A Love Letter to I’m Sorry and a Tribute to Funny Moms in 3 BitsImage courtesy of Scott Everett White/Turner Comedy Features I'm Sorry
Created by and starring Andrea Savage, the lightly scripted half-hour comedy I’m Sorry (TruTV, 2017-2019) was unceremoniously canceled while filming Season 3. For its fans, such an end was a rude shock. I’m Sorry has drawn many comparisons to the improvised kvetch-fest Curb Your Enthusiasm, but make no mistake: it is not Curb dyed pink. I’m Sorry offers its own unapologetic perspective on being funny, being a mom, and being a funny mom. It never asks if women can have it all, because that question is comedically played out. After all, girls—even those with responsibilities—just want to have fun.
Andrea Warren (Savage) is a comedy writer, wife to lawyer Mike (Tom Everett Scott), and the mother of a kindergartner. Her struggles to move between these different roles is always played with a light touch, energized by a cast of beloved comedians including Martin Mull, Nelson Franklin, Gary Anthony Williams, and Kathy Baker.
In many ways, the show harnesses the warm, chaotic energy of a blooper montage, as the actors gleefully make things up as they go along. But unlike a gag reel, it is not an accident or a matter of making their co-star “break.” The actors’ chuckles and expressions of surprise are folded into the characters’ interactions. Where does Andrea Warren end and Andrea Savage begin? The answer is just another question: who cares, when such a good time is to be had?
In its sweetest, funniest moments, I’m Sorry feels like life at its best. The stakes are low, the joy sky-high, the laughs free and easy and rarely too mean. I’m Sorry turns the world into a Groundlings stage in which being a mother and being a comedian are no longer in tension, but one in which the normies, the squares, and even the jerks are all in on the joke.
Because comic “bits”—running gags and set-ups, capped with gratifying punchlines—are Andrea’s love language, here are three bits that made me fall for I’m Sorry.
The Bit with the Crystals
The character of Andrea Warren could all too easily fall into the “not like the other girls” trap, with her crass language and her fizzy back-and-forth with writing partner Kyle (played to perfection by Jason Mantzoukas, her co-star in the 2015 film Sleeping With Other People). This is why Season 1, “Goddess Party,” is so crucial for establishing Andrea’s girl power credentials.
When Andrea’s newly divorced friend Jennifer (Alison Tolman) asks her to host a “Goddess Party” in her honor, Andrea bites her snarky tongue and supports her cherished pal. “You’re doing your ‘I’m sincere’ impression,” her husband remarks, as Andrea tries to explain the rituals to him. Despite her manifold screw-ups in the party planning process (including telling the passive-aggressive crystal saleswoman: “Oh fuck you, I’ll get the rose quartz. I mean, obviously not fuck you. Fuck the universe, fuck you!”), her impression of sincerity becomes, at least in part, real. “It wasn’t, like, super touchy-feely. It was just, like, the perfect amount of touching,” Andrea declares, proving that while she may be a sarcastic soul, her heart is not made of stone. (It is made of fucking rose quartz.)
The Bit with Mr. Castellotti
When Andrea develops an explicit inside joke about her daughter’s mustachioed kindergarten teacher, Mr. Castellotti (Brian Stepanek), it is only a matter of time before she gets caught in the act. Unfortunately for her, this big reveal comes in the form of an accidental email in the Season 1 episode “Miss Diana Ross.” Mr. Castellotti ends up the lucky recipient of a mistaken CC that describes Andrea’s sweaty, if, ahem, brief, fantasy sexual romps with the teacher she has named “Ted.”
The twist comes when Andrea goes to her daughter’s school to apologize, only to discover that Mr. Castellotti’s humor is akin to her own. With a straight face, he informs her that he now can last up to seven minutes (to be clear, during intercourse) by thinking about labor laws. “He’s my people!” Andrea squeals to her husband later. “I don’t want your people teaching our daughter,” Mike replies wryly.
For a show that can be so loud and crass, Andrea’s moment with Mr. Castellotti is surprisingly… gentle? Imagine a world in which you brace for humiliation, even condemnation, and instead find mercy and a kindred comedic spirit. Rather than lingering in the cringe comedy territory, I’m Sorry always returns to community, camaraderie, and the promise of funny, blessedly weird connection.
The Many, Many Bits with Mike
To love I’m Sorry is to delight in the Mike-Andrea pairing. Mike is a forbearing soul who is always game for Andrea’s crude jokes and silly voices. While many sitcoms center on the hilarious husband and his long-suffering wife (so much so that it has become a prestige drama punchline), I’m Sorry flips the script by making the woman the performer and the man her biggest fan. Plus, the boyish Tom Everett Scott is a zanier weirdo that you might remember from his That Thing You Do days, but trust that it is all for the good.
“You’re a raccoon,” Andrea reminds Mike. “You look super cute, but inside, you’re garbage.” Of course, that’s why they work. And if there is one takeaway from the show’s depiction of marriage, it’s that you can’t know what goes on between a couple; sometimes it’s even more fun behind closed doors. Even when their rapport is off, they are aces at communicating this to one another. And, of course, their hotness for one another is conveyed primarily through teasing, jokes, and laughter.
In the last episode of Season 2—which turned out to be the show’s finale—Mike reveals the fruition of his own long-running prank. His wife is thrilled, amazed, and exceedingly turned on. “This was six months of fury you gave me,” she sweetly intones, without a modicum of irony. No question: her buttoned-up Jackass of a husband is getting laid tonight.
While explaining same-sex couples to her daughter, Andrea shimmies her shoulders and sings, “Wouldn’t you want to have two mommies, especially if you had two mommies like this mommy? This is when you want three mommies at least. Yeah!” Sure, Andrea Warren can be extra, but the world that Savage has created for her alter-ego to thrive is just right: absurd and sweet, dirty-mouthed but pure of heart. She’s a lot, and yet, we wanted more.
Annie Berke is the Film editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books and a freelance writer with credits in The Washington Post, Literary Hub, and Ms.. Her book, Their Own Best Creations: Women Writers in Postwar Television, came out in January 2022 from the University of California Press. Follow her at @sayanniething.
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