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‘Schmigadoon!’ Creator Tells Us the Real-Life Story Behind ‘Doggy Dog World’

Our apologies to Cinco Paul’s wife, Amy

(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Thursday’s episode of Apple TV+ comedy “Schmigadoon!”)

“Schmigadoon!” fans learned it’s a ruff — er, rough, world out there on this week’s episode of the Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key-led musical comedy series, as now-split couple Melissa (Strong) and Josh (Key) have still yet to reunite with each other in the show’s titular town ahead of next Thursday’s Season 1 finale. Their inability to see eye to eye in Episode 5, titled “Tribulation,” was mirrored in a flashback to the earlier days of their relationship, when confusion over the phrase “dog-eat-dog world” sparked a huge fight between the two.

Melissa’s insistence that the term is actually “a doggy dog world” and Josh’s insistence it’s so not is based on real conversation that happened between “Schmigadoon!” co-creator Cinco Paul and his wife, Amy.

When Josh first hears Melissa say it the incorrect way, he goes: “Hold on, hold on. Doggy dog? Oh, Mel, you just put me in a really difficult position because I need you to keep saying doggy dog, but it’s my obligation to tell you that the expression is ‘dog eat dog.'”

But Melissa is certain that “dog-eat-dog” doesn’t make sense because “dogs don’t eat dogs, that never happens.”

OK, so why, Josh asks, does Melissa think “doggy dog” makes sense?

“It means like it’s a rough world. You can be brought down so low, a dog would have you for a pet. You’d be doggy to a dog,” Melissa replied.

And according to Paul, this adorable argument occurred between him and his wife.

“That was my wife. That scene, Allison Silverman wrote the scene, but the scene actually happened between me and my wife, where she said, ‘It’s a doggy dog world.’ And said, ‘Wait, what? Oh, sweetheart, no. I have to inform you.’ Yes, that came from real life,” the “Schmigadoon!” showrunner told TheWrap. “My wife, Amy, does not enjoy the spotlight, so she will not enjoy me revealing this. But there’s quite a bit of — she’s also a doctor — there’s quite a bit of her in this show.”

Paul had plenty of places to throw in sweet and relatable moments like that, as Melissa and Josh’s relationship pre-Schmigadoon is showcased in several flashbacks throughout the first five episodes of the show, which airs its Season 1 finale next week and has not yet been renewed for Season 2.

Because we were going to spend so little time with them before Schmigadoon, and they were going to spend so much time apart while they were in Schmigadoon, that’s how we came up with the idea of the flashbacks,” Paul told TheWrap. “Because I thought, it’s really important that people root for this couple to be together. So we need to see bits of the relationship beforehand that hopefully resonate throughout that episode. In the writers’ roo,m we kind of highlighted, here’s a moment where she wants him to do something and he won’t do it because he’s closed off. And that’s thematically, so much of what the show is about. And then you want to see the first time they say ‘I love you’ to each other. It was kind of finding these pivotal relationship moments that can make us root for them as a couple, but also highlight, here’s the beginning of a problem in their relationship. Josh is closed off and Melissa is kind of controlling and has this idea in her head of what a relationship would be and is really pushing to make that happen.”

The Season 1 finale of “Schmigadoon!” launches next Thursday on Apple TV+.