Paramount+’s “Weird and Wonderful” New Show

Paramount+ series “Guilty Party” focuses on a discredited journalist’s (Kate Beckinsdale) desperate attempt to salvage her career by latching on to the story of a young mother who has been sentenced to prison for maiming and murdering her husband. What does the dark dramedy have in common with quirky sitcom “New Girl”?  Series creator and co-EP Rebecca Addelman, no stranger to strong female leads – having worked on “New Girl” and “Dead to Me” – explains.
 
What is the genesis of “Guilty Party”? 
I was inspired by the relationship between Sarah Koenig and Adnan Syed from the “Serial” podcast. They had such a thorny and intimate relationship that really jumped out at me, and it made me curious about the personal, behind-the-scenes dynamics between a storyteller and her subject. We’re trained to assume that journalists and other writers of non-fiction are objective truth-seekers. But as “Guilty Party” was forming, I knew I wanted to hold up, examine, and puncture some of those long-held beliefs. Doesn’t the storyteller’s own background and point of view inherently color the story? And what happens if she, like our lead character Beth, has urgent problems and complications of her own that she brings to her work of telling another person’s story? What if our narrator is unreliable but the story she’s chasing is still worth telling… what then?
 
How did your work on “New Girl” and “Dead to Me” inform this show?
“New Girl” taught me how to find character and humor in storytelling, the fundamentals of the half-hour format; “Dead to Me” taught me how to take those rules and twist them into something new and striking. On “Guilty Party” we approach the half-hour format in our own, unique way, weaving comedy and drama, silliness and pathos, into a new kind of weird and wonderful half-hour show. I’ve also been lucky to work on many shows that have strong, vibrant, compelling female characters which pretty much informs all the work I do. I’m all in on the lady leads!
 
What are the similarities in the seemingly very different female protagonists in the show?
While Beth and Toni may be very different on paper, the two have fundamental wants that bring them together. They are both on a quest for family and for redemption. Toni’s quest is more immediate and palpable: facing a life sentence, she’s doing everything she can to survive and overturn what she claims is a wrongful conviction. All she wants is to get out of that prison and to hold her daughter again. Meanwhile Beth is out there making a mess of her life, trying to redeem her career, until we learn that her needs run deeper: she’s searching for the safety and comfort of being loved, something that was absent from her childhood.
 

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