Melissa Peterman: CMT’s Sweetheart

Many of us remember her as the ditzy, loveable and hilarious Barbara Jean on Reba, but Melissa Peterman is anything but ditzy in real life. She is, of course, still hilarious and loveable, though. This week, several bloggers got the chance to speak with Melissa about her new sticom, Working Class, premiering on CMT on January 28. Melissa was a delight to speak with, quick witted and genuine and I’m excited to pass on her gem of a show to you all.

In Working Class, Melissa plays Carli, a twice divorced mother to three kids who moves them to a better neighborhood in an effort to give them “the good life.” The move leaves Carli struggling to pay the bills, watering down milk and working behind the deli counter of a local grocery store to make ends meet. It’s a very real setting with a very comical outlook.

Carli talks a mile a minute and quips one liners with ease. Of course, it’s never easier to find the funny when you’re playing off of Ed Asner who plays Hank, another grocery store employee who barks out his lines with perfect timing and plenty of gruff.

What makes Carli so loveable is her outlook on life. She’s always ready to laugh and in doing so allows us to laugh right along. In these tough economic times, that laughter will prove invaluable. When I spoke with Melissa, I asked her how she managed to find the funny in her day to day life as a working mom. Here was her gracious answer:

Well, I think I’m lucky. Laughter is usually always a part of our home. I met my husband doing improv and he’s hilarious. It doesn’t mean you’re always funny or always “on,” but laughter is always here so that’s a good thing. And as far as finding a balance, I think it’s okay to say sometimes [life] isn’t balanced. Sometimes my husband definitely takes more of the brunt of the day-to-day stuff, and then sometimes I am. I know I’m so lucky to have a partner that is so willing and able to pick up the slack for me and I for him when it changes.

I also think, you know, we put so much pressure on ourselves! [We think], “Oh, my gosh. I didn’t do this today and I didn’t take him there, and I promised I was going to…you know, I was going to make my own flash cards and so on.”

And you know I think kids – they don’t care. They forgive you. They’re like, “Oh, you’re just here and I got [to read] a book with you and I laughed today.” So, I feel like you’ve got to give yourself a break…

I also got to ask her what it was like to work with the great Ed Asner who sinks into his role as the cantankerous Hank with delicious glee. Here was her answer:

It’s like a dream come true. First off, I found myself the first couple of scenes with him where I would sort of freeze and just in my head there was like a CNN (scroll) going, “He has seven Emmy’s. He has seven Emmy’s. He has seven Emmy’s.” And I would just sort of freeze and look at him and I couldn’t believe that this legend, this guy with 50 years of TV experience is sharing a scene with me.

And he’s hilarious, he is still one of the funniest men around, and his timing is impeccable. And for us as a cast to get to look up to a legend and watch him work every day, it’s unbelievable. I think my favorite moment of 2011 thus far is going to visit Ed and bringing [my son] Riley along and I had to yell to my son, “Riley, put the Emmy down. Put the Emmy down.”

And I thought, “I can’t believe that I am telling my son to put down Ed Asner’s Emmy.” You know, I love Ed as Lou Grant from Mary Tyler Moore, my husband loved him from the Lou Grant show, but Riley things he’s Mr. Frederickson from Up. And so, as we left Ed’s home, Riley said, “He – well, he looks really different,” and I said, “Well, he’s not a cartoon.”

So, it’s sort of like all of our – our whole family love him for different reasons, but it’s a dream come true. It’s like you pinch yourself. It’s Ed Asner. It’s just a joy. And when he has complimented me or said something nice to me, I can barely take it because I know who he’s worked with. I know the people he has [starred] with, so it’s just pretty awesome. I kept thinking, “Please come back tomorrow. You’re going to come back tomorrow, right?”

Join us on Friday, January 28 at 8:00/7:00c as we enjoy the premiere of Working Class on CMT.


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