Small Screen: Single Parents star knows realities of fatherhood

LOS ANGELES — There was no need to explain to Single Parents star Taran Killam the highs, lows, demands, sacrifices and joy of being a parent before he began working on the new ABC comedy. As a father of two children under the age of nine with actor Cobie Smulders, he had to deal with all those emotions while working on Saturday Night Live.

“It was very challenging to be on the show and having children,” Killam says. “The first four seasons I was on the show, I was commuting because Cobie was still doing How I Met Your Mother in Los Angeles. Every hiatus week, I would fly home. It was two or three weeks of working and then flying home any chance possible.

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“It was exhausting and challenging but the benefit was that I was allowed to focus my energy while I was there.”

In Single Parents, airing Wednesdays, Killam plays Will Cooper, a single father who has spent so much time raising his daughter that he has no time for himself. Other single parents at Will’s daughter’s school — Angie (Leighton Meester), Douglas (Brad Garrett), Poppy (Kimrie Lewis) and Miggy (Jake Choi) — form a parental intervention to help Will find some time for himself.

Killam is at home more now and gets to spend additional time with his children.

But, doing a half-hour comedy that’s shot like a feature film takes up a lot of hours. He’s using the time at home as a way to relate to his character.

“Cobie works a lot. I work a lot. So, we trade off for long stretches of having the kids by ourselves,” Killam says. “Something I read in the script that really spoke to it was that you miss that person. It’s not that ‘Oh, it’s trying and I have to make all the lunches.’ You go into autopilot and that stuff feels manageable.

“But the good stuff, you feel you’re missing your partner to share that stuff with.”

Both Killam and Smulders try to narrow their work windows so they can be together as a family as much as possible. It takes some planning, but it is something they are committed to doing.

One of the themes he has seen in Single Parents is people showing how they need each other. In the series, the other parents keep stopping Will from describing the efforts of the group to deal with parenting as it taking a village. The line is played for comedy, but it’s a distinct way to describe what will unfold each week.

Killam talks in glowing terms about his latest network project, from the members of the cast to the executives in charge. But, the one thing that makes him the happiest is while he gets to do some improv during the filming of Single Parents, he’s not having to write every one of his lines as he did for six seasons of SNL. He’s always excited to get a script and know all he has to do is show up and act.

Executive producer J.J. Philbin describes Single Parents as a show where it’s not just Killam’s character, but all of the parents who working on themselves. The group is helping each one see the parts of their life they need to fill in and develop more.

“I would say we’re doing a lot of stories about the characters trying to find love, trying to figure out what their passions are, figure out who they are beyond just being parents. And they can really only do that with the help of each other,” says Philbin.

All things Killam understood long before landing the role in Single Parents.

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