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Paramount Net AMERICAN WOMAN: Q&A w Kyle Richards, Alicia Silverstone, Jennifer Bartels, Mena Suvari

Maj Canton - June 7, 2018







On Thursday, June 7, 2018 at 10pm Paramount Network premieres AMERICAN WOMAN, a new 11-episode half-hour scripted dramedy set amid the sexual revolution and rise of feminism in the 1970s. Inspired by the real-life upbringing of Kyle Richards (THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS), the series follows Bonnie (Alicia Silverstone), an unconventional mother struggling to raise her two daughters after leaving her husband amid the rise of second-wave feminism in 1970s Los Angeles. Bonnie also comes to rely on the help of her two best friends, Kathleen (Mena Suvari) and Diana (Jennifer Bartels), as they each discover their own brand of independence in a glamorous and ever-changing world reluctant to give it. The series also stars Cheyenne Jackson, James Tupper, Makenna James and Lia McHugh.






This past January at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press Tour, Paramount Network presented a panel that included cast members Alicia Silverstone, Mena Suvari, Jennifer Bartels and series Executive Producer Kyle Richards. Here are a few highlights (edited for clarity and readability) from that panel.


From left to right, actresses Alicia Silverstone, Mena Suvari, & Jennifer Bartels and Executive Producer Kyle Richards

at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press Tour in January 2018.


(L-R) Mena Suvari as Kathleen, Alicia Silverstone as Bonnie, and Jennifer Bartels as Diana.

Question: What do you think truly defines an American woman?

Alicia Silverstone: Being an American woman, there are many things that inspire me about this show, but one of them is this idea that we all have things we get stuck in our lives -- whether it's in a relationship or a job or whatever it may be. And I really think having the bravery to say, "I'm not going to do this anymore," not knowing if you're going to crash and burn or find your dream, it's really an amazing thing for any human being to go through. We are either in the stuck place or coming out of the stuck place. I think this story covers all three women in that stuck place and then the coming out, and I think it's very interesting and relatable.

Jennifer Bartels: It's knowing your truth and following your truth and that feeling you have in your gut, finding your footing and sticking with it no matter what's thrown at you.

(L-R) Makenna James as Becca, Alicia Silverstone as Bonnie, and Lia McHugh as Jessica.

Question: Ms. Richards, how much is the show inspired by your life? [The character of Jessica was inspired by a young Kyle Richards.]

Kyle Richards: You'll see a lot of what my upbringing was like. My mom was really a woman before her time. It the '70s, it wasn't popular to be a strong woman. And my mom was a single mom raising three daughters in a man's world. My mom was a very strong woman and an amazing mother because she loved her kids so much. But she was very flawed. So you will see a lot of that.

Alicia Silverstone: One of my favorite things about Bonnie is how outrageous she can be. She is so passionate but sometimes makes some very strange choices. There's a part where Bonnie is being followed by men in a car and she's with her children and she's getting very scared. As a mother, I'm watching this like, "Don't get out of the car!" And she gets out of the car and it's not the wisest move. But she's got a point to prove and she's so determined.

Question:What was the most difficult situation from your life to revisit?

Kyle Richards: Some of it is very emotional to me because I don't have my mom anymore. I look back and appreciate what she went through. I could see the stress on her as a child. I couldn't really appreciate that until I was an adult and a mother myself. The car scene actually happened, my mom actually got out of the car. She was raising three women and she wanted us to be strong and confident. So she thought, I've got to make my girls tough and strong. Meanwhile, as a little girl, I'm thinking, "Why does my mom do these stupid things and stress me out?" But I respect her for it.

Question: Kyle, does your sister Kim appear on the series?

Kyle Richards: No, she does not. There was some talk about maybe Kim or maybe I would do a cameo thing, but we really did not want to take anybody out of the moment. I felt that it would be a distraction.

Jennifer Bartels as Diana.

Question: Are there things from the culture of women in the '70s that have lingered? Things that have changed?

