The "Barely Famous" sisters dish on their new show, what it takes to be a lady boss, and celebrity culture
Barely Famous is a half-hour comedy that is meant to spoof everything from the reality show genre to LA culture, and does a lot of empowering in between, and Sara and Erin Foster are the funny ladies behind our new fave non-reality show.
Erin and Sara grew up in Hollywood, the daughter of the insanely successful music producer David Foster (formerly married to Beverly Hills Housewife Yolanda), and Sara played Jen Clark on the CW’s 90210 reboot.
These ladies are no stranger to Hollywood life, but as Erin tells it, “we were not in a place in our careers where we wanted to be, so we took a chance and tried to create content that is funny and interesting.” And now they have (what I consider to be) the funniest show on TV right now.
Me and the Foster sisters chatted for a while, (because sometimes dreams really do come true) and here’s the most important bits to read if you’ve ever watched a reality show, ever taken yourself too seriously, or ever been called “difficult.”
HelloGiggles: What are the things we need to know about Barely Famous?
Sara Foster: We need everyone to know it’s a scripted show. There is not one moment that you see in the show that is actually happening. In fact, I’ve had people come up to me and say, “You seem like such a bad mother,” and I have to tell them, “What are you talking about? The kid that plays my daughter on the show isn’t even my kid in real life!”
Erin Foster: I would like for the show to be a conversation starter. To inspire women to not take themselves so seriously, and to be more authentic. Self-awareness is a learned behavior, and I think it’s a choice you make – being able to look at your flaws, and your effect on people and understand place in life. This is our way of doing that.
HG: Why take on celebrity culture?
EF: A lot of times when people are insecure, their instinct is to self-promote or inflate their ego. A lot of women in LA are constantly telling you how busy they are, when really, they probably don’t have all that much going on. And so, sometimes when you watch two characters who represent the worst parts of ourselves (and when I say, “ourselves,” I mean the collective — people in general) it helps you NOT to want to be like that.
HG: Like the episode with Jessica Alba?
SF: Yes. It’s the same with people who are as famous as she is. Sometimes Jessica Alba might be sick of being Jessica Alba. Obviously, she won’t go on Jimmy Fallon acting like a lunatic, but she likes to play characters that show her comedic chops. She wasn’t playing herself – but a sillier version of herself.
HG: What about LA? Why come so hard at it?
EF: It’s like the mean girl in High School who’s not nice and never follows the rules, and is awful to everyone, but seems to get away with everything. I feel like Los Angeles rewards people for for bad behavior – rewards them with fame or money or notoriety. For nothing. For being ridiculous.
We’re in a culture that perpetuates unhealthy standards, and I think LA is a big part of that.
HG: Do you ever have celebrities that say no when you ask them to come on the show?
SF: Nobody has said no. It’s amazing. There’s been some scheduling stuff, but nobody didn’t want to come on and make fun of themselves. Although, Chris Martin didn’t really want to be mean to Erin in his episode.
EF: Originally, we wanted Chris to play the direct opposite of his genuine, sweet self. We wanted the storyline to be that he has been on a bunch of reality shows, but they always cut him because he’s not exciting enough. We wanted him to be so desperate to not get cut that he throws a glass of wine in my face.
He really didn’t want to throw the wine, and it kept getting to the cue to throw the wine and he kept not doing it. He finally did it, but we wound up not using it because you could really tell he didn’t want to do it. We don’t ever want to make somebody do something they don’t want to do.
HG: Some of the jokes are pretty controversial. Is there ever any fallout?
EF: Here’s what I think happens: it’s very obvious that they are characters. And when we have Sara’s character saying things like, “we have a [abortion] guy” it’s just making a joke about the lifestyle. We’re not advocating or condemning abortion. We’re not taking a position.
It’s really about Sara’s character looking at the possibility of her sister with a child and her first thought is “if it’s not a celebrity’s baby, then you should get rid of that kid.” We’re taking on the Hollywood tendency to adopt a casualness about something that should be serious, and we’re making it funny.
SF: Because, you know, everybody in LA has a guy for everything.
HG: Season 2 of Barely Famous is a little more intense than the first. Is that on purpose?
EF: Yes. There are a lot of rules when you’re making TV, and one of those is making the protagonist likable. And we struggled with that in season 2 because I really disagree with it. I don’t think you need to watch a character that has a redeeming moment every episode. I don’t think people are watching these girls to see them win. They are watching the most vapid, insecure parts of yourself fail. And its okay for them to fail, because you know, going in, they are going to fail.
HG: Why do you think it’s so important to make female protagonists likable? Why do you disagree with that?
EF: Don’t you think it’s really sexist? To have to be likable all the time in real life and in the shows as well? Women feel a need for people to like them, but that is not something we’re afraid of now, and we are certainly NOT creating characters like that.
As showrunners and show creators we argue with men in positions of power, and who want us to be “agreeable,” all day long. At some point as a woman, in any business, you have to make a decision that you’d rather do things the way you want to do them, than be likable.
I believe if it comes from an authentic place, you you can be both. You have to be unafraid to say and demand what you want. I don’t really give a shit about being likable, and when that comes from a real place, you win people over anyway.
HG: Your show has a certain I Love Lucy vibe. How do you contend with that comparison?
EF: That is an interesting comparison, because obviously Lucille Ball was one of the most likable female comedians o television. However, every single episode she was fucking something up — doing something she “was told supposed to do,” being mad, being difficult, getting in husband’s way. But if you execute it the right way, your character can be an asshole and still be likable. Like Lucy.
Barely Famous airs on VH1, Wednesdays at 10/9c.