Yeah, it's awful that Ethan (Keegan-Michael Key) and Sam (Annie Parisse) are having an affair, but I also found an element of their relationship to be heartbreaking. They married the wrong people, and they'll probably never be together.
Delbanco: There's something a little bit to the idea that people don't want to acknowledge that we all have these sides of ourselves. Maybe not. Maybe [Nick and I are] the only ones who do and we're completely out of step...
Stoller: They just really question what comedy on TV is supposed to be! [Laughs.] People have no issue with one of my favorite shows ever, Mad Men -- in the pilot, [Don Draper] has a double life, essentially. I think in drama there's more acceptance. Maybe people want the more idealized version of their lives in comedy? I have no idea.
Delbanco: Or something that is just lighter. I totally respect that. There are times when I'm exhausted, and things are not going my way, and I feel sick, and I want to turn on the TV, and have the warm blanket of How I Met Your Mother or something. I think there is a role for that kind of TV, but we were interested in trying something different, and it doesn't fit neatly into the sitcom box.
Did you pursue that different direction because you feel like it's missing from the TV landscape?
Delbanco: We wanted to do something that we, and our friends, wanted to see, if that makes sense? When we showed Netflix the script, with the first scene that's an extramarital affair, and nobody is being sent to hell for it, they were like, That's great! So we thought, Wow, this is an amazing opportunity. We shouldn't squander it.
Stoller: And honestly, before all the reviews came out, we were like, [The affair's] a sexy hook! In addition to it being sad and thought-provoking, we were trying to make an entertaining four hours. Not just a bummer. That's done so much in dramas, so we were like, Why can't we tell a more complex story about friends in the half-hour sphere? You're allowed to do that in comedy movies. We always expected some sort of division, because people want different things out of what they're going to watch. And when you see this cast, you assume it's going to be one thing and it's slightly different. But the reaction certainly was a bit of a surprise.
Delbanco: It also does feel, to us, like this show is still finding its audience.