Being a first-timer at anything can be overwhelming. You’re so concerned about fitting in and doing things right that all your personality drains out of you, leaving nothing but a wannabe perfectionist who reads like a nervous mess. Despite introducing herself as a walking mess in the video below, it sure looks like Abby McEnany left all of those overwhelming vibes outside her first full-time job as the lead actor, writer, and creator on a comedy series.
In the video below, McEnany — a veteran of the Chicago improv scene — takes you on a mini tour of her set, explaining how the show came to be, what motivated it, and sharing behind-the-scenes footage of what looks like a very good time filming it all. Her energy is quickly infectious, and having seen and loved the pilot at Sundance, that same charisma is about to sweep through television as “Work in Progress” rolls out.
The series features McEnany as a 45-year-old self-identified fat, queer dyke from Chicago whose misfortune and despair unexpectedly lead her to a vibrantly transformative relationship. Chicago-based performer Karin Anglin co-stars alongside Celeste Pechous, with Julia Sweeney “Saturday Night Live,” “Shrill” appearing in a crucial role as herself. Theo Germaine, who IndieWire cited as another 2019 breakout talent in Netflix’s “The Politician,” will also appear as a special guest star.
“Work in Progress” is executive produced by McEnany, fellow co-creator Tim Mason, and co-writer Lilly Wachowski. All three serve as co-showrunners on Season 1, while Mason is directing these initial episodes and Circle of Confusion colleagues Lawrence Mattis, Ashley Berns, and Josh Adler are all onboard as executive producers, as well.
While Lana Wachowski is currently going solo as the director of the upcoming The Matrix 4, Lilly Wachowski is turning back to TV as the co-writer of Work in Progress, a Showtime comedy created by and starring Chicago improv mainstay Abby McEnany. Described as a “comedy about being out and down,” Work in Progress is a quirky LGBTQ comedy series coming to Showtime this December. Watch the Work in Progress trailer below.
Work in Progress Trailer
Based on McEnany’s solo show, which was originally produced in 2016 at the iO Theater in Chicago, Work in Progress follows a depressed “self-identified fat, queer dyke” who stumbles through a series of misfortunes before a new relationship unexpectedly turns her life around. But those misfortunes sure are bad: they involve her therapist dying in the middle of a session, meeting SNL alum Julia Sweeney whose “It’s Pat” character ruined her life, and screaming “My life is harder than anybody else’s!” in the presence of a disabled child. While wrestling with her anxieties and trying to “figure out how to be better,” Abby strikes up a relationship with Chris, a handsome trans man who is surprisingly understanding of her troubles.
Work in Progress seems like a fun, smart LGBTQ-centric show that could go on to be a huge success. After all, we saw how turning a one-woman show into an acclaimed TV series can go really well.
Created by McEnany and Tim Mason and co-written by Lilly Wachowski in Wachowski’s first project post- Sense 8, the series also stars Karin Anglin and Celeste Pechous.
Here is the synopsis for Work in Progress:
Abby is a 45-year-old self-identified fat, queer dyke whose misfortune and despair unexpectedly lead her to a vibrantly transformative relationship. Chicago improv mainstay Abby McEnany co-created and stars in this uniquely human comedy series.
Work in Progress premieres on Showtime Sunday, December 8, 2019 at 11/10c.
wtime's upcoming series “Work in Progress” is billed as “a comedy about being out and down.” Described as “a funny and uniquely human comedy,” improv comedian Abby McEnany stars as Abby, “a 45-year-old self-identified fat, queer dyke from Chicago whose misfortune and despair unexpectedly lead her to a vibrantly transformative relationship.” The series is based on McEnany's solo show, which was originally produced in 2016 at the iO Theater in Chicago.
In the official trailer for “Work in Progress” — which you can watch below — Abby is met with a series of unfortunate events. She blames herself for her therapist dying during a session, she doesn't have a child and especially not, thankfully, a child that died, she's riddled with anxieties she can't explain and has difficulties in fixing, and she finally comes face-to-face with Julia Sweeney, the woman whose character Pat of “Saturday Night Live's” “It's Pat” fame ruined her life.
“Work in Progress”
In all of this, Abby just wants to “figure out how to be better.” And it looks like her blossoming, aforementioned “vibrantly transformative relationship” with Chris, a trans man who asks her out, just might help on that front.
In IndieWire’s 2019 Fall TV Preview, Libby Hill wrote that “McEnany is a full-fledged diamond ready to shine and does so brilliantly in her Showtime series, which debuted to critical acclaim at Sundance. In the pilot, the autobiographical show follows the improv comedian as she ventures through her world, attempting to find meaning when all she really wants to do is die. In the process, she makes something vibrant and alive, hilarious and a full of hope. Mission accomplished.”
Created by McEnany and Tim Mason and co-written by Lilly Wachowski “The Matrix,” “Sense8”, “Work in Progress” is Wachowski’s first project post-“Sense8.” The series also stars Karin Anglin and Celeste Pechous and premieres on Showtime on Sunday, December 8, 11 p.m. ET/PT.
Chicago improv veteran and story teller Abby McEnany is living a Cinderella story: The $30,000 pilot she created with Tim Mason and stars in, A Work In Progress, went to Sundance and is now a Showtime series set to premiere in December. Not bad for a self-identified middle-aged, fat, queer dyke who has suffered from OCD and clinical depression.
McEnany said Season 1 will continue the story of her character’s budding romance with Chris, a millennial transman portrayed by Theo Germaine.
McEnany appeared a show panel at Showtime's TCA day Friday with Mason and Lilly Wachowski The Matrix franchise and Sense8 co-creator who was brought on as executive producer and co-writer when the project was tapped for a series. The fast-talking McEnany said of the surprise success: “It's bonkers!”
Hollywood is so new to McEnany and Mason that Mason cheerfully told assembled TV journalists: “It was written by two people who had no idea what they were going to do with it. We don't even know who you people are.”
McEnany said she's still nowhere close to being comfortable with life as a gender-noncomforming individual — in fact, she recounted a story of getting a confused look from a woman in the ladies' room at TCA headquarters, the Beverly Hilton.
“To be 51 and scared of using a public bathroom, confronted, stared at, it like permeates my life,” she said. “It's rough. It's a bummer.”
Still, McEnany wanted to reassure the crowd that she's made peace with one media image that has tortured her for years: Julia Sweeney's gender-indeterminate Pat character from SNL. In fact, Sweeney appears in Work in Progress and the two have become fast friends.
“I never disliked her,” McEnany said. “I've been called Pat a lot, and in this storytelling show, one of the stories is that Julia Sweeney ruined my life... I'm enamored and in awe of her, but yeah, Pat was really rough. I met her, she's lovely and we talked a lot about Pat. I love her so much.”
howtime has handed a series order to Work in Progress, an eight episode comedy series starring Abby McEnany, who co-created the show with pilot director Tim Mason. Lilly Wachowski will co-write and executive produce the first season.
Expected to premiere this year, Work in Progress follows a 45-year-old self-identified, fat, queer dyke from Chicago McEnany whose misfortune and despair unexpectedly lead her to a vibrantly transformative relationship. Theo Germaine and Karin Anglin co-star alongside Celeste Pechous, with Saturday Night Live alum Julia Sweeney appearing as herself.
Wachowski Courtesy of Christa Holka howtime acquired the project after its Sundance premiere in the Indie Episodic program this year. It will join the premium cable net’s comedy series Kidding and Black Monday, both of which have been renewed for second seasons.
“We adored the pilot of Work in Progress at Sundance and were so thrilled that Abby and Tim and Lilly wanted to work with us to expand it into a Showtime comedy series,” said Gary Levine, who made the announcement along with Jana Winograde, his fellow President of Entertainment at Showtime Networks. “Abby is as distinctive as she is appealing. She will make you laugh, she might make you cry, but she will definitely make you fall in love with her.”
McEnany is a mainstay of the Chicago improv scene, where her one-woman shows became the foundation for the series. She and Mason also executive produce Work in Progress alongside Wachowski; Lawrence Mattis, Ashley Berns and Josh Adler of Circle of Confusion; and Tony Hernandez of Jax Media.
The Matrix‘s Wachowski most recently wrote, produced and directed Netflix’s Sense8 and the feature Jupiter Ascending.