April 25, 2023
John Owen Lowe, the star and co-creator of the Netflix comedy series Unstable, joins Ashley to talk all things TV. John discusses Fred Armisen playfully torturing him to laugh during scenes, lessons he learned from Ryan Murphy, and even reveals he almost told his father Rob not to do Parks & Recreation just so he could continue enjoying the show. Plus, Ashley discovers John is a “learned Vanderpump Rules scholar” and reality TV junkie who’s fired up to talk about MILF Island, Too Hot to Handle, and much more.
What We Watched:
Parks & Recreation
Love Is Blind
Too Hot to Handle
Seeking Brother Husband
90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way
American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing
If you have 2 minutes, please help TV I Say grow by filling out this survey: podsurvey.com/tvisay
S2E40 — Fathers, Sons, & MILFs w/ John Owen Lowe
[00:01:03] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Thank you so much. I love that introduction. I like being told that I’m very good at TV. I like that.
[00:01:09] ASHLEY RAY: I mean, we’re going to get into all the credentials. Right now, Unstable. You worked on The Grinder, which, as you saw, probably, I was tweeting today, listeners, about how I missed that era of network TV–from the 30 Rock era to Brooklyn Nine-Nine. And Unstable–as soon as I got into it, I was like, “Ooh, we’re back. I’m feeling it.”
[00:01:32] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I love that you say that. That was the hope, genuinely. I miss specifically my sort of, you know, foundation of what was comedy I grew up on, especially, you know, when network comedies were really strong–that Thursday night lineup of Parks, The Office, 30 Rock was a crazy run.
[00:01:58] ASHLEY RAY: A golden era of comedy TV on network. And now you see people saying, like, “Oh, finally, network TV is back with Abbott.” And I’m like, “I mean, it didn’t really go anywhere.”
[00:02:08] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I know. It’s funny.
[00:02:09] ASHLEY RAY: These incredible shows have been hiding on streaming platforms.
[00:02:12] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Well, look, I mean, Abbott is incredible. And I think, you know, hats off to them for doing it on network. But it’s not easy to do it on network anymore because the sort of culture has shifted, I guess. And so, you don’t see it that much. When you compare, you know, content-wise what they were doing even not so long ago– Look at The Good Place. You know, like you were saying, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I would say New Girl was kind of like that.
[00:02:43] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, the last kind of big hurrah and a show we will talk about later–The Mick, which you got to work on. You were in the writers’ room, or you were a writer’s assistant.
[00:02:52] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I was a writer’s assistant. I wish I could claim that I contributed any content to that show, but I did learn quite a bit from that.
[00:03:00] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, it was one of the first shows I reviewed for The A.V. Club, and it was just excellent sitcom TV. It just had perfect setup, rhythm, just an amazing cast. And when it came out, I was like, “This show is going to air for, like, six, seven seasons. It’s so good. Oh my gosh.” And then it just came out right at that shift of the culture being like, “Oh, what? What is cable?”
[00:03:23] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I know. I feel the same way about that show as I do about The Grinder, where if those shows were on Netflix, they’d go for five or six seasons maybe. But they couldn’t find their space to exist on network TV. But The Mick was a great show. Really strong writers’ room. Just funny hitters in that room. And then The Chernins, who created it, are, like… You know, they came from Sunny; they’re vetted in that sense and very, very kind, smart people. They in some ways mentored me for a little bit after that. And I sent them Unstable actually, when it was very, very early in its development, and they helped me sort of think about some things.
[00:04:09] ASHLEY RAY: That’s amazing because watching the show–that was immediately the vibe I picked up. I think my first tweet about it was, like, “I am tee-heeing and hee-hawing. This is so, so funny.” Also, your dad–he knows how to be in a sitcom. He is such a strong sitcom actor that from the moment you see him in that first shot, like, crying over the dog video, you’re just like, “I’m in. Like, where is this show going to take me?” So, we’re going to dive into our watchlist. This is where we talk about what we’re watching recently. It can be old stuff, new stuff, or whatever you like to binge. First on my list was Unstable. We’re going to get into the details. But it felt like a lovely lead into my other shows on the watchlist this week, American Auto and Grand Crew, two other really strong sitcoms that I think are right there bringing back network TV–that are just so funny and sharp. I think there is something to be said about people who, like you said, grew up on TV–who have really been trained by people who understand that sense of comedy. And we’re kind of, I think, coming back to a golden era of it. Have you been watching any of those sitcoms?
[00:05:14] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I haven’t had a chance to check them out yet. I think I’ve read some material, though, from them. I know that they’re funny. I just know they exist in that space in my head where I’m like, “Yeah, I remember seeing something where that’s a well-executed comedy.” And again, like, not easy to do right now. If you’re on network TV and you’re pulling off being a funny sitcom and people are watching, my hat is off to you.
[00:05:39] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, they’re doing incredible work with Ana Gasteyer on American Auto. It’s the show that was made for her–that we’ve been waiting for her to have. She is just having the most fun every week, I think.
[00:05:51] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I love that. I’m also just a cheerleader for anyone. I’m like, “Go off. Do your thing.”
[00:05:56] ASHLEY RAY: Like, “Yes, you’re killing it.” What’s on your watchlist? What have you been doing this week?
[00:06:00] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Oh my gosh. Okay. Well, I’m insecure because I feel like my answers are boring.
[00:06:07] ASHLEY RAY: It’s funny because I thought you were saying the show Insecure, and I was like, “Okay!”
[00:06:11] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Insecure is fantastic. No, I love Insecure.
[00:06:13] ASHLEY RAY: “It’s, like, a little throwback. Nice!”
[00:06:16] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Succession. Is that so lame?
[00:06:18] ASHLEY RAY: No, no, no, no. Come on. I mean…
[00:06:22] JOHN OWEN LOWE: That most recent episode was… I don’t want to, you know, sound cliche or overly dramatic. But that’s probably the best episode of television I’ve seen in years. Incredible. It’s like watching a play.
[00:06:38] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, it was incredible. I felt bad for anyone else who thought they were going to get an Emmy this year–
[00:06:43] JOHN OWEN LOWE: That’s exactly my takeaway. I was like, “Better Call Saul, I’m sorry for you guys.”
[00:06:47] ASHLEY RAY: I’m so, so sorry.
[00:06:49] JOHN OWEN LOWE: That locked it up.
[00:06:50] ASHLEY RAY: I am curious. You know, Succession–obviously a story about father-son. Unstable also in a different way. We did want to ask you about, like, your favorite portrayals of, like, the parent-son/father-son relationship. Does that pull you in with Succession?
[00:07:07] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Yeah. Logan Roy-Kendall Roy’s father-son dynamic is riveting to me. And look, I will say I see some similarities between that and Ellis Dragon and Jackson Dragon and Rob Lowe and John Owen Lowe, but not nearly to the extent of, you know, Machiavellian, you know, evil, you know, convoluted schemes against each other.
[00:07:30] ASHLEY RAY: Would your dad write you out of a helicopter contract?
[00:07:34] JOHN OWEN LOWE: He might. If I made him angry enough. First of all, that man doesn’t have helicopter contracts. But if he did, that would be a fun game for me to play. Can I piss him off enough to get written out of the helicopter contract?
[00:07:48] ASHLEY RAY: Out of the helicopter contract. Yeah. Those are the questions Succession makes you ask. And that’s why it’s important to me.
[00:07:52] JOHN OWEN LOWE: That’s exactly right. I will say that I am a learned scholar when it comes to Vanderpump Rules. I am all in Oakland–all in on Scandoval. I actually went on Watch What Happens Live.
[00:08:07] ASHLEY RAY: I wanted to ask you about this because I will admit I am new to Vanderpump Rules. I didn’t really understand what it was about. And a friend of mine was like, “If you like Below Deck, you’re going to love Vanderpump Rules. It’s basically people who work in a restaurant. And stuff happens.” And I think I’m on Season Four now. I have lost days.
[00:08:29] JOHN OWEN LOWE: It’s crazy. It’s the craziest thing ever. I don’t understand how those people keep doing it. You know the meme where it’s like “They don’t miss.” Like, they just don’t. Every season there’s something that I’m like, “No way human beings act like this.” And it’s riveting. It’s riveting. And it’s funny. When I did Watch What Happens Live… One of my friends who’s an actress and she’s very successful–won Emmys–and her and I watch Vanderpump every week together and, you know, ooh and aww over it like schoolgirls. And Tom Schwartz, who’s a classmate, was there. And I was like, “I gotta FaceTime my friend.” And we FaceTime, and she got all shy when he got on the FaceTime. Oh, and then when we hung up, he goes, “Oh my God, she’s a fan of mine? I love her.” And I was thinking, “These people are the celebrity’s celebrity.” And this is not me calling myself a celebrity. I’m not. But people who work in entertainment oftentimes, I find, want to get some version of an escape from, you know, scripted or intense projects.
[00:09:37] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. This is a question I like to ask writers and, you know, creators. Do you like to watch a lot of TV when you’re creating? Personally, I have to separate when I’m working on a script, if I was watching something like Succession while I was trying to write, I would just want to hurt myself, probably.
[00:09:53] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Dude. I feel that. That’s why I do it! The thing is we work in an industry that’s all, you know, about comparisons and, you know, holding my thing against this thing. It’s not healthy for me to watch Succession–even though I’m going to do it–and go like, “I couldn’t think of this.” And that’s true. I couldn’t. I would have to tell myself, like, “I could think of something else. Maybe people might like that other thing. But I can’t think of this.” And it just makes you feel less than. The other thing that’s very true is even Jesse Armstrong–I think that’s the creator of Succession–and that writer’s room could not write what happens on Vanderpump. No one can write that. Nothing is crazier than what these people are doing.
[00:10:39] ASHLEY RAY: No. Yeah. That and Below Deck.
[00:10:42] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Below Deck is great.
[00:10:43] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, that’s what I really watch. Like, Kate Chastain is my celebrity. She is the person that I’m just, like…
[00:10:51] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I think she reached out to me after the Watch What Happens Live. Maybe not. I was living in it.
[00:10:58] ASHLEY RAY: When she was on The Traitors, I was just like, “Now the whole world can understand how amazing Kate is because she doesn’t play.”
[00:11:05] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Incredible. But yeah, I had a friend that got offered to go on a Below Deck, and it was like, “Bring your friends!” And then he saw that there was also a bill to do it. And he was like, “I’m not doing that.”
[00:11:17] ASHLEY RAY: Yes. I’ve had a few friends who are like, “They hit me up.” Seth Rogen did the show and talked about how there was an extensive process. He was going to do Below Deck, and then they were going to try to make him pay, like, six figures.
[00:11:26] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Yeah, it’s an exorbitant amount of money.
[00:11:27] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. And it’s like, “Oh, you want me to pay to be on your TV show?”
[00:11:31] JOHN OWEN LOWE: No, no, that’s not…
[00:11:33] ASHLEY RAY: I would do it though. I would.
[00:11:35] JOHN OWEN LOWE: If it was like, you know, pay for your flight, I’m doing it.
[00:11:40] ASHLEY RAY: But truly my goal in life is I’m just saving up not for retirement but for a Below Deck trip.
[00:11:46] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I love that for you.
[00:11:47] ASHLEY RAY: Thank you.
[00:11:48] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I really love that for you.
[00:11:50] ASHLEY RAY: Thank you.
[00:11:51] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I’m trying to think of what else I watched. I’m rewatching… I always like soul food TV. I always go back to–like I said–New Girl…
[00:11:59] ASHLEY RAY: Ah yeah.
[00:12:00] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Parks, Arrested Development, Curb, Always Sunny–those are, like, on a constant, you know, cycle in my house.
[00:12:07] ASHLEY RAY: With, like, a show like parks, is it weird with seeing your dad?
[00:12:10] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Yeah, it is. I don’t watch a lot of stuff with my dad in it just because it takes you out of the reality of it. I liked Parks before he went on it funnily enough.
[00:12:20] ASHLEY RAY: And then you’re like, “God, you ruined the show.”
[00:12:22] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I know. Screw that guy. I can remember being however old I was, like, 12 or 13–I don’t know how old I was–and he came to me, and he was like, “Have you heard of this–?” Because he thought I was like a spokesman for young people. “You heard of this show called Parks and Rec? I might do it.” And I remember thinking to myself, like, “Should I tell him not to so I can keep watching the show.” As If he would listen to me. But I was honest. I said, “Yeah, I love that show.”
[00:12:47] ASHLEY RAY: You would have–honestly, with that choice–hurt the world. I hate to say it, but it is one of the best characters in TV history. Like, “Ah, that would have been tough.”
[00:12:57] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I am fond of Chris Traeger. I think that’s a good character.
[00:13:00] ASHLEY RAY: I think that would have altered the outcome of history if Rob Lowe didn’t play that–
[00:13:04] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I wouldn’t go that far.
[00:13:05] ASHLEY RAY: I am willing to stake that claim right now here on TV, I Say.
[00:13:09] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Okay. Fair. I like that you believe in him.
[00:13:14] ASHLEY RAY: One more show on my watchlist that I have to call out because on Twitter people were saying no one’s talking about it–it is on Apple TV–Extrapolations. It is a show that stars Meryl Streep, Marion Cotillard–I’m not saying her name right–Forest Whitaker, Tobey Maguire. It has every star you can imagine. It is about the climate crisis. And it looks at America in the year, like, 2040 and then 2060 and 2070. And eventually it’s at a point where animals are all extinct and people have to eat fake food. And the first three episodes are incredibly moving and make you wonder, “Wow, what is going to happen to the world?” And by Episode Four, they have Meryl Streep voicing the last whale on Earth.
[00:13:58] JOHN OWEN LOWE: What?
[00:13:59] ASHLEY RAY: Exactly.
[00:14:01] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I might need to watch that.
[00:14:03] ASHLEY RAY: I think everyone should. I keep making fun of it in a way where people think I’m saying, “Don’t watch it.” But what I’m saying is watch it because I need other people to be like, “Yeah, that happened.”
[00:14:13] JOHN OWEN LOWE: So, it’s as insane as it sounds.
[00:14:14] ASHLEY RAY: Yes, it truly is. In this future, we have the technology to communicate with animals. And so, they send this woman to talk to, like, the last whale on earth, who is voiced by Meryl Streep. And Meryl the Whale is just kind of like, “Oh, I’m so lonely. What’s even going to happen? I think I heard a guy wail.” And then she finds out that it was a fake recording. So that makes her very upset with humans, and it’s, like, a whole thing. And by this latest episode–the finale will be airing this week–it’s Marion Cotillard doing this weird… So, in the future, we can’t touch each other because of viruses. So, she does this weird seduction of Tobey Maguire by touching herself. And it is one of those things where I’m like, “How is no one talking about this?”
[00:15:02] JOHN OWEN LOWE: So… What?
[00:15:06] ASHLEY RAY: Exactly.
[00:15:07] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I don’t know what to make of that.
[00:15:10] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, it’s kind of a mix of Black Mirror and Years and Years, this HBO show that also looked at the climate crisis.
[00:15:18] JOHN OWEN LOWE: With a talking whale.
[00:15:19] ASHLEY RAY: With a talking whale. And then it’s kind of like someone was like, “What are the most famous celebrities we can get to do the most ridiculous things that we can think of?”
[00:15:27] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I think I have a friend on that show. But that sounds insane.
[00:15:33] ASHLEY RAY: Amazing performances. Such a moving story. And then you’re like, “Oh, wait, these are people arguing about, like, whether they should upload their brains to the cloud so they can come back as, like, monkeys?”
[00:15:45] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I like how you’ve described this show because you’ve done a wonderful job of not really selling… I don’t know if you hate it or love it.
[00:15:56] ASHLEY RAY: I don’t know if I hate it or love it. Truly, as soon as I get the notification that’s like, “New episode of Extrapolations,” I sit down immediately to watch. It’s the show I look forward to most. And then I sit there going, “What is happening?” So, if you’re listening, go watch it, check it out, tell me if you know it’s happening.
[00:16:14] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Sounds insane to me.
[00:16:16] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. So, I had to give it a shout out on the watchlist. We’re going to take a quick break. And when we come back, we’re going to dive into all things Unstable, my new favorite show on Netflix. And we are back. I’m loving this conversation. I feel like you get TV the way that I do. That’s how I felt watching Unstable. I’m going to say, I didn’t even know this was coming out before the day Netflix was like, “Hey, there’s a new thing. You should watch this. You like Rob Lowe. You watch Parks and Rec.” And I was like, “Okay, yes!” And then I noticed a friend of mine is in it, Aaron Branch.
[00:16:57] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I love Aaron!
[00:16:57] ASHLEY RAY: I love Aaron. Absolutely amazing stand-up comic. Just hilarious. And so as soon as I saw him being absolutely wacky, I was like, “Okay. I’m in. Let’s go.” And I had to, like, pull myself away from this show. I just wanted to keep binging it. I was just like, “What do you mean ‘I have to go, like, do my job?’” This is so funny. It’s just what I miss about… I think we’ve already kind of talked about that classic era of comedy TV. You hit that tone perfectly. And it feels like it’s just created by this stellar group of veterans who all respect television and the sitcom.
[00:17:37] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Well, in fairness, we did have a stellar veteran. We had Victor Fresco, who is wonderful. Shout out to Victor. You know, Santa Clarita Diet, Better Off Ted, yadda, yadda.
[00:17:48] ASHLEY RAY: Just, as listeners know, those are two shows high on my Justice List. Justice for Better Off Ted. Yeah.
[00:17:54] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Oh, they just, like, deserved better?
[00:17:56] ASHLEY RAY: They deserve better. They deserve multiple seasons. They were incredible shows. And Santa Clarita Diet? We forgive Netflix because they’ve made Unstable, but we don’t forgive Netflix for canceling that show.
[00:18:04] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Got it.
[00:18:06] ASHLEY RAY: Before it got a justified ending.
[00:18:07] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Got it. Yeah.
[00:18:08] ASHLEY RAY: Love Santa Clarita Diet.
[00:18:10] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Great show. Victor’s a great writer. He’s really talented. I think he was crucial in, you know, helping us find the tone that you’re talking about of, like, you know, sort of lighthearted but with grounded and real stakes comedy. You know, that’s not super easy to pull off these days. And I would say–just to cover what you were saying, too–when I talk about the show, the way I really like to describe it is there’s this void in television right now. So, when you hear the word “comedy” on TV, or when they blast it out there, it’s, like, Barry and Succession. Those are fantastic shows.
[00:18:56] ASHLEY RAY: Wonderful.
[00:18:57] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Wonderful shows. Great shows. They are not comedies.
[00:19:01] ASHLEY RAY: They’re not comedies. Along with The Bear.
[00:19:03] JOHN OWEN LOWE: The Bear. Exactly.
[00:19:04] ASHLEY RAY: I had to scratch my head when it was in the comedy category. Amazing show. Did I laugh when he was doing a monologue about his dead brother? No, I wasn’t laughing.
[00:19:13] JOHN OWEN LOWE: No. And then there’s still, you know, sitcoms, but they’re heavy-handed sitcoms. They’ve leaned even more into the tropes. And by the way, my hat’s off to them. It’s hard to do, and a lot of people pull it off well. But we wanted to kind of, you know, re-occupy that space somewhere in the middle of those two, like we were talking about with these shows that can keep you enthralled in the actual story but are really, like, lighthearted, fast, and just, at the heart of it, funny. We’re just trying to make people laugh.
[00:19:46] ASHLEY RAY: And I think, importantly, with Unstable, it’s such a good ensemble. Like, how did you find that chemistry with each other?
[00:19:52] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Well, you know, fortunately, I’ve known my co-star my entire life, so I have some chemistry.
[00:19:58] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, yeah. The energy between you and your dad–that one made some sense.
[00:20:02] JOHN OWEN LOWE: You know, I say this, and it sounds kind of like a prepared thing to say, but it’s the genuine truth. Everyone we hired or casted was our top choice. You know, we read quite a few people and, you know, whether it was Rachel Marsh, who plays Luna, I remember her audition and chemistry read and going like, “Please let us get her.” And then, you know, Emma, who plays Ruby–as soon as we casted her, Netflix was like, “We love her so much, she’s doing another show for us.” You know, she’s a star in the making for sure. So is Rachel. And you know, Aaron is objectively so funny. When we first read for Malcolm, we didn’t really know the character super well yet. So, we were basically trying to find a way to just make it more Aaron. And I think we found it. And I think he’s so, so good on the show.
