Tyler Ritter is tackling the starring role of CBS’s new sitcom “The McCarthys,” about Ronny McCarthy (Ritter), an openly gay man who’s surrounded by a sports-obsessed family and is even recruited by his father to be his assistant high school basketball coach.
The series is based — although loosely — on the life of series creator Brian Gallivan, with Ritter standing in for the “Happy Endings” alum.
TheWrap spoke to Ritter about his role, playing his boss and why Ronny’s sexuality is no big deal on the show.
TheWrap: You’re essentially playing a fictionalized version of series creator Brian Gallivan on the series.
Ritter: Yes, but he really likes to put it out there that the McCarthy family is very loosely based on the Gallivan family. I think he really wants that to be clear, especially to his immediate family, that these aren’t directly taken from the individual members.
Is there added pressure playing your boss and did he give you any tips?
You know, it’s not as much pressure as it is a gift. A lot of times as an actor [you have] to guess what a writer wants if he isn’t around, and you have the director and sometimes those two visions don’t match. But between having Brian Gallivan there and Pamela Fryman, who is as personable about talking things out with her as you could hope for, is just a gift. It makes it easy for me because when he gives me a note I know that he knows this guy, so I don’t have to second guess him.
Your character, Ronny, is openly gay. How much will his sexuality play a part on the show?
It’s not really a huge storyline. The show starts out with him already having come out a few years before, and the family is totally OK and accepting of him. Aside from the fact that he’s in the dating world and meeting new guys, it really isn’t that big of a plot, because these guys could easily be girls. The actual sexuality in and of itself isn’t what makes this show tick. It’s the characters themselves, it’s the conflicts they run into. It’s kind of a side storyline, and we understand that will be a big talking piece, but I think you’re going to just be engaged with the whole family and what they’re going through.
Will his sexuality be played as a source of humor?
Not his sexuality in and of itself. He’ll find himself in situations with his dates, with maybe a boyfriend, but the fact that he’s a guy who’s attracted to another guy … I don’t think we find that funny at all, and so that’s not a source of humor. And the fact that Ronny is based on a real guy is going to keep this character from ever becoming something that isn’t identifiable and grounded. I think it’s his other characteristics — I think it’s his sarcasm or snarkiness. You see Ronny just being so entertained by his other family members’ dysfunction that you get to enjoy him through that. His sexuality kind of becomes something that you’re not even thinking about as you get into the show.
Are there any particular episodes or guests that you’re excited about?
There are a few different guest stars we’ve had. Rick Fox was really cool for me because — unlike Ronny — I’m actually a pretty big Lakers fan, and Fox helped us win a few championships. He was such a great sport — really funny guy, really talented. And then of course having John Ratzenberger, as all his work on “Cheers” is really inspirational for our show, which takes place in Boston and it involves a few brewskies. To get to meet John was really special.