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To kick off the 2019 Fall TV season, Fox is giving The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers and Family Guy a new Sunday night neighbor in the form of Bless the Harts. Created by comedy writer and producer Emily Spivey, of SNL and The Last Man on Earth fame, Bless the Harts stars Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Jillian Bell as three generations of Southern women who don't let financial troubles get in the way of them being rich in laughs.
Primetime TV doesn't often embrace Southern characters as much more than punchlines or oddities, but some exceptions do exist. It's precisely those exceptions that Emily Spivey wanted to honor with Bless the Harts. The Emmy-winning Spivey spoke with CinemaBlend at this year's Television Critics Association summer press tour, and when I asked her about tackling Southern storytelling without dipping into politics or negative stereotypes, here's what she told me:
Now, no one is going to go out there saying that Maya Rudolph's word-farting Betty Hart is the smartest and most grounded character in the history of television, but Emily Spivey's point remains a salient one. There are definitely ways for a TV show to strike deeper into the fabric of life in the Southern states, which is something more in tune with HBO's The Righteous Gemstones, but Bless the Harts falls in line with classic TV sitcoms that viewers can truly relate to.
With Ike Barinholtz rounding out the main cast as Jenny's boyfriend Wayne, Bless the Harts definitely has similar vibes with King of the Hill, which Emily Spivey was a writer on. But it's also akin to many '70s and '80s TV staples that centered on loving families barely scraping by. Speaking to how prevalent that way of life is in many areas of the country, Emily Spivey told me the idea for Bless the Harts spawned out of a previous collaboration she had with Kristen Wiig. In her words:
As a card-carrying resident of the South, I can definitely speak to how life falls into completely different rotations than how things go elsewhere. Hell, it's not even uniformly the same from one Southern small town to the next, so there's always something interesting going on, to put it lightly. Especially when boxed wine is involved.
Beyond the jokes and the heartwarming moments, part of the fun in watching Bless the Harts is hearing the awesome cast nailing those Southern accents. Here's what Emily Spivey, who co-wrote the Netflix feature Wine Country, had to say about those:
And it only gets bigger and better after the premiere. After all, it's always a party when someone starts raising ostriches, right? Exactly.
Bless the Harts premieres on Fox on Sunday, September 29, at 8:30 p.m. ET.