[00:21:02] ASHLEY RAY: And I’m curious, watching him in that first episode with the karaoke scene where he, like, just hops right on stage and starts singing with your dad’s character… I was watching that, and I was just like, “I would have been so intimidated. This is Aaron who I’ve done, like, open mics and bar shows with. And he’s just, like, getting right in Rob Lowe’s face and doing this and throwing himself into the character.” You know, I was so curious how you have this range of people with experience and how you kind of bridge that gap. I mean, for you, you’re like, “He’s just a guy.”
[00:21:53] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Yeah, no. I mean, I think I sided more with the, you know, younger sort of core four of us in that I’ve never carried, you know, a show as a lead. And so, this was a new experience for me. And I tried not to have any form of like a chip on my shoulder, even, you know, having been involved in this show at a kernel of an idea. And so, you know, I related to them in that we were all kind of like, “This is our first time carrying something big.” And Rob is easy to work with for the most part. And so, he made that, you know, transition for them, I think, very easy. And for us, we always knew what it was going to be. It’s honestly very little acting for he and I. And then for me, I would say the most difficult thing I had to do on this entire show is act across from Fred Armisen. First of all, we wrote the role in his voice. We were like, “This is just Fred Armisen.” And I thought, “We’ll never get him.”
[00:22:53] ASHLEY RAY: I just need you to know one of the notes I wrote down was: “Need to talk about the kidnapping Fred Armisen scene” because that is when I was completely sold.
[00:23:00] ELLIS DRAGON I thought he was leaving, so I go back into the bar. Guess who’s on stage right behind me?
[00:23:05] LESLIE No.
[00:23:06] ELLIS DRAGON Holding his flute?
[00:23:07] LESLIE Oh my God. Your son. Goosebumps.
[00:23:10] ELLIS DRAGON Right? And then the karaoke kicks in.
[00:23:13] JACKSON DRAGON What’s going on?
[00:23:15] ELLIS DRAGON Well, nothing now. I was building to a dramatic finish on an awesome story.
[00:23:18] LESLIE You should keep that door locked.
[00:23:20] ANNA BENNET Look at that. Everything’s fine. And he was so quick to be negative.
[00:23:24] ELLIS DRAGON No, no, no, no. I’m sorry. Didn’t my dad kidnap you?
[00:23:27] LESLIE Oh, you’re Jackson. Welcome. Well, yes, the relationship started off as a challenge, but I’ve actually been enjoying my time here. We have dinner together. We play pool. Tomorrow’s movie night.
[00:23:38] ELLIS DRAGON This guy’s never seen Fargo. Don’t tell him anything.
[00:23:40] ANNA BENNET Which is a good rule of thumb for all of us. Never tell anyone. Anything.
[00:23:44] LESLIE You know, before I met your dad, I was going down an unhealthy path. I threatened this man–blackmailed him–but he got me back on track. He made me realize that that’s not how I wanted to be.
[00:23:55] ELLIS DRAGON I think I just gave you time so you could reflect.
[00:23:58] LESLIE No! You saved me.
[00:24:01] ASHLEY RAY: That was the moment when I was just like, “What this show is doing is so, so funny and refreshing.” And just also being able to buy into the fact that, yes, I do think Rob Lowe could kidnap me and I would be into it. My soul would open up. I learned so much.
[00:24:17] JOHN OWEN LOWE: He would change you.
[00:24:18] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. And to just see the frustration of your character and everything that scene represented, I felt like, is so the show. My friends were like, “Oh, how many episodes should I get?” I think that’s what people do these days–with the fact that everything comes out at once and people want to be grabbed right away. And I was just like, “In the first very…” Or is that the second episode?
[00:24:43] JOHN OWEN LOWE: It’s right at the end of the first into the second. So, the show just kicks into another gear.
[00:24:47] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. And I was like, “As soon as you get there, you’re in.”
[00:24:49] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Yeah. That was honestly the hope because, look, pilots are hard, too. You have a lot of foundation to build and characters to establish and even, like, you know, plot to drive. And I’m actually super proud of our pilot because there’s a lot of funny in it, and it’s not just, like, pipy exposition. But I do think that the show kicks into another gear right at that transition from Episode One to Episode Two.
[00:25:15] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, back to Fred Armisen. So, you wrote this character around him. Was this one of those, you know, like, just big comedy guys you wanted in the show? How did that come about?
[00:25:24] JOHN OWEN LOWE: He’s on my Mount Rushmore of actors to work with. I’m obsessed with him. I’ve seen, like, almost everything he’s done. You know, like, I think, you know, Documentary Now! and… What would be, like, my other, like, top Fred stuff? It’s hard to pick. I mean, him on SNL, Portlandia– Truly, like, everything. And I just never thought we’d get him. And then he wanted to do it, and we were thrilled. Then he read the script, and he really wanted to do it. He really liked the part. And he has this thing he does that I suspect is from his days on Saturday Night Live, where he kind of hones in on who’s, like, the one person on the cast who’s going to, like, break for him–who’s going to laugh at his stuff–and then he kind of just playfully tortures them. And that was definitely me. And so, you know, there’s all these moments that I can pinpoint that seem small, like, even, you know, in that first scene where we meet in the basement, and he gets up from the couch. I don’t know if people hearing this can see me, but he kind of walks up to me, waves his finger in a circle, and points at my chest. He goes, “Let’s talk about what’s going on… here.” And he just milks these things so hard whenever it’s, like, right in my face. And that scene in particular, and then there’s a scene in seven where he comes down after his party and we have a conversation–we’re attempting to kick him out. It’s not scripted, but I’m eating a morning bagel and he just takes the plate out from underneath me and walks away with it. And he would shake the plate under my nose as he was pulling it away. And I was giggling, and we were all having such a good time. And finally, our director came in and was like, “Ha ha ha. This is all so funny. Johnny, we don’t have a single usable take on your coverage. So, you gotta please keep it together.” Perhaps some people felt that acting alongside Rob. That’s crazy for me.
[00:27:16] ASHLEY RAY: You’re like, “He can’t make me laugh anymore.”
[00:27:16] JOHN OWEN LOWE: But Fred, for me, I was like, “Oh my God…” And then I’ve talked about most of the cast. I have to shout out an absolute legend. Sian Clifford, who plays Anna, is so good.
[00:27:30] ASHLEY RAY: Yes.
[00:27:30] JOHN OWEN LOWE: She is so, so, so good and such a wonderful person. But she really, really, really, like, took that role and elevated it and made it a whole thing.
[00:27:42] ASHLEY RAY: I want to get into the writing process of this first season and what you kind of want to do with Season Two. You know, what did you hope to accomplish with this first season and what do you want audiences to walk away feeling?
