When Rasha Drachkovitch first approached Mark Wahlberg about making a reality show about his family, Wahlberg asked him: “Are you sure there’s a TV show here?”
Drachkovitch , a veteran reality producer, soon learned there was more than enough. “Wahlburgers,” a new hit for A&E, gives fans a comical look at Mark and Donnie’s burger business with the chef in the family, their brother Paul.
Their mother Alma steals scenes and keeps everyone down to earth. Mark’s childhood friends Henry “Nacho” Laun and Johnny “Drama” Alves, who also helped inspire “Entourage,” provide added comic relief.
But Mark is the surprise of the show. As an executive producer, he lets Drachkovitch show him making demands on Paul – and being shut down by their mom.
“There’s a scene where he wants to open up a restaurant in Dubai and Beijing, and Alma speaks up at dinner and says, ‘I think we should open up the next one in Boston, because this is who we are. This is where we’re from,'” Drachkovitch told TheWrap. “You see Mark become the kid… You see them as real humans.”
Also read: ‘Wahlburgers’ Gets 18 More Episodes From A&E
We talked to Drachkovitch about family dynamics, why Mark isn’t the bad guy, and avoiding stunt casting – unless, of course, the show can book “Ted.“
TheWrap: Were you surprised about who turned out to be good and bad guys, to the extent that the show has good and bad guys?
Drachkovitch: You know, they all definitely have a pecking order, or let’s say a personality. It became less about the stars and more about the family and how they relate to each other. The whole storyline about who is mom’s favorite is, I think, very relatable. You can see Paul’s kind of the blue-collar brother, one burger at a time. Mark’s the dreamer. Donnie’s kind of in the middle, pushing buttons. You just kind of go, I can relate to this. I know people like this.
I went in expecting to like Mark the most, based on his movies. But I felt like he can come off as the bad guy. Poor Paul is working really hard, and then Mark will say, “Hey: You need to open a restaurant in Beijing — soon.”
There’s a lot of sides to Mark. The bottom line is he really says a lot of this because that’s his relationship with his brother. Even growing up, that’s kind of how they handle each other. … They kind of work at different speeds. And it’s great for us. For me as a producer, you have a natural – I wouldn’t call it a conflict. But they’re constantly challenging each other’s approaches to life.
In the end, it always comes down to family, watching each other’s backs – with kind of a group hug at the end. That’s how they function.
Did you give any of the less famous people in your cast, like Nacho and Drama, media training after the “Duck Dynasty” mess?
No. With the Wahlbergs and their friends, there is no media training. They are absolutely 100 percent real. Drama’s got the great story of trying out for his own part and not getting it, which is absolutely fantastic. We love Drama because he just really strives to be a big star. And Mark helps him. He has an amazing heart. He’s so loyal.
You hear about some stars disconnecting from their past because they’re hanging with a different crowd. But Mark hangs with Drama and Nacho. … It kind of goes against everything you think about movie stars. He calls Drama and Nacho and says bring 30 Wahlburgers and come to L.A. and let’s hit golf balls of my roof.
I was surprised when Jenny McCarthy popped up. I didn’t realize she and Donnie were dating.
We start again with these simple themes like bringing someone home to meet mom. In the case of the Wahlbergs, it’s Jenny McCarthy, which puts it in a whole other world. It was the real deal. When she finds out Alma used to call him “Baby Donnie,” that became like the third top-trending word in America.
We’re being careful not to stunt cast. It has to be organic. He’s really dating her and they’re in love. We have Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block doing a jingle for Wahlburgers. We want to make sure we’re staying true to who they would naturally hang out with.
What’s coming up?
The jingle episode’s my favorite because you’ve got Drama doing the jingle, you’ve got Joey doing the jingle, you’ve got Donnie involved, Mark involved. It’s one of the funniest things, trying to rhyme Wahlburger.
“Wahlburgers” airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m./9:30c on A&E.