It must be liberating to say, “Parenting can kind of suck.” Have you been inundated with feedback from parents thanking you for admitting that?
It has been very humbling and lovely having these conversations with people since it aired. When I first had my son, I remember breathing a sigh of relief when my sister would say, “It’s revolting. It’s
a nightmare.” I like that the show has done that on a larger stage. A lot of the other actors have told me about sitting on a plane and someone turning to them and going, “I’ve got a 4-month-old at home and blah, blah, blah,” opening up about their own challenges. When I’m at the park with my kid, particularly in Sydney, I get parents telling me about their experiences or saying how they sobbed when they watched the series, at which point I apologise. I hope it brings people a bit of laughter and not just PTSD.
You’re providing a lot of free therapy to parents.
There’s a little bit of that. And that’s fine by me – it makes me feel better, too, that I’m not alone.
What’s it been like since the show has been picked up globally by Netflix?
We get feedback from all over the world, which is extraordinary. I was in New York and a woman from South Korea came up and said, “Are you from The Letdown?” That was a bizarre and incredible moment. We get a lot of social media interaction from women all over the world and that’s blown us away that people from all different cultures have found something in this story that we thought was quite specific to us and our culture. Some of the struggles with the transition into parenting are more universal than we anticipated.
How much of your own life makes the show?
Audrey is not me and nor is she [co-creator] Sarah [Scheller]. She’s an amalgamation of some of our personal experiences plus experiences of women close to us. She is a fiction, but she hangs together with all these real-life experiences. There is a lot of our own stuff in there – I won’t tell you what’s what! – but there is also a lot of my experiences in Ester (Sacha Horler), for example. I certainly was a working mother straight after having my child.
It’s not just our experiences. No-one’s stories are safe with us. If our friends tell us anything funny or embarrassing, I start writing it down. I’m stealing everything from everyone. We’re shameless about that. We did it quite formally at the start – I sent questions out to people I knew and got feedback, then anyone who’s close to us knows anything they tell us is now up for grabs.
What can non-parents get out of The Letdown? Other than the message don’t become parents.
[Laughs] They can get a warning out of it. Beyond that, I hope it’s not relatable only to people who are going through the early stages of parenting. I’m really proud it has a very female perspective and voice. I’ve had a lot of young women talk to me about it who don’t have children on the horizon. I’m guessing it’s because it’s women telling this story and we’ve had a lot of control. It’s also a relationship comedy. Outside the parenting stuff, we wanted to focus on what’s happening to the couples or friendships. I hope it’s those details that make this more than just a parenting show.