Jaime Pressly is happy to hit rock bottom for ‘Jennifer Falls’

Posted Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Jennifer Falls

• 9:30 p.m. Wednesday

• TV Land

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For Jaime Pressly, it all started with a new hairstyle.

The star of the new TV Land comedy Jennifer Falls, which premieres at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, was looking to make a change. So she told her stylist to chop away at her shoulder-length blond locks.

“I was so used to having long hair,” Pressly says. “I got to the point where I felt I had been hiding behind it. I wanted to shed the old and start the new.”

The actress went super short with a half-shaved/undercut look that gives her an entirely different vibe. “It was liberating,” she says.

Three weeks later, Pressly found herself being courted by TV Land executives to star in their new comedy series.

Coincidental timing or fate?

Pressly isn’t questioning it. She’s too busy rejoicing that she gets to play this terrific new character, which is dramatically different from the hick goddess she portrayed for four seasons of My Name Is Earl (2005-09).

On the new show, she is Jennifer Doyle, a Type A-personality career woman who loses her job as vice president of a Fortune 500 company, then hits every bump on the way to rock bottom. All she has left is “mountains of debt,” so she and her teenage daughter must start again.

The character moves back in with her exasperating mom (Jessica Walter), dons a skimpy sports-bar waitress uniform for the only job that’s readily available and tries to take solace in the knowledge that there’s nowhere else to go now but up.

“I love that Jennifer is real and that she’s going through something a lot of people have had to go through because of the economy,” Pressly says. “It’s very relevant to now and what’s going on in the world.”

She adds: “ My Name Is Earl was one of the great experiences of my life, but the characters on that show were more like cartoons than real people. This is more true to life, and the characters, while still funny and sometimes outlandish, are much more grounded in reality.”

Pressly explains that Jennifer’s saving grace is that she’s able to stay positive. No matter how humbling the experience is, you can sense that she’s going to get through it and wind up being a better, stronger person.

Jennifer Falls stands out from the other sitcom originals on TV Land because it looks and feels quite different. It’s a one-camera comedy with feature-film production values, as opposed to the multicamera/studio-audience/laugh-track shows like Hot in Cleveland that the network has favored until now.

Initially, it was going to be a multicamera show, too, until someone decided the material was better suited for the format used on shows like Modern Family and The Office.

“The great thing about the people running this network is they’re willing to try new things,” Pressly says. “I’m honored that they allowed me to be the first one to do a single-camera comedy for them.”

To Pressly’s way of thinking, this character came along at the perfect time, because, in many ways, she says it fits where she is in life today.

“It’s like art imitating life for me. Not completely, but a lot of the parts are,” she says. “That’s true mostly because I can relate to the being a single mom.”

Pressly’s son turned 7 in May and, like Jennifer, who has a teenage daughter, she’s constantly dealing with the issues of balancing the demands of work and motherhood.

“There are points in my life when I come home so tired and I feel like I failed because I didn’t get to do everything that I wanted to do on my mom list that day,” she says. “Then I realize that all my son really needs is for me to hug him and love him and let him know I’m there if he ever needs me. So we sit in bed and we’ll read a book or we’ll watch his favorite TV show, America’s Funniest Home Videos. And every night, I tell him, ‘You’re my favorite,’ and he’ll look up at me and say, ‘You’re my favorite too, Mom.’ That moment supersedes anything else that I could have done that day.”

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