Jennifer Bartels: As the working friend [of Bonnie], trying to find her voice within this corporate man's world, there were things that seem like it's still going on, like "that's happened to me," you know? Sexual harassment in the workplace is still prevalent today. This is something you get to see; a really clean snapshot of what women were dealing with in the workplace, how they were looked down upon or treated differently. I think we've come a long way in a lot of regard to the things we talk about in the show but we're leaps and bounds away from where we need to be. I think being a strong, sexually confident, physically confident, assertive woman is something to be applauded and empowered and should inspire others.

Question: What's it like living in the '70s?

Mena Suvari: I actually loved this decade and it was an absolute blast working with everyone. I love that whole time period; I was born in '79. I got a tiny taste of it but not really. I would have loved to live in that decade. But it was also a whole new revelation for me. I thought a lot about my mother and what she had gone through. And even in relation to my life, I've been pretty much working my whole life and I couldn't even imagine not having a bank account or having to deal with a lot of the things these women go through. It was such a beautiful experience but really eye-opening at the same time.

Jennifer Bartels as Diana (top left), Mena Suvari as Kathleen (lower left), and Alicia Silverstone as Bonnie (lower right).

Question: Kyle, between REAL HOUSEWIVES [Kyle stars on THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS] and AMERICAN WOMAN, do one of these depictions of American womanhood in L.A. seem more true to you, more empowering?

Kyle Richards: Like Jennifer said, so much has changed but nothing has really changed at all. An American woman is a woman who can do it all: be a mom, be a great wife, run a business. And I think that that's what these women were trying to do. They were trying to find their way to be able to do that. So I really think both are very relatable, honestly.

Alicia Silverstone as Bonnie Nolan.

Question: Who are some of your American women heroes that aren't celebrities?

Alicia Silverstone: [My character] Bonnie is my American woman hero because we had women like Gloria Steinem but Bonnie doesn't know about that yet. At the top of the show, her job is to be the trophy wife and she's agreed to that job. And she accepts it and loves it but there's a little voice in the back of her head that comes up when she can't buy a watch for him because she's a woman and doesn't have a bank account. And when her world gets turned upside down, like someone came and smacked her with a baseball bat and she has to climb back up – to me, that's the exciting, brave women of the world. Women are fighting for women's rights now and they were fighting for them years and years ago. This is a long journey and I think the bravery of being able to stand up and say, "Actually, this isn't working for me," when the "correct" thing to do is to ignore it and step in line is really incredible.


BONNIE NOLAN (Played by Alicia Silverstone)

Gorgeous, witty, and always put together, Bonnie radiates movie star charm and indeed once pursued a career as an actress in New York until she became pregnant, married, and moved to Los Angeles. When her husband Steve struck gold in real estate, Bonnie found herself enjoying the Beverly Hills high life, but with the painful awareness of the compromises she made in her marriage. Tough, capable, and sometimes vulnerable, Bonnie has become accustomed to deferring to her husband in all things, yet she still tries to be a strong role model to her two young daughters. After she learns about Steve's affair and shady business dealings, Bonnie decides that she's had enough and orders Steve out of the house. Now, as she's trying to reconstruct her life, she may have even more obstacles in store.

KATHLEEN (Played by Mena Suvari)

Sunny and gorgeous, Kathleen is an aging Farrah Fawcett complete with a Dallas drawl that speaks of big oil and old money. Her father has bankrolled her life and always supported her financially, and it's with his money that she and her new boyfriend Greg are able to open their casting office. She's the only one of her sisters who's not married, so when charming, good-looking casting director Greg enters Kathleen's life, she's determined to keep him by any means necessary. She's concerned to hold onto Greg's interest in her and has been taking diet pills to stay thin. However, the real reason that Kathleen and Greg don't share a brighter "spark" is because Greg is gay.

DIANA (Played by Jennifer Bartels)

A real-life Mary Tyler Moore in Jackie O. sunglasses, Diana is the prototype for the new "working girl" of the mid-70s. Smart and capable, she's a junior loan officer at Figueroa Bank downtown, where she faces the daily challenges of being a woman in a man's world, even though her boss would be lost without her. She has a challenging relationship with her nagging mother Peggy, with whom she moved in to help take care of after her father died.

