Life In Pieces' short stories full of family laughs

Betsy Brandt stars in the TV series Life In Pieces.
Betsy Brandt stars in the TV series Life In Pieces. Channel 10

BETSY Brandt doesn't find some of the offbeat stories in her new show that far-fetched.

The actress, best known for her role on the gritty drama Breaking Bad, stars in the family sitcom Life in Pieces opposite Colin Hanks, James Brolin and Dianne Wiest.

The series, which premiered last week after the MasterChef Australia grand final, chronicles the lives of three generations of the Short family as told from the point of view of each character based on their own version of events.

Each episode is told as four short stories, one for each branch of the Short clan, with some connections related to the characters' events.

In this week's episode, her character Heather and her husband Tim (Dan Bakkedahl) move their three children to a new house right across the street from her parents (Brolin and Wiest).

From left, Zoe Lister-Jones, Colin Hanks, Thomas Sadoski, Betsy Brandt and Dan Bakkedahl in a scene from the sitcom Life In Pieces.
From left, Zoe Lister-Jones, Colin Hanks, Thomas Sadoski, Betsy Brandt and Dan Bakkedahl in a scene from the sitcom Life In Pieces. Channel 10

"I grew up next door to my grandmother's house in a very rural part of Michigan," she tells The Guide.

"Even the college visit scene in the pilot (where Heather and Tim take their eldest son to look at universities) we were looking at junior high schