Marina is the wife of Tom (Topher Grace), the oldest sibling and a struggling novelist who’s trying his hand at a book about his family. In the premiere, the couple turns to his younger brother, Connor (Jimmy Tatro), who’s uber-wealthy, for a loan. (Caitlin McGee plays the middle sibling, Sarah.)
Souza talks to TV Insider about what that loan means for the siblings’ dynamics, previews Marina’s return to work, and more.
So tell us how Home Economics came about for you.
Karla Souza: I did not want to sign my life away for another six years but my team kept saying I had to read this pilot and meet with the showrunners and with Topher, so I did. Topher then sent me flowers [with a note] saying, “Please be my wife, love, Topher” — which my husband found, so that was an awkward 10 minutes. I fell in love with the concept of it, the ensemble nature. Something fun and lighthearted, especially after the year we’ve all had, is definitely something that I’m happy to put out there in the world.
How would you describe Tom and Marina’s marriage? It looks stable.
[Laughs] It’s as stable as it can be with twins and a 7-year-old — way too many kids and some debt.
You could sum Marina up by saying she wishes she could have a glass of wine for every diaper she changes. When she says that she’s taking a long shower, she’s actually just taking a nap on the bathmat. She’s exhausted. She used to be a lawyer but is now a new stay-at-home mom, who’s still doing the pumping and all that stuff. She doesn’t have qualms about talking [about things like] money, so she doesn’t understand why Tom doesn’t just ask for the loan because her brother-in-law is a millionaire. There’s a lot of ego for him and sibling competition and rivalry that plays into that.
Marina is very blunt and just speaks her mind. Sometimes the grandparents, as you’ve seen in Episode 1, tend to say uncomfortable things, like Spanish words, when they see me, which they think is endearing, but can be a bit uncomfortable or offensive. That happens in my real life, too, with my in-laws.
Money divides them, love keeps them together. But it goes without saying that both Tom and Marina are exhausted and can do with some help.
Is there anything that you and Topher wanted to specifically get across in that relationship?
We had children at the same time during the pandemic, and we have a girl and a boy the same age. We wanted to put out there what we had going on in our personal lives. I had to go out and pump every two hours while we were filming. And I was exhausted. I’d ask Topher, “What time did you wake up last night?” All that stuff was showcased. We wanted it to be as truthful and relatable as possible, but to use all of the drama of early parenthood through comedy to have people laugh and feel some catharsis.
How does getting that loan from Connor affect their lives going forward?
You’ll see in Episode 2 how even going out to restaurants or any mention of money whatsoever has that lingering over your head. [There’s always this] understanding that you now owe that person in more ways than just financially. You’re going to see a little bit of that cloud on top of both Marina and Tom in the next episodes. Sometimes Connor can use his money to keep his family close, which is endearing.
How much will Marina’s career come into play?
We definitely get to see Marina go back to work. There’s an episode where she is undervalued, where no one thinks what she does at home as a mom is worthy of being called a job. She feels the need to remind herself that she is valued. She goes back to work only to realize that maybe it’s not exactly what she wants to be doing because she was a corporate lawyer and there’s a lot of office politics and things that go into that. But there is the need for her to have something of her own again. So I’m glad that the season arc will include that.
We’re going to get a lot of fun scenes with Marina and Denise [Sarah’s wife, played by Sasheer Zamata], right?
Yes, there’s actually a lot more written for us. That outsider perspective is very fun. Sasheer and I also have great chemistry and they definitely wrote to that. It’s a pair developed throughout the season. We have a name for our club, which you’ll see soon.
Is Marina the darkest character? She was listening to a true-crime podcast and suggested Connor might have murdered his ex.
[Laughs] Yes. She definitely is obsessed with her true crime. I agree she’s dark. We even had notes for Marina from the network, “Is she maybe being a little too negative or is she drinking too much wine?” We all thought and said, “No, I’m a mom and I love my kids, but I want to escape them, as much as she does, don’t worry.” Her dry, sarcastic tone will definitely grow as the season progresses.
In the first episode, we didn’t have what she was listening to on her earbuds, but I proposed she be listening to a crime podcast and the director loved that. That had a lot to do with the last scene where she says Connor killed Emily. It’s a nice through-line there.
That treadmill scene seems to show everything about Marina: the wine, the dark part of her character with the line about Emily…
I asked wardrobe to have a Mexican knit shirt [in the premiere]. I wanted there to be real visibility to where she comes from and her roots. And so we got to have cool stuff from Latin-owned businesses and a lot of jewelry and things like that for the show.
How much will we be hearing about and seeing Marina’s family?
This season, we won’t at all. Topher says that he would like to have Wilmer Valderrama [who was on That ’70s Show with him] come and do something. If we do have another season, meeting Marina’s family will definitely happen.
Home Economics, Wednesdays, 8:30/7:30c, ABC