STEVE NOLAN (Played by James Tupper)

Steve is Bonnie's husband, a handsome, confident, and overbearingly masculine man whose successful real estate career affords him and his family a lavish Beverly Hills lifestyle. When Bonnie catches him cheating, it's a deal-breaker for their marriage, as she realizes that Steve may be an inveterate liar who's been leading a secret life.

GREG (Played by Cheyenne Jackson)

This charismatic, handsome guy is Kathleen's newest boyfriend, a charmer who worked in casting at Paramount. When he persuades Kathleen to invest a bundle in his own casting company, her friends are understandably leery. Greg is conflicted in that he genuinely cares for Kathleen but is sorting through his own emotions about facing his homosexuality.

BECCA NOLAN (Played by Makenna James)

Becca is Bonnie's eldest daughter, a defiant Jane Fonda wannabe in bell-bottoms and a Free Angela Davis t-shirt. Passionate and sharp, she's a burgeoning activist who lashes out when her parents suddenly split.

JESSICA NOLAN (Played by Lia McHugh)

Jessica, whose character is inspired by a young Kyle Richards, is Bonnie's youngest daughter, who projects a wide-eyed innocence that's immediately endearing. She's upset when her parents split and initially blames her mother for the situation. Later, however, she makes it clear to Bonnie that she loves and appreciates her and will support her in their new life.


If you want to know nothing about the episodes at all, skip this section. Provided by Paramount Network, this episode guide includes general episode descriptions and specific plot details.

"Liberation" (Episode 101)
Thursday, June 7, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Bonnie's life is changed forever when she discovers her husband Steve is having an affair. With the help of her best friends Diana and Kathleen, Bonnie figures out how to make it on her own.

"Changes and the New Normal" (Episode 102)
Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Suddenly responsible for her own finances for the first time, Bonnie enlists the help of Diana and Kathleen in her search for stability. Kathleen & Greg start a new business venture and work through personal issues. Diana chases a promotion.

"The Party" (Episode 103)
Thursday, June 21, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Desperate to connect with her role model Lori, Kathleen drags Bonnie and Diana to a party in the hills, but when Diana tries to cut loose, things get out of hand. Meanwhile, Bonnie finds herself in an exciting new position.

"The Cost of Living" (Episode 104)
Thursday, June 28, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Jessica's big break comes as Bonnie struggles with her new routine as a single mother. Diana gets set up on a date. Kathleen & Greg work through their issues.

"Adam" (Episode 105)
Thursday, July 12, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
While her relationship with Adam moves full-speed ahead, Bonnie's connection with her daughters is faltering. Kathleen emphasizes the importance of self-love. Diana and Alan have a big night out.

"The Heat Wave" (Episode 106)
Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Bonnie invites her coworker Louise to join her and her friends at her pool. Diana asks for a promotion at work, while she struggles to get along with her overbearing mother.

"The Agreement" (Episode 107)
Thursday, July 26, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
A mysterious man from Greg's past puts a strain on Kathleen and Greg's relationship. Two visitors disrupt Jessica's birthday party. Diana embraces her sexuality.

"Jack" (Episode 108)
Thursday, August 2, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Kathleen grapples with some new information she's learned about Greg. Bonnie has a health scare. Diana gets some disappointing news at work.

"The Breakthrough" (Episode 109)
Thursday, August 9, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
After attending an EST meeting, Kathleen discovers some answers to the problems in her life. Bonnie chooses a wild adventure with Adam over an important work assignment. Diana makes a new friend.

"Opstacles and Assets" (Episode 110)
Thursday, August 16, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
After a mistake at work, Bonnie deals with the repercussions. Kathleen has a major win at her casting office and feels reinvigorated by her burgeoning career. Diana makes a connection with her boss.

"I Will Survive" (Episode 111)
Thursday, August 23, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Desperate to make her children happy, Bonnie considers giving Steve another chance. Kathleen struggles to make a decision about her future. Diana settles into a new role at work.