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Jason Biggs on How He Plays Dumb for Fox’s ‘Outmatched’ Without Looking ‘Too Dumb’

”American Pie“ alum also tells TheWrap why he’s outgrown ”shock value“ and ”sophomoric“ humor

Jason Biggs has done a few dumb things on-screen — OK, more than a *few* — and that dumb behavior will continue when his new Fox sitcom, “Outmatched,” premieres tonight. But the kind of dumb the “American Pie” alum is playing on this multi-camera family comedy is relative — literally — as he’s raising certified geniuses.

And Biggs tells TheWrap it was important for him and his co-star Maggie Lawson, who portray a blue-collar couple in Atlantic City trying to raise four kids — three of whom are the serious smarties — to strike a balance between playing the clueless parents without looking like complete idiots.

“I think part of the goal was to not fall into any cliches about the ‘dumb parent,’ or any sort of ‘dumb’ character, if you will,” Biggs said. “The truth is, we’ve got these three characters who are so incredibly smart that simply by contrast we’re gonna be many steps behind. But we don’t want to play them as being too dumb, because what I think the show is trying to represent is just the idea that parents anywhere, regardless of how smart their kids are, are struggling with parenting and struggling to talk to their kids and they’re constantly feeling outnumbered and out-manipulated.”

“Outmatched” stars Lawson as Kay, “a caustic, take-no-prisoners casino pit boss,” and Biggs as her husband Mike, “a handyman and uncultivated guy’s guy,” per Fox. The show’s logline describes them as “two working stiffs who barely got through high school” who are “committed to bringing some normalcy to their kids’ hectic, unconventional childhoods, but these geniuses don’t make it easy.”

Biggs says he knows the struggle is real, being a parent himself — though admittedly not to “geniuses.”

“Look, I’ve got two kids, they’re smart but I’m not getting them tested for MENSA any time soon,” he said. “But I’m still constantly feeling like I’m in over my head. So it’s just sort of that idea that we’ve got these regular parents that hopefully people can relate to in a very real way and then you’ve got these kids who are just off the charts. I think it’s important for the show to not fall into any of those ‘stupid character’ cliches.”

As for moving into family comedy from his roots in, well, less-than-wholesome humor, Biggs says this was a natural progression for him, being a family man.

“For me, I feel like it’s been a very organic transition simply because I am a dad now,” the “Orange Is the New Black” alum said. “I feel like that, to me, is a big thing. So, this idea of playing these ‘American Pie’-type roles that are way more outlandish, way more shock value humor and sophomoric humor — I’ve just kind of grown out of it. I mean, I still appreciate that kind of humor, but for me it’s a much more organic fit now to be the dad that’s making dad jokes, because that’s really what I’m doing in real life.”

“Outmatched” premieres tonight, Thursday, at 8:30/7:30c on Fox.