Jenna Elfman Talks about Accidentally on Purpose: A New Sitcom on CBS

Jenna Elfman starred in the popular sitcom Dharma and Greg from 1997 to 2002. She has numerous roles on television shows throughout the years. Her latest is the new sitcom Accidentally on Purpose.

Elfman plays a business woman who broke up with her boss/boyfriend and had a fling with a younger man who lives a different kind of life than she does. But she wants him involved with the baby so she invites him to move in with her and share the experience.

At the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour, Elfman talked about her career and the new show.

“[It’s] a true story. The book [on which the show is based] is called ‘Accidentally on Purpose’ written by Mary Pols, and it’s about her life. This [show] is based on a true story.”

Through the years Elfman has tried numerous other pilots for sitcoms. She kept going, looking for something that was new and fresh.

Jenna Elfman’s Search For a New Sitcom

“Because I love comedy so much I was bound and determined to find another great show. I first just want to say how unbelievably grateful I am to be here today because this project is so awesome, and Claudia [Lonow, Executive Producer/Showrunner] is so talented. This cast is fantastic. The writers are brilliant, and I feel like I won the lottery, and I count my blessings every day because it’s been quite a challenging last four or five years of my life. I have been doing nothing but trying to find another show to do on television that makes me happy, that inspires me that I feel like I’m in a comedy sandbox doing what I love to do, and I have that with this. So I am honestly so grateful.”

Elfman’s exuberance overflowed as she talked about her search for another good sitcom. “But it’s been sort of from one development deal [after] another and certain attempts and misses here and there, but just nonstop nose to the grindstone. Boy, it was a real test of my endurance [and] mentality because it was very challenging. Many times I would go in my backyard, and I would call my agent and [say], ‘I think I’m just going to move to Montana and quit. I swear. I can’t take it.’ I get really frustrated. But that kind of just goes to show you how hard it is to find great comedies right now. I don’t know why. Obviously, if I knew the formula, I would have done it several years ago.”

She tried to develop her own shows but nothing worked out. In Hollywood that is often the case. She kept at it and gave it her best shot. “Finally,” she said, “I just went ‘enough of the development. That’s not getting me anywhere. I’m going to be a free agent, and I’m just going to read material that a writer has written on their own out of their own inspiration and see if I can find myself a role in something that’s just done.’ And, like, a week later, I read the script, and it was [incredible].”

Is Comedy Coming Back to TV?

Jenna is a comic actress at heart. When asked if she thought there is a resurgence of sitcoms now, she quickly replied, “I would hope so. I think this world needs comedy. I think there are many people who wish they had the answer to that question because then there would be a lot more great comedies on the air. But specifically to this project, what excited me was I thought this character was so refreshing. I loved her wit, which really comes from Claudia. And Mary Pols, who wrote the book, is very witty as well. And I think Claudia and [Mary’s] wit are different, but they are harmonious. And the subject matter I thought was timely, and it was actually funny. And that really seems to be a challenging thing to find, to have good storytelling that’s actually funny with interesting characters and then to have the casting all happen the way it does, oh, my God, it’s great.”

She loves doing comedy, but Jenna Elfman he has done some drama and television movies. “I think drama is fun because you can just completely morph into this other character. It’s actually, I think, really much easier than comedy because you don’t have to worry about the belief. You know, like making it believable and funny. You just have to pull it off. And in comedy you have to have the belief, and you’ve got to make people laugh. And so I just find it a nice kind of exit into other characters, and it’s kind of like a different universe for me in terms of my experience.”

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