[00:27:53] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I love that question. I would say, you know, we were trying to accomplish with Season One, which was difficult with eight episodes because it is, you know, kind of like a 22-episode vibe… But I think what we got to do actually was something cool in that it’s, you know, serialized and there’s an arc. But that felt like the sort of launching board where it’s like, “Okay, by Episode Eight, you 100% know every character’s deal.” Our goal–our sort of, like, mission statement–was always, you know, to make people laugh, we want the show to move fast, which it does, and it was very important to us to, like, always have a little heart in there and make, you know, people feel. And I’ve had people who reach out to me be like, “I watched it with my dad,” or “I watched it with my parent,” or “It made me reach out to my parent.” And that’s very special to me. So that was kind of the goal. And so, in looking forward to Season Two, we’ve been exploring the idea of that nexus between, you know, “What are the highest emotional stakes we can play with and ramp up while also ramping up the absurdity in the comedy? And then does that create a new, you know, form of a relationship with his son who feels bad for him? Is there sympathy? I don’t know. There’s a lot to explore. But we can also, you know, ramp the stakes up in Season Two with, like, set pieces.
[00:29:23] ASHLEY RAY: That was another thing I wanted to highlight is that visually and the set pieces on this show–that’s the part that made me go, “Okay, this is why this had to be on Netflix.” When there’s the invisible blanket.
[00:29:33] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Yes. The invisibility cloak. Cars on fire.
[00:29:36] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. You know, that’s the part where I was like, “Okay, this is…
[00:29:40] JOHN OWEN LOWE: “This is not necessarily network TV.”
[00:29:43] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. Like, “That’s that Netflix money. There’s that budget.”
[00:29:46] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I love that. Netflix money!
[00:29:49] ASHLEY RAY: Also, I wanted to ask was that Anna really singing, and do you know how to play the flute?
[00:29:53] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Great questions. That was actually Sian Clifford singing as Anna. She has a very good voice. And I took lessons to not look like an idiot as I was faking the flute. So, I can, like, play Hot Cross Buns. But I cannot shred like that.
[00:30:29] ELLIS DRAGON My son. The flutist. The flautist. I really have to lock that down.
[00:30:31] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I’m a musician. I play piano, and I have my whole life. And so I was, like, familiar with music and music theory, which I thought would translate. Turns out it does not. Wind instruments are very different.
[00:30:43] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. I did love the joke of just, like, the flute being absolutely pointless and a useless skill. So, I didn’t want to insult you if you’re like, “Actually, I am a true flautist.”
[00:30:52] JOHN OWEN LOWE: The only person who makes it look cool is Lizzo.
[00:30:54] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. She’s the only one I’ve ever seen.
[00:30:57] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Maybe, like, Jethro Tull.
[00:30:59] ASHLEY RAY: And now your character, Jackson. Right up there.
[00:31:02] JOHN OWEN LOWE: That’s very generous.
[00:31:04] ASHLEY RAY: But like I said, Unstable–an amazing, amazing show. If you haven’t gone to watch it yet, which you should have because it was on the homework list, I believe, last episode, so…
[00:31:12] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I love you.
[00:31:13] ASHLEY RAY: Like I said, I’m out here trying to get the people to watch these funny shows that are hidden deep in their apps.
[00:31:19] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Watch Unstable. And if you like it, message me. I read way too many messages about it. And I need to stop. And if you don’t like it, message me. I read too many messages about it. I need to stop.
[00:31:30] ASHLEY RAY: I mean, just across the board, every friend who I got to start it loved it. I did recommend it to my mom because I feel like we have a similar dynamic, where I’m like, “Everyone loves you and thinks you’re so amazing. She’s just my mom. Shut up.” And of course, she just is like, “Well, I love Rob Lowe. That’s my boy.”
[00:31:48] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Oh boy.
[00:31:49] ASHLEY RAY: She’s older, so…
[00:31:51] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Well, now she’s got a new boy.
[00:31:53] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. “Okay, Mom. Get with the new generation, please.”
[00:31:56] JOHN OWEN LOWE: No, it’s okay. Rob can have his people.
[00:32:00] ASHLEY RAY: Okay. You know, she was alive in the ’80s, so I’ll give it to her. But please go watch Unstable. It is all on Netflix. Incredible cast. So funny. We’re going to take another quick break, and we will be back to talk about your TV career and just some other shows you like. And we are back. I want to talk some more about, you know, Unstable, your TV writing journey, just some of the experiences you’ve had. We talked a little bit about, you know, Succession and that father son relationship. But what are some other TV shows that you think do a great job portraying that?
[00:32:48] JOHN OWEN LOWE: You know, I can tell you one show–it’s not fathers and sons, but it’s parents and children–that is probably the worst depiction. It’s a reality show. And it is called MILF Manor.
[00:33:01] ASHLEY RAY: Oh, yes.
[00:33:03] JOHN OWEN LOWE: And I am speechless. That show broke my brain.
[00:33:10] ASHLEY RAY: M mom–I don’t know what kind of pull she thinks I have in Hollywood. I don’t have any. But she texts me, like, her desires. Like, she’ll be like, “You tell them this is just not even moral.” She was so appalled. It was the first time I think she wanted to, like, write a letter to the president, being like, “How is this allowed?”
[00:33:34] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I recommend that show; it’s very similar to how you feel probably about Extrapolations, where I’m like, “I need people to talk to about it.” And I also need to know, like, how am I supposed to feel about this?
[00:33:46] ASHLEY RAY: How am I supposed to feel? I got very deep in one of the conspiracies about one of the sons having, like, a foot fetish.
[00:33:52] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Oh, yes.
[00:33:54] ASHLEY RAY: And like, I’m trying to explain to friends how I’m, like, deep in this conspiracy of, like, a twentysomething boy and his foot fetish and how he’s, like, rubbing it in the faces of these other boys but, like, clearly doesn’t want the moms to know that he’s, like, looking at their feet.
[00:34:11] JOHN OWEN LOWE: The show is so demented. So demented. But riveting.
[00:34:15] ASHLEY RAY: It’s riveting.
[00:34:16] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Riveting.
[00:34:17] ASHLEY RAY: It’s up there with Adults Adopting Adults in terms of reality shows that should have never been made.
[00:34:25] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Yeah, it somehow feels illegal.
[00:34:26] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. And that one was–it turned out–illegal. And another bad presentation of parents and children, where they only were able to run three episodes and then it came out that one of the adults who wanted to adopt an adult was actually human trafficking.
[00:34:40] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Oh, lovely.
[00:34:41] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. Yeah. You know, your standard human trafficking. Had, like, brought a 19-year-old girl that he was going to adopt and, like, locked her in a basement. And in the middle of filming, A&E was like, “We need to stop this.”
[00:34:54] JOHN OWEN LOWE: “We should probably bail on this.”
