solo effort as a point of comparison to Joel’s austere “The Tragedy of Macbeth” to attempt to unravel who was responsible for what in their indelible filmography together. — Mark Olsen


Catch up

Everything you need to know about the film or TV series everyone’s talking about

Carol Kane and Michaela Watkins share their funniest family dinner 'nightmares' (4)

Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein, cast members of Fox’s “Family Guy.”

(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times)

How often do we watch “Family Guy” at my house? Let’s just say my son now instinctively runs to the screen the moment the theme song starts playing, giggling as he sees the animated characters descend the golden staircase (I know, it’s not for kids, but we indulge him with the intro). It has long been a comfort show for me, ever since I started watching the series in the early aughts on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

What makes “Family Guy” good is that it’s silly, crass, satirical and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I never mind when it’s on because I know something in an episode will make me laugh. But what makes it great is its range, from zany musical numbers like “A Bag of Weed” to thoughtful explorations of its characters — the Season 8 bottle episode “Brian & Stewie” comes to mind.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of “Family Guy,” a major milestone considering how the show faced cancellation more than once. It is now one of the longest-running American animated series, behind stalwarts like “The Simpsons” and “South Park.” And now marks a good time to reflect on the series and how it has become a part of the pop culture zeitgeist. It just wrapped Season 22 on Wednesday, and the season finale is available to stream on Hulu.

This week, we published an interview with the showrunners and lead voice cast of “Family Guy,” including Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis and creator Seth MacFarlane. They spoke at length about their time on the show and how it’s the best job ever, and that’s what comes through in every episode — everyone is still having fun. MacFarlane said he doesn’t see a reason to stop, which is good news for fans of the show because we have plenty of reasons to keep watching. — Maira Garcia


READ MORE: ‘It’s the best job ever’: ‘Family Guy’ cast reflects on 25 years of irreverent humor

Guest spot

A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching

Carol Kane and Michaela Watkins share their funniest family dinner 'nightmares' (5)

Carol Kane, from left, Michaela Watkins and Mircea Monroe in “Dinner with the Parents.”

(Mark Johnson/CBS)

If you have watched TV comedy in the last 10 years, chances are Michaela Watkins and Carol Kane have made you laugh. In an array of recurring roles and guest spots, plus respective star turns in Hulu’s lovingly crafted family portrait “Casual” and Netflix’s gonzo joke factory “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” the pair have been omnipresent, but never together. Until now: “Dinner With the Parents,which premiered Thursday on Amazon Freevee, unites these forces for hilarity for the first time, along with Dan Bakkedahl, Jon Glaser and more. Based on the popular British series “Friday Night Dinner,” this version follows the Langers, including matriarch Nana (Kane) and her daughter, Jane (Watkins), as they assemble every Friday for a completely, totally normal family get-together. (Think “New Girl’s” True American transported to a suburban gated community.) Watkins and Kane stopped by Screen Gab in advance of the premiere to tell their own funniest dinner-with-the-parents stories, what they’re watching, and more. — Matt Brennan

What have you watched recently that you are recommending to everyone you know?

Watkins: I’ve been going back and rewatching movies that blew my mind when I saw them in the theater the first time. Perhaps the current state of our world is so chaotic, I’m longing for a time that I wasn’t so drained by knowing everything happening in our world all the time. “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind” [Starz], “The Ice Storm” [Max], “Time Bandits” [Max]. I finally saw the film “The King of Comedy” [Fubo]. That is an amazing movie. Sandra Bernhard — Oh my goodness! What a performance. A new show I’ve been watching lately and enjoying is “Palm Royale” [Apple TV+]. Everything all those actresses do is golden, but Kristen Wiig is always going to be the most intricate comedienne I have ever seen on screen.


Kane: I would say that TCM saves me in a special way. When I am able to see a movie in black-and-white I am somehow soothed and transported and inspired at the same time. The lighting can be so intricate and artful. I am an enormous admirer of Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Gary Cooper, Mary Astor. Davis has always been a great inspiration to me, because of her bravery and honesty on screen. Julie Harris in “Member of the Wedding” is so moving, breathtaking. Ethel Waters. Young Brandon de Wilde.

What is the movie or TV show you go back to again and again?

Kane: I cherish the works of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands. “A Woman Under the Influence,” “Opening Night.” [Both available on Max and Criterion Channel.] There is always more to see and learn there from both of them, as well as Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara! The cinematography of Al Ruban is in some way shattering. It’s so intimate. For a great comedy, I love “Annie Hall” [Prime Video, Fubo, MGM+] — Diane Keaton. Not to mention “Reds” [Pluto TV]. How can we even talk about anything directed by Martin Scorsese starring the magnificent Robert De Niro; they are my bucket list. I am forever grateful to have gotten to work with Mike Nichols, Hal Ashby and Cassavetes. I better stop now, i know your readers don’t have ALL DAY!

Watkins: “When Harry Met Sally” [VOD, multiple platforms]. I was in Budapest last year when I got COVID and the only thing that could give me any relief was watching it on my computer. It’s a perfect film. Start to finish.

Describe the most hilarious/embarrassing/wacky thing that ever occurred at dinner with your own parents.

Kane: My dad came to the dinner table in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1950s dressed as Marcel Marceau in white long johns and full clown-white Marceau makeup!


Watkins: When I was in my early 20s, my sister hosted Thanksgiving at her apartment in New York City. My whole family came, as well as her in-laws. I even invited my boyfriend so he could meet everyone for the first time. After countless hours in the oven, the turkey was still frozen. By the time we sat down to eat it, it was almost 10 p.m. My nervous boyfriend hadn’t eaten anything all day except a bottle of scotch. When he finally spoke, he stood up and yelled/slurred “I HOPE EVERYONE NOTICED I TOOK OFF MY HAT.” The look on my mother’s face still gives me nightmares.

Carol Kane and Michaela Watkins share their funniest family dinner 'nightmares' (2024)
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