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Interview with Abbi Jacobson: “For many queer people, the first person they fall in love with changes the course of their lives”

Yyou did that!” Abbi Jacobson exclaims, almost in disbelief, that I’m gone there. “You know me inside and out.” I just reminded her of what she used to describe as her most embarrassing moment on set. It involved nearly 35 failed attempts to throw a bathroom key at a shamefully close target while the family drama was filming in 2018 6 balloons, opposite Dave Franco. What’s most surprising about her giggles is that the actress, comedian, writer, illustrator and producer has been known to sport large dildos on screen in her groundbreaking comedy series broad citywas humiliated by a simple bunch of keys. “Those damn keys, man,” she recalls, laughing. “That was a terrible day.”

As it turns out, Jacobson’s a pretty good shot after all. She recently decided to up the ante by taking on the role of professional baseball player Carson Shaw in her new co-created series A league of its own. She’s aware that director Penny Marshall’s beloved 1992 film “doesn’t need a remake,” but she and her co-creator Will Graham (Mozart in the Jungle) prefer the term “redesign”.

So what does a reinterpretation of this cult classic look like? A broader examination of the players of the WWII-era All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, expanding into racially and sexually diverse territories to which the original only alluded. “We’re really telling the stories that couldn’t be told in a two-hour window in 1992,” Jacobson tells me over a video call from a Los Angeles hotel room.

Jacobson was in her fourth season of broad city — where she played the dubious Abbi Abrams, a heightened version of her own shy self, alongside co-creator and friend Ilana Glazer’s extrovert Ilana Wexler — when Graham offered her the remarkable opportunity. “I had a few other things brewing, but I hadn’t thought of another show to do,” she says. In spite of broad city As a “full, full, full-time job” where she was not only the star but also a writer and director, she couldn’t say no. “We’re talking A league of its own!” she shines. “That was one of my favorite movies growing up.”

Jacobson recognizes the gravity of such an imposing project. I ask her if she’s nervous about possible criticism from fans or cast members of the 30-year-old film. “No, I’m not nervous at all!” She jokes, adding, “Ultimately, I’m really trying to become a person who can let how I feel about the product what other people might think about it.”

Carson can feel miles away from that broad city‘s Abbi Abrams — she’s a 1940s housewife who’s running away from her traditional Idaho life to pursue a dream — while Abrams was a twenty-something New Yorker struggling to make ends meet in an unforgiving city come. On a deeper level, however, they are both women grappling with their identities. “There’s an ‘I’ that connects them,” she laughs. “I tend to reinforce things I’m unsure about in my own life. So [they] both tend to ramble in their insecurities and shyness.”

Even after five extremely successful seasons of broad cityinterspersed with cameos Curb your enthusiasm and portlandia, as well as voice acting in the Netflix animated sitcom disappointment and the Oscar-nominated cartoon The Mitchells against the machines, Jacobson has moments of doubt. “With my work, which often finds me in a small space, how can I participate in the show’s leadership?” But just as Carson finally finds the power of her voice and emerges as an unlikely leader, Jacobson has done the same. “I think I bring a lot of myself into the characters that I write for myself,” she tells me. “It’s a very meta-experience.”

Abbi Jacobson and D’Arcy Carden in A League Of Their Own

(Nicola Goode/Prime video)

Carson is a late bloomer finally exploring her sexuality in her twenties. When she meets her wildly flirtatious and intrepid teammate Greta (The good place‘s D’Arcy Carden), Carson’s cautious facade falls by the wayside when the two embark on a secret love affair. Jacobson and Carden themselves have been best friends in real life for 15 years, meeting at improv and comedy theater Upright Citizen’s Brigade in New York City, which perhaps speaks to their undeniable on-screen chemistry. “I think everyone who spends time with D’Arcy falls in love with her a little bit,” Jacobson enthuses of Carden, who also stars in HBO’s dark comedy Hitman barry.

While Marshall’s film contained overly vague hints of queerness, Jacobson and Carden are more than proud to place this essential story of LGBT+ love at the heart of the new series. “Greta will always be a very important person in Carson’s life,” she explains. “And I think for a lot of queer people, the first person they fall in love with — even having a queer experience with them — changes the course of their lives.”

Jacobson, 38, knows a thing or two about first loves. Shortly after her public release in 2018, the multi-hyphenated wrote her debut novel, I could regret: essays, drawings, vulnerabilities and other thingswho took readers on her vulnerable cross-country ride in the summer of 2017 amid a devastating heartbreak following her first major romance with a woman.

Now she couldn’t be more in love with her fiancee, actress Jodi Balfour (For all mankind). The pair have been relatively low-key on their relationship — sharing only cryptic photos on Instagram until last October, when they celebrated their one-year anniversary with the world. For Jacobson, who is “private in a lot of ways,” the IPO was a “little push-and-pull.” However, she challenged herself by asking, “We are so happy. I would post a photo of me and Desi my dog. Why not just post a photo of us enjoying the day?”

Jacobson admits there’s a much bigger problem at stake as well. “I think representation is a bit on the mind,” she says. “Not to say I’m posting a photo of us to say, ‘We need people who know there are queer people out there.’ I don’t. But I’m kinda! I don’t feel like there are many of us in the industry.”

Representation is a key element of Jacobson’s ideology. As someone who only discovered her sexuality in her thirties, she feels called A league of its own to tell the overlooked stories of the queer women who have preceded her. “You just hope that you can open people’s minds and also make people who don’t feel seen feel seen and empowered.”

“I wish I’d seen that as a kid,” she muses. “Who knows what would have happened?”

A League of Their Own premieres August 12 on Prime Video

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/features/abbi-jacobson-interview-league-of-their-own-broad-city-b2134504.html Interview with Abbi Jacobson: “For many queer people, the first person they fall in love with changes the course of their lives”

JOE HERNANDEZ

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