Before our intrepid TV Club correspondents traveled to this summer’s Television Critics Association press tour, we asked readers to submit questions that we could pose to the TV pros attending the event. (And we made one up ourselves.) With those questions and the answers they prompted, we bring you the TV Club Questionnaire.
Tyler Labine has been a familiar face on the small screen for several years now, but the Canadian-born actor spent many of those years as a cast member of shows that generally only lasted for a single season, including ABC’s Invasion, Fox’s Sons Of Tucson, CBS’s Mad Love, and NBC’s Animal Practice. A notable exception was The CW’s Reaper, which still only lasted two seasons. But there seems to be a correlation between Labine selecting supernatural-themed shows and finding success: His current endeavor, Hulu’s Deadbeat, was renewed for a third season.
If you could be working on any other television series currently on the air, which one would it be, and why?
Tyler Labine: Ooh! [Hesitates.] Well, first of all, define “air.”
The A.V. Club: “Available for viewing, currently producing new episodes.”
TL: Okay, because you have to check these things when you’re on Hulu. [Laughs.] All right, so for my number one choice—there is a caveat, because I have a crush on the lead—Broad City. I have a big crush on Ilana Glazer. She’s gorgeous and funny! But if I could be on any show, honestly, it might have to be Bloodline. I just got into Bloodline, and it’s so good. It’d be fun to play. The characters are so multifaceted and dark and twisted and weird. Like, all of them. Every single one of them, it was, like, “Whoa, I don’t know…” Those guys are great. They’re fantastic writers.
What are your earliest memories of TV, and did they have any bearing on you wanting to have a career in TV?
TL: My earliest memories of TV are Sesame Street, for sure, but if you’re getting into more influential stuff… Well, Sesame Street is obviously influential on my development, but as far as influential on my taste, it was, like, The A-Team, the original Flash—that one glorious season that there was—and a lot of those kind of high-octane, cheaply produced ’80s shows. For me, there was just something about it that made it bonding time for me and my dad, which I liked, too. There was something about The A-Team, though. So many great one-liners, and the characters were all great. But I’d say that Murdock was probably the most influential. I was, like, “If you can be that guy in every show, if you can be the wild card and the crazy, kooky guy, then why would you ever want to be anybody else?” [Laughs.] So that says a lot about some my choices, probably.
What efforts do you take to promote diverse viewpoints, and how do you think that has affected storytelling, either on your show or the television medium as a whole?
TL: I think diverse viewpoints in general are kind of the only thing to talk about. I feel like a lot of times if you’re in conversation and you’re not entertained by it, it’s because you’re talking to somebody who does not have a diverse viewpoint. If the two of you see things exactly the same, I feel like sometimes there’s just nothing left to talk about. So I guess in my life I’m consistently looking for diverse viewpoints on things and ways to sort of push my agenda on people… and I’d like people to push their agendas on me! [Laughs.]
I feel like if you genuinely have something unique to say or a unique way to say it, then you have to find a soapbox and get up there and say it loud, man. It’s the same with TV or any creative endeavor I enjoy. As far as any efforts I make, I just kind of try to live my life that way. My choices, I think, are a little more diverse, and I try to hang out with diverse people… I try to make efforts every day in that regard. Like, take, for instance, [series creator] Cody Heller right here. She’s white and blue-eyed, I’m white and blue-eyed…
Cody Heller: I am Jewish, though.
TL: She’s Jewish. See, there you go. Diversity! [Laughs.]
If you could add something to the show you’re working on, without anyone knowing about it beforehand and free from any consequences from upset coworkers…
TL: No, no, no, hold on. [Points to Heller.] This is the creator of the show!
CH: Do you want me to walk away? I can walk away.
TL: No, hold on, there’s only one more question. You can hear this! [Laughs.] Okay, so what was it again?
If you could add something to the show you’re working on, without anyone knowing about it beforehand and free from any consequences from upset coworkers/networks/viewers, what would it be?
TL: That my character had a huge dong. Although, wait, have we…?
CH: We have, yeah.
TL: Okay, so we’ve established that. [Laughs.] So scratch that. I’ve got a better answer. I think—and I think I can say this safely—that I’d want my character to delve further into finding out who his parents were. That’s what I’ve always wanted. I want him to figure out not just why he has a gift, but where it came from, what the lineage is, the legacy and all that stuff. [Turns to Heller.] Just saying.
CH: I got it. [Laughs.]
If any character from your show could be given a spin-off, who would it be and what would be the premise of the new show?
TL: Me. I’d get my own spin-off. It would be the same premise. [Laughs.] No, if any character could get a spin-off… I mean, they’re all dead, man! But I think it would be Millie.
CH: Can I say one thing?
CH: I could see a spin-off if you died at the end of a season.
TL: So if I died at the end of season three, for example, then the spin-off would be my life in the afterlife.
TL: That really seems like an ’80s movie. [Laughs.] I’m sticking with Millie. I’d say Millie would make a good spin-off. But that’d be the same thing, really, in that underworld and afterlife realm. She’s got her role, and she’s controlling some shit. She’s got it. She knew what she was doing and knew how to get around all the loopholes. I think that’s an interesting world: where a ghost has figured out how to sort of hack the system and learned how to make the most of being dead.