Tag Archives: Work

Improv star Abby McEnany a ‘Work in Progress’ in new series

“Work in Progress” will appeal to anyone who’s navigated, or is currently riding, life’s emotional rollercoaster — taking the good with the bad while trying, really trying, to make sense of it all.

The new slice-of-life comedy series, created by Chicago-based improv veterans Abby McEnany and Tim Mason — and starring McEnany in the lead role — beats with a lot of heart in its portrayal of 45-year-old Abby (McEnany), a self-described “fat, queer d–e who’s done s–t in her life.” When the series opens, Abby, who journals obsessively, is going through a tough time: not only does her therapist die during their weekly session (it’s actually a very funny scene), but she’s bored at her temp job. She’s particularly distressed by a co-worker who’s given Abby 180 almonds in an effort to help her lose some weight. Abby confides to (and alarms) her married-with-two kids sister, Alison (Karin Anglin), that she’s contemplating ending it all. She vows to dispose of an almond a day; if, at the end of 180 days, nothing has changed, she’ll take matters into her own hands. “I’m done. I’m out. I’m sick of struggling,” Abby says, throwing down the gauntlet.

Things take a turn for the positive when Abby, out for coffee with her sister, meets Chris (Theo Germaine), a much-younger transgender man with whom Abby strikes up what evolves, over the course of a week or so (and fewer almonds), into a romantic relationship. Abby’s interactions with Chris force her to confront her fears and insecurities, most memorably in their first date at a restaurant — where Abby spies former “Saturday Night Live” star Julia Sweeney, whose gender-ambiguous “SNL” character, Pat, “ruined my life,” Abby tells Chris (while noting that, in her younger years, she resembled the Pat character). Abby hates confrontation — “I approach conflict like an armadillo. I just roll up and play dead,” she says — and when she meets Sweeney, her reaction is priceless. (Sweeney is one of the show’s executive producers and will reappear in future episodes.)

As the series progresses, Abby and Chris’ relationship goes into overdrive as we eventually meet both Chris’ circle of friends and the other members of Abby’s immediate family, including Alison’s good-natured husband, Mike, and their two kids (a teenage girl and younger boy). “Work in Progress,” co-written by Lilly Wachowski (“The Matrix,” “Sense8”), moves along at a rapid clip, with some snappy one-liners, most of them uttered by Abby and by Celeste Pechous, who plays her best friend, Campbell. The series was shot on-location in Chicago, so it has a “city” feel to it, which helps to set the stage for Abby’s journey of self-reflection and, hopefully, self-improvement.

“Work in Progress” premieres Sunday at 11PM ET/PT on Showtime.

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