[00:34:55] ASHLEY RAY: “We need to just erase every memory of this show and act like it didn’t happen.”
[00:34:58] JOHN OWEN LOWE: What’s funny about MILF Manor is it was pitched on 30 Rock. There’s a great joke on 30 Rock where Alec Baldwin’s like–
[00:35:04] ASHLEY RAY: It’s like MILF Island.
[00:35:05] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Yeah. And he’s like, “30 schoolteachers. 30 eighth grade boys. What could go wrong?” That’s MILF Manor.
[00:35:15] ASHLEY RAY: Truly. That is how they are making reality TV shows these days. There’s a new one coming out where they just pick people to fly to random countries to marry people they’ve never met.
[00:35:25] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Oh my God. You know what I don’t like? I just wanted to, you know, quickly do one qualm about some reality TV shows. Love is Blind is entertaining, but I have a beef with it. And my beef is that it lacks a certain sense of self-awareness. I like shows when they’re stupid, at least they’re self-aware. Even MILF Manor… I’m not gonna use that as an example, actually.
[00:35:49] ASHLEY RAY: I feel like if you’re on MILF Manor, you are not a self-aware person.
[00:35:51] JOHN OWEN LOWE: No, you’re not. But, like, you know, Below Deck, Vanderpump–they’re self-important, but in a way where it’s like… I get why they’re doing what they’re doing. They have to. Even when I spoke to them. When I talked to, like, Schwartz, it’s like he gets it. He’s like, “I just live a normal life with reality TV cameras around me, so my life’s not normal, and this stuff’s crazy.” My problem with Love is Blind is–and to be clear, I watch it–that they’re like, “Modern dating doesn’t work for me. The truth is, I just need to meet someone who has the same morals and values as me. Talking to someone for five days without seeing them in a room with cameras around me is, like, naturally, how I can fall in love.” Someone needs to go in and be like, “This is insane. I’ve run out of options. And maybe. this works.”
[00:36:39] ASHLEY RAY: And like, let’s be honest about the fact that they are drinking alcohol from, like, 6:00 a.m.–
[00:36:44] JOHN OWEN LOWE: They’re hammered!
[00:36:44] ASHLEY RAY: All day. Like, when Tiffany–my girl this season–fell asleep in the pod on her date.
[00:36:50] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Iconic.
[00:36:51] ASHLEY RAY: Oh, I was like, “She’s a queen. She’s me.” There’s a handle of tequila in front of her.
[00:36:56] JOHN OWEN LOWE: She’s just facing it.
[00:36:58] ASHLEY RAY: And people are like, “How could she do that?” And I’m like, “They are drunk all day.”
[00:37:02] JOHN OWEN LOWE: By the way, imagine how boring.
[00:37:06] ASHLEY RAY: Oh, yeah.
[00:37:07] JOHN OWEN LOWE: The amount of, like, “What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been to? What’s your favorite color?”
[00:37:11] ASHLEY RAY: “What’s your sign? So, family?”
[00:37:14] JOHN OWEN LOWE: And by the way, I need to really know someone to care about their answers to those questions. It’s like these cuts to people being like, “You know, the thing about my mom is that she’s just really…” And I’m like, “You’ve never seen this person before! Don’t tell them that!”
[00:37:30] ASHLEY RAY: But then they also will be like, “Wow. So, like, his mom grew up poor, and my mom grew up poor. And that’s the deepest thing anyone’s ever said to me.” And I feel like I am an insane person because I’m like, “What? Am I on dates, like, telling people too much about myself?”
[00:37:45] JOHN OWEN LOWE: No. There was one person who comes off as a douche at first. And then he’s like, “The truth is this is all just a facade. I’m hiding because, like, I’m scared people are going to judge me for, like, my mom.” And I’m like, “Who is judging you for your mom? I don’t want to, like, be mean, but most people are very sympathetic to stuff like that.”
[00:38:06] ASHLEY RAY: And it’s 2023, and he keeps bringing up the fact that he’s like, “I didn’t want a Romeo and Juliet situation.” And I’m like, “That wasn’t how that–”
[00:38:15] JOHN OWEN LOWE: “That’s not it at all, man.”
[00:38:16] ASHLEY RAY: “That’s not the same thing.”
[00:38:17] JOHN OWEN LOWE: It’s crazy. And then my favorite part in those shows is always that one moment–I know you know–where it’s like, “I think I’m falling for you.” And I’m like, “Oh, on day four?”
[00:38:27] ASHLEY RAY: “I think they’re the one.”
[00:38:29] JOHN OWEN LOWE: And the music swells.
[00:38:31] ASHLEY RAY: It’s, like, the second day of their honeymoon.
[00:38:34] JOHN OWEN LOWE: “Should we just do this? Should we just fricking do it right now? Oh my God!”
[00:38:37] ASHLEY RAY: “I’m in love with you. We’ve had breakfast in bed every day, and they’ve been force feeding us mimosas.”
[00:38:42] JOHN OWEN LOWE: And the other thing of where it’s in the one-on-one interview and they’re like, “This is so crazy that this is happening right now. I never thought this would happen.” Why did you go on the show? Why are you on the show?”
[00:38:51] ASHLEY RAY: So, then why’d you do that?
[00:38:52] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Why are you on reality TV? This is exactly what you thought was going to happen.
[00:38:54] ASHLEY RAY: This is what you wanted to happen. Do you do 90 Day Fiancé?
[00:38:59] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Of course, I do 90 Day Fiancé
[00:39:00] ASHLEY RAY: Are you watching 90 Day: The Other Way?
[00:39:03] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Where they go over there? I haven’t. I need to get into it. I know of it, and I know of the characters.
[00:39:08] ASHLEY RAY: To me, it is my favorite of the spinoffs. You know, the original got a little dry for me. And now they’re sending Americans to, like, Morocco who are like, “What do you mean I have to make wine in a toilet because I can’t buy it in a store?”
[00:39:20] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I love that because the truth is the best parts of 90 Day Fiancé OG was when the Americans weren’t there. Like, when Big Ed went there. That’s one of the craziest moments in television ever.
[00:39:33] ASHLEY RAY: Oh yeah. Like the moment when he’s like, “Hey, I got you an anniversary present. It’s toothpaste.” And it’s like, “Oh my God.”
[00:39:41] JOHN OWEN LOWE: And it’s like, “Does my breath smell?” This show is incredible. You can’t write that stuff. That’s just too good.
[00:39:49] ASHLEY RAY: I want to say that’s why we make TV. But it’s really not. That’s how I distract myself with TV.
[00:39:56] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I’m trying to think if there’s any other shows I want to, like, shout out.
[00:39:59] ASHLEY RAY: I mean, you have impeccable reality TV taste. I got to say.
[00:40:03] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Thank you. Thank you.
[00:40:03] ASHLEY RAY: Are you doing Seeking Brother Husband?
[00:40:06] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I don’t know that.
