Catfights. Drunken confessions. Air kisses. Denounced friendships. Overturned tables. With all its outrageous drama, the Real Housewives franchise is ripe for spoofing—and someone has finally done it.
Seven episodes of the new series The Hotwives of Orlando , starring Casey Wilson, Angela Kinsey, Kristen Schaal, Tymberlee Hill, Andrea Savage and Danielle Schneider, are currently streaming on Hulu.
Kinsey, best known as the uptight Angela on The Office, plays the deeply religious (although she’s never read the Bible) Crystal on the series. Paste recently had the chance to chat with Kinsey about her new series, when she first realized she was funny and how people still have trouble letting go of her Dunder-Mifflin character.
Paste: How did you get cast on The Hotwives of Orlando?
Angela Kinsey: A lot of us ladies had sort of known each other in different circles just doing improv in LA. Danielle [Schneider], one of the co-creators, she emailed me and said, “We think it would be so much fun if you came on board. Give it a read. See what you think, we’re just kind of doing it on a budget, doing it for fun.” And I read it and I thought it was hilarious, and it would be great to have a chance to play with these amazing women who I already thought were so smart and so funny.
Paste: I read that you had never watched an episode of any of the Housewives before you were cast.
Kinsey: I hadn’t even seen any of the Housewives shows. Jenna [Fischer] had always liked them and would come into hair and makeup talking about them and I was like, “Oh my God. What are you watching, woman?” When I told the producers I had never seen any of them, they sent me a few episodes to watch, and you catch on pretty quick. It almost comes across as bored housewives who get together and drink wine and yell at each other.
Paste: The show is a satire but it’s not that far-fetched from the actual Housewives franchise.
Kinsey: It’s very close, I feel like. We’re only a few hop-skips away. I watched one from Orange County and all of these parties have these themes. And all of the sudden it’s a luau party and there’s guys eating fire and there’s women doing Polynesian dancing but they kind of just look like out-of-work actors that got off from Disney late.
Paste: The series shot seven episodes in seven days. What kind of prep work do you do to prepare for such an intense shoot?
Kinsey I was a little bit luckier that the other girls because I only did four days; I already had a hard-out commitment that I promised to do, but on my four days, I was there until 3 a.m. it was intense those four days. What I wanted to do with Crystal, what was fun for me, is she’s not the bitch, she’s kind of ditzy and clueless, and she can be mean to her sister. But she’s also so in love with Orlando and her life in Orlando and just trying to find that earnestness in her. She’s religious, but I feel like her religion is more like a social club, a country club religion. She’s a weather girl for Orlando, which she loves. I just always try to approach any role and find some kind of honesty so that way when the situations get a little crazy, I’m at least coming from an honest place. When the wacky happens there’s something in it that you still believe.
I do that with everything. My character on The Office, was such a bitch and was miserable all the time and I thought, ‘Well, why are a lot of people miserable? Probably because they’re just unhappy. Why are a lot of people mean? Usually they have a lot of fear.’ So I try to find those things that make a character real to me. Crystal, she’s kind of just like a hummingbird. I feel like that’s her brain capacity. She’s not a horrible person, but she’s definitely a ditz.
Paste: Crystal is based on Alexis Bellino from The Real Housewives of Orange County. Did you watch a lot of her episodes before you began filming?
Kinsey I think that’s who [creators Dannah Phirman and Danielle Schneider] had in mind. But I didn’t watch very much because I just wanted to sort of have my own stamp on it. I just watched some episodes of Beverly Hills and Orange County just to kind of get an overview of the show and what the tone is and what these women are up to. But I think when they wrote it, they know the shows so well that Alexis is who they had in mind. I didn’t pay too much attention to it because I didn’t want to have anyone in my head while I was doing it.
Paste: How much did the cast improvise?
Kinsey:It really reminded me of The Office a lot in that regard where if there was an opportunity to improvise you could sort of bounce it off the writer and see what they thought, and then sort of have your moment. I definitely found I improvised the most in my little talking head moments, which was very similar on The Office as well. You’re not messing anyone else up. You’re not messing up any story. I felt like we all had moments, especially in the group scenes, where we would get it as written and have a take or two to play around a little bit.
Paste: How was it to work with a predominantly female cast?
Kinsey: It was awesome. We were cracking each other up. There was no diva anything like that happening at all. It was just a group of funny smart women who all are very confident and were just there to have a good time. It felt like a really seasoned team where you were just as happy to take the shot as you were to pass the ball and just so excited to see what your teammates could do. I loved it. I think for a lot of us ladies out in Hollywood in the comedy world it’s usually a room full of men and maybe one or two funny gals, and this time we all got to be there. It was great.
Paste: After The Office ended, was it hard to get people to see you as someone other than Angela?
Kinsey: I definitely get a lot of calls to play like a really abrasive bitch. I’m like, you guys, that was one role. I know it was nine years and I’m very thankful, but we can branch out now? It’s definitely something, getting people to sort of see past that, and then also in my everyday life, I’ll be at the grocery store, and someone will come up to me and be like, ‘How many cats do you really have?’ It so becomes who you are to other people. If I’m ever photographed with anyone other than Rainn Wilson people are like, “Wait, where’s Dwight?”
Paste Any chance we’ll see you back on New Girl as Rose?
Kinsey: They actually just contacted me to see if I was available in August. You never know, scripts change quickly but I would love to go back. It was such a great group of people. I just love that set. Everyone was so much fun. I’m hoping that works out.
Paste: What else is coming up for you?
Kinsey: I did this movie called All Stars. Basically,we’re making fun of parents who are super into Little League. I play one of the crazy moms. That was really fun. I myself am a writer. I sold a show last year but it didn’t go. I have a few ideas. So I’ll be kicking those around.
Paste: When did you first know you were funny?
Kinsey: I feel like my family is a very colorful Southern family. I grew up without television interestingly enough and I was in Indonesia and we just didn’t have television so my family would sit around and tell stories. I felt like if you could really hold everyone’s attention you were really rewarded, and I just think that’s something early on … I was the youngest, it was harder for me to get everyone’s attention, so that was something I just started doing. My dad is very funny; my mom has a great sense of humor. My mom tells me that when I was four I told her I wanted to be Carol Burnett.
Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.