Actress Betty Gilpin not only embraced the wild tonal shifts of the wholly unique Peacock series “Mrs. Davis,” she says she finds the show’s ability to vacillate between comedy, drama, sci-fi and even absurdity much more true to life than the confines of a single genre box.
“The show cycles through genres every two pages,” Gilpin said in the latest episode of TheWrap’s “How She Did It,” presented by Peacock. “I find that much more true to life than when a show is one tone, one color. Throughout a given day, how many different genres do you cycle through in your life? Things can feel like slapstick farce, and then you get a phone call and you’re in a heightened drama. That’s much more true to life. It’s 10 different worlds and 30 different storylines and 11 different thesis statements braided together.”
Boiling the plot of “Mrs. Davis” — which is nominated for a Primetime Creative Arts Emmy award and picked up Television Critics Association nominations for Individual Achievement in Drama for Gilpin, Outstanding New Program and Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries or Specials — into a simple logline isn’t all that easy, but the show begins as the story of a nun (played by Gilpin) who has a vendetta against an all-powerful A.I. on which the entire world depends. After conversing with the A.I. (called Mrs. Davis), it agrees to shut itself down if Davis can do one thing: Find the Holy Grail.
And that’s just in the first episode.
“I had worked with Damon Lindelof on ‘The Hunt’, drawn to his writing style, strange and original but so specific and felt so real to me even though it was so strange and fantastical,” Gilpin said of her attraction to the project, which was created by Lindelof and Tara Hernandez. “That was the kind of world I wanted to be in for seven months.”
Gilpin said the passion for the show’s unique storytelling seeped into every department.
“It felt really special to be part of a very original thorny, strange, ridiculous, wonderful world that was so specific,” she said. “You could really feel every department wanting to be very much a part of that. It was sort of everyone’s passion project. Everyone really got it.”
As for the looming threat of A.I. in the real world, Gilpin was drawn to the show’s unique take on A.I.
“Part of the thesis statement of the show is that Mrs. Davis is not some HAL super computer, other evil. It’s really just a robot puppy that’s fulfilling our wants and our needs, that we are in charge of and at the wheel of. And whether that’s more comforting or scarier is the question we should be asking ourselves.”
“Mrs. Davis” is streaming on Peacock.