[00:40:07] ASHLEY RAY: So, there’s Seeking Sister Wife, which is, like, creepy, religious. It’s kind of people being like, “We need a third wife for our commune.” Seeking Brother Husband is not like that. It’s, like, poly couples where the woman is just like, “I want five husbands because I’m cool. “There’s one woman who’s just like, ‘I just love dating, and I will never stop dating. So that is why I need a third husband right now.” There’s one woman who, like, cheated on her husband and then convinced him to be in an open relationship.
[00:40:37] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Checkmate. That reminds me of Too Hot to Handle.
[00:40:42] ASHLEY RAY: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
[00:40:43] JOHN OWEN LOWE: In the sense that, like, you know, my favorite thing about Too Hot to Handle is imagining the pitch meeting where you go, “Okay, here we go. We’re taking ten super-hot, young, horny people–girls–horny, young, hot girls. They’re on a resort.” And the person listening is like, “Okay. Go on.” “Now add ten super-hot, horny, young men.”
[00:41:16] ASHLEY RAY: “Yeah. Now, you’re cooking. I’m seeing something.”
[00:41:19] JOHN OWEN LOWE: “Now there’s a robot voice that tells them instructions.”
[00:41:23] ASHLEY RAY: “Okay.”
[00:41:23] JOHN OWEN LOWE: “Okay. And here’s the kick. They can’t have sex for 30 days now.”
[00:41:29] ASHLEY RAY: “How much money do you need to make this happen? I’m in. 18 seasons.”
[00:41:32] JOHN OWEN LOWE: It’s crazy. Just don’t have sex. That’s the notion.
[00:41:38] ASHLEY RAY: That’s the whole show.
[00:41:38] JOHN OWEN LOWE: “If you guys have sex, you lose the money.” And it’s like, 30 days, and they’re all like, “Oh, what are we going to do?”
[00:41:45] ASHLEY RAY: “How do we survive?”
[00:41:46] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Yeah.
[00:41:48] ASHLEY RAY: We are in it. Oh, God. So much good reality TV.
[00:41:50] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Have you seen the movie Network?
[00:41:52] ASHLEY RAY: I have. Yeah.
[00:41:53] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I feel like we live in that era.
[00:41:55] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah.
[00:41:56] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Like, where a random AI generator is coming up with stuff where it’s like, “Uh, you know, MILFs and kids. You know, people on an island–trap them. Make them think they’re dying. I don’t know.”
[00:42:09] ASHLEY RAY: “Send people to different countries, and they have to get married in a day.” It’s amazing. We are running close to the end of this. But before we go, I do want to ask you about your time on American Horror Story: Cult and working with Ryan Murphy. I have such a complicated and intense relationship with Ryan Murphy, where I absolutely love him and believe that he is his own genre.
[00:42:30] JOHN OWEN LOWE: You know for sure he is. Yes, for sure. That’s a great way of putting it.
[00:42:34] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. And it’s like sometimes I have to explain to people, “Until you speak Ryan Murphy, you may not appreciate the depth of all of his work.”
[00:42:41] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Yeah, I think Ryan–amongst many accomplishments–one of the things he did really well is he kind of revolutionized or created his own genre of camp and does it in a way that, you know–some people don’t get it–but I get it. It’s so good what he does. And look, by the way–I think he would admit this–he takes such big swings that he misses sometimes. But when he hits, he hits it out of the park. And I think that is the mark of a very talented and, you know, long-lasting artist. I really respect Ryan. And I say this as someone who, you know, worked in that world. I didn’t interact with him too much. We were friendly. He’s kind of like the Wizard of Oz without the fraudulence. In the sense that, you know, when he shows up on whatever set it is, it’s just like, “Oh my God. Over there. There he is.” And he always has great ideas. I love it because it’s, like, exactly how you want. When he comes in, he’s like, “That’s the wrong color.” And you’re just like, “You’re so right.” He’s so right.
[00:43:42] ASHLEY RAY: And he is. He just has that taste in detail for television–in camp–and what he wants to do. You know his mise en scène and his vibe. It’s beautiful.
[00:43:54] JOHN OWEN LOWE: But working on Horror Story, I was assisting the, you know, director, E.P. There’s a guy named Brad Buecker who is the best. Super talented director. He actually now works on, coincidentally, Lone Star, which I wrote on, and Rob is on. He’s sort of like Ryan’s guy for a lot of stuff. And I was on the season, Cult. And first of all, that cast was so fun.
[00:44:19] ASHLEY RAY: Very good cast that season.
[00:44:20] JOHN OWEN LOWE: That was, I think, one of their better casts. Which actually, I mean, I take that back. That’s bold.
[00:44:25] ASHLEY RAY: There’s so many good casts. But I appreciate it because there are American Horror Story fans listening who will be like, “No, no, no. I rank every season.”
[00:44:33] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I take that back. By “best” I meant it was one of their most interesting.
[00:44:37] ASHLEY RAY: I would put it in my top-five cast.
[00:44:40] JOHN OWEN LOWE: By “best” I just meant it felt like one of the bigger swings. There was a lot of new faces. I mean, it’s obvious for me… I was about to say something not phrased as well. Give me Evan Peters all the time. I love him. Sarah Paulson’s always going to deliver. Jessica Lange is always going to deliver. And I’m probably missing some other, like, you know, cornerstones of the American Horror Story Universe.
[00:45:06] ASHLEY RAY: Angela Bassett in the early seasons.
[00:45:07] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Oh, Angela Bassett’s the GOAT.
[00:45:07] ASHLEY RAY: And then I think she was like, “I’m too famous for this.”
[00:45:11] JOHN OWEN LOWE: And now on 9-1-1. Angela Bassett is so cool.
[00:45:17] ASHLEY RAY: Just… Yeah.
[00:45:17] JOHN OWEN LOWE: She came and directed one of the episodes of Cult.
[00:45:20] ASHLEY RAY: I didn’t know she directed an episode that season. That’s amazing!
[00:45:23] JOHN OWEN LOWE: And she is so nice, so professional, and looks 25 years old. It bugs me a little. I’m like, “You’re perfect.”
[00:45:34] ASHLEY RAY: I do actually think she might be a vampire. And I wouldn’t even be mad if it came out that she had, like, I don’t know, a blood cellar in her basement. I’d be like, “Let her do her thing.”
[00:45:43] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Same. This is a weird take, but I feel like… And Angela Bassett is, like, a renowned celebrity–household name. I’m like, “Angela Bassett is underrated.” She could be even more legit.
[00:45:54] ASHLEY RAY: Even more famous. She should be doing so much more.
[00:45:55] JOHN OWEN LOWE: So that’s me giving her flowers. But yes. Cult was fascinating. You know, working in, you know, like, Ryan world–Ryan Murphy land–everything they do is so exciting. There’s a sense of excitement that goes along with showing up every day. It’s invigorating and also exhausting. My hat’s off to those people that have been doing it and doing it well for as long as they have been. And I learned so much. And I feel like I carried some of those things I learned about the industry and how television is made with me. But it also was, like, a spin cycle that I was like, “Holy smokes, I don’t know if I’m cut out for this.”
[00:46:31] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, I love that so many people come back to work with him again and again. It must be such a wonderful experience.
[00:46:38] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Oh, it’s riveting.
[00:46:38] ASHLEY RAY: And also, his shows seem grueling to me, especially American Horror Story.
[00:46:46] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I’ll tell you one thing. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind me saying this because that’s the other thing. Ryan Murphy is incredible. And I don’t think he’d mind me saying this. I’m scared of him. And I’m not saying any of the compliments because I’m scared of him, I promise. But yes, one thing I’m sure they’d be comfortable with me sharing is they use atmosphere for all of their shots, right? So just cranking atmosphere. And so, you’d go and shoot in these tiny little locations, and, like, you’re just choking on atmosphere. But the shots… That’s why the show looks so good. It’s so heavy and so demented. And you have, like, Evan in a corner, borderline method acting. It’s so good. And you’re like, “If I talk to him right now, he’s a serial killer.”
[00:47:32] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. “He would stab me.”
[00:47:34] JOHN OWEN LOWE: It’s a fascinating experience.
[00:47:35] ASHLEY RAY: Oh, gosh. I kind of want to rewatch that season now. Thank you for sharing that. That’s so cool. I am obsessed with the musical Falsettoland, and my dream is for Ryan Murphy to adapt that for television.
[00:47:48] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I’m not familiar with that.
[00:47:49] ASHLEY RAY: It’s like this three-part musical that came out in the ’80s and ’90s about this man who realizes late in life that he’s gay and leaves his wife and child. And it is kind of a Pose vibe with, like, a Glee vibe with musical.
[00:48:07] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Whoa. You need a meeting with Ryan. That sounds very up his alley.
[00:48:08] ASHLEY RAY: Right? I’m like, “Dude, you gotta make this.” And then it just kind of turns into maybe the newest season of American Horror Story: New York, where it gets really into the AIDS epidemic and just, like, this really intense take. He’s just one of those creators where I’m like, “His taste…” Yeah, like you said, he’s created his own version of camp.
[00:48:26] JOHN OWEN LOWE: For sure. And I do have to shout out one of his partners, Tim Minear. You know, he’s the co-creator on Horror Story and Lone Star and was sort of one of my bosses and is so talented. And he’s part of the genius in that system. And I would just be remiss if I didn’t say shoutout to Tim.
[00:48:44] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah.
[00:48:46] JOHN OWEN LOWE: He’s a beautiful genius.
[00:48:49] ASHLEY RAY: You have had all the best TV people in your career. I mean, and it pays off with Unstable because it’s a hit right out of the gate for me. And one more little question. Have you heard news about a Season Two pick up for Unstable?
[00:49:04] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I have not. I also don’t know what I’m allowed to say.
[00:49:07] ASHLEY RAY: Okay. Okay. Fair enough. But it doesn’t matter because we are going to be fighting for it.
[00:49:12] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Yeah. The thing I would say is everybody wants to do it.
[00:49:17] ASHLEY RAY: Everybody wants to do it. I want it. And if Ashley Ray and TV, I Say want it, it happens. My mom thinks I run Hollywood, and so this is how it goes.
[00:49:26] JOHN OWEN LOWE: As far as I’m concerned, you do.
[00:49:27] ASHLEY RAY: Thank you. Thank you. So, like I said, Unstable’s complete first season is streaming now on Netflix. John, is there anything else you want to plug? Social media handles? Go catch up on Watch What Happens Live.
[00:49:37] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Yeah, I’m johnnylowe on Instagram. And like I said, I genuinely like hearing from fans of the show. So, if you want to tweet me or, you know, whatever… I don’t know what you would call it. DM me, Instagram thing, post it story, story it.
[00:49:50] ASHLEY RAY: TikTok it.
[00:49:51] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Give it some love. TikTok is a thing! I forgot about that.
[00:49:53] ASHLEY RAY: I forget about it all the time.
[00:49:55] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Post a TikTok.
[00:49:56] ASHLEY RAY: Do the TikTok.
[00:49:57] JOHN OWEN LOWE: Do a Tok.
[00:49:58] ASHLEY RAY: I want to thank my wonderful, wonderful guest, John Owen Lowe. And you know, we’re just going to wrap it up for your homework for next week’s episode. Like I said, Extrapolations. We have the finale. Just watch the show, so I feel like I’m not crazy in watching it. We still have Seeking Brother Husband. I have a really fun interview with the main couple on that show that’ll be out on Prime Timer. So, if you’re not caught up on Seeking Brother Husband, make sure you are. And then, of course, I’m going to tell you to dive back deep in the 90 Day world. 90 Day: The Other Way–I think I’m going to have some fun, exciting guests from 90 Day joining us soon on the pod. So, there you go. That’s your homework. Yeah. Some fun stuff to watch.
[00:50:37] JOHN OWEN LOWE: You’ve got fun stuff ahead.
[00:50:37] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah. Unstable. Some great reality shows. Should I throw something serious in there? There’s a new documentary on the Boston Marathon bombing on Netflix.
[00:50:46] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I saw that.
[00:50:48] ASHLEY RAY: That was one of those… Heavy. Yeah. One of those docs where I was like, “I was alive. I saw it on the news.”
[00:50:54] JOHN OWEN LOWE: “I don’t know how much more I want to know.”
[00:50:55] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, it’s like, “I saw that happen.” But–
[00:50:57] JOHN OWEN LOWE: I watched the Mark Wahlberg movie.
[00:50:59] ASHLEY RAY: Yeah, there’s your deep, heavy pick if you need something sad to watch. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll be back next week with another episode. TV, I Say with Ashley Ray is an Earwolf production made by me, Ashley Ray-Harris. It’s engineered by Abby Aguilar and produced by Amelia Chappelow. And our original theme song is by RaFia. It means so much to me if you go rate, review, subscribe. Follow TV, I Say. Let us know what you think and tell your friends. Share with your Golden Girls. Tell your Boys. If you love my TV recommendations, let everyone you know know. For special TV Club members, join my Patreon. And you can also find my full archive of ad free episodes of TV, I Say over on Stitcher Premium. Use Promo code “tvisay”–all one word–for a one-month free trial at stitcher.com/premium.
December 5, 2023
Is Gerry a love bomber? Did Theresa really “knock his boots off” with her kisses? Scam Goddess host Laci Mosley and Ashley break down the most shocking moments from The Golden Bachelor finale and Laci decides if she’s a Leslie or a Theresa.
November 28, 2023
Guest Sona Movsesian
Gilmore Girls, Friends, The Office – what TV do you put on to drown out your family during the holidays?