‘Housebroken’ Creators & Stars On Animated Comedy’s Genesis During Production On ‘Veep’ & Prep That Goes Into Portraying Anthropomorphic Animals

The creators and stars of Housebroken gathered virtually on Thursday to tease their adult animated sitcom, which centers on pets in group therapy.

During a panel, as part of the Fox Entertainment Summer Press Tour, co-creator/EPs Clea DuVall, Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden explained that the initial idea for the series came to DuVall while the trio were working on HBO comedy, Veep.

“I have a cat who I have a very complicated relationship with, who just seems permanently dissatisfied, and I wanted more than anything to be able to go to a counselor together [and figure out how] I could finally make her happy,” explained DuVall, who also voices the role of corgi Elsa. “Then, I just started thinking about, that would just be such a great idea for a show, is getting at what animals’ interior lives are really like.”

“Clea came to us right after a Veep table read and was talking about going to therapy with her cat, and then the three of us honed [in on] the group therapy idea,” said Allan. “Because we love therapy, we love animals, and we also thought it would be a great way to look at human issues, in a way that felt palatable and universal for everybody.”

The way the series would get at humanity, Allan added, was by exploring “how much we project onto [our pets], and how much they bring that into the world.”

In conversation with DuVall, Allan, Crittenden and FOX Entertainment’s President of Entertainment, Michael Thorn, voice actors Lisa Kudrow, Nat Faxon, Will Forte, Jason Mantzoukas and Sam Richardson, and EP/actor Sharon Horgan joked about the prep that went into their turns as anthropomorphic animals.

“I have two cats at home, and I drew so much from my cat Gus for this show, Like, [my character] Chico is so much of my cat Gus, [I think] I owe my cat a check,” said Richardson.

“Anticipate a lawsuit from Gus,” Allan joked.

“I’ve never had a cat before, so I worked with Sam’s cat Gus for six months, in a very immersive kin of cat boot camp,” ad libbed Mantzoukas. “[I] really was able, with Gus‘s help, to find my character..”

“l’ll tell you what,” Richardson riffed, “if you go into that workshop with no ego, you learn so much.”

Another topic of conversation was the animals the actors see themselves as, and how that lined up with the kinds of creatures they ended up playing on Housebroken.

“I saw myself as a stallion,” joked Forte, “and sadly, it really is kind of true that I am more of a tortoise/turtle.”

“I thought [dog therapist] Honey represents me personally very well: elegant, really smart, caring, great advice,” said Kudrow. “Actually, [she is] overanalytical, controlling and trying to be fun when shes really not.”

Finally, the creators and stars of Housebroken weighed the pros and cons of working in voiceover.

“Being able to record in your pajamas, or in Jason’s case, without any clothes on, I think there’s a lot of positives,” said Faxon.

“Nat, I was in the studio with you,” said Kudrow, “so I saw what you weren’t wearing.”

“I can just be in my closet naked, recording, but the reality is, I was doing that even before Covid. You want to get the voice in its true, unadultered form,” added Mantzoukas. “I asked if I could do the panel naked. They unequivocally said no.”

Also starring Tony Hale, Housebroken centers on Honey (Lisa Kudrow), a therapy dog who runs group therapy sessions to help animals from her neighborhood manage neuroses brought on by their owners and each other. The comedy premieres on Fox on May 31.

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