One reason Amy Huberman enjoys playing the titular character of “Finding Joy” is that she’s the “antithesis of me.” PHOTO COURTESY OF ACORN TV
By Karen Butler
“Finding Joy” creator and star Amy Huberman says she hopes the six new episodes of her Irish dramedy offer a bit of escapism to those stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s just nice to laugh at things and kind of forget the world for half an hour,” Huberman told the Irish Echo in a recent phone interview.
“At different stages, I craved different things,” she said about her own viewing habits in recent months. “I was watching crime dramas during the summer and once I was done with it I was kind of done. I was like: ‘Right, I need light release now.’ I watched ‘Tiger King’ with everyone else early on.”
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Huberman said she sought out programs and films that not only entertained her, but also made her feel connected to other people.
She thinks it would be wonderful if “Finding Joy” does that for others.
“We’re all together for grim reasons at the moment, but sharing the sense of fun is really lovely to offer, as well as escapism with so many people at home watching their TVs at the moment,” she said.
“Finding Joy” follows the titular Dublin heroine as she tries to reinvent herself as a social media star after previous career and romantic disappointments.
While she may not have all of the mysteries of the universe unraveled yet, Joy continues to try new experiences and is learning to be more honest with herself.
Co-starring Paul Reid, Ruth Kearney, Kerry Howard and Hannah James-Scott, Season 2 is now streaming in the United States on Acorn TV.
“When we see her at the beginning of Series 1, she feels like she has already figured it all out and we’re like: ‘Slow down, Joy. No, you haven’t. This is going to go wrong,’” Huberman explained.
“Series 2, she dives in the deep end, but a lot of it is for show,” the writer-actress said of her character. “A lot of it is because she thinks other people want to see her do that or everybody else is doing that. She’s on a different type of journey — just paring back the noise and paring back the showmanship and paring back all of those things that we are preparing ourselves for, whatever we do for a living, what we put out to the world and what we save for ourselves.”
The audience is along for the ride as Joy realizes life as an online influencer isn’t as easy as she once assumed.
“She has this balancing act. She has this lifestyle. She’s kind of looking outward and [wondering,] ‘How is everyone judging me in comparison to someone else?’” Huberman said, noting the show explores, “What is your game face and what is your true emotional head space?”
Setting up Joy’s world in Season 1 was a big challenge, but now Huberman can focus on developing the people who live in it with even more heart and humor.
“With Series 1, you are always trying to figure out the landscape and the characters,” Huberman said.
Season 2 finds Joy revisiting her past and documenting it for her show within the show. The new episodes include several hilarious flashback scenes of her cringe-worthy adolescence, complete with the outrageous 1990s clothes and hair.
“With Series 2, it was such a journey that Joy went on,” Huberman said. “I loved all the nostalgia with Maeve, looking back retrospectively to Irish childhoods, as well. We just had so much fun. I really enjoyed it. I probably allowed myself to enjoy it a little bit more because it was never going to be as scary doing it for the second time.”
She went on to say she relishes “the comedy of awkwardness,” just not in real life.
“One of the reasons I love playing Joy is because she is the antithesis of me,” she said. “If there is an awkward silence in a conversation, I will fill it, whereas Joy will let it hang in the air.”
Season 2 sees Joy return to Bray, the County Wicklow seaside town where she holidayed with her family in a caravan when she was a girl. Huberman’s former “Your Bad Self” co-star Justine Mitchell plays her long-forgotten cousin Maeve.
“Justine is such a versatile actor. She is just amazing,” Huberman said of Mitchell, who currently is also part of the cast of the drama film, “The Mauritanian.”
An episode where Joy and Maeve take a shopping and clubbing excursion to Holyhead, Wales was particularly memorable.
“She’s just got such good funny bones,” Huberman said of Mitchell. “Our Holyhead episode was mostly a two-hander with us and it is so lovely to be in scenes with somebody who has a totally different energy, but you can be the foil for each other. She is such a pro. I just loved spending time with her, as well.”
Huberman, who is married to former Ireland rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll and recently gave birth to their third child, hasn’t begun plotting out a third season of “Finding Joy” because she was waiting to see how Season 2 is received.
“If all things go well and we get a third series, I’d love to start writing soon,” she said. “Sometimes you need a break from it and other times it’s nice to just act in someone else’s show and not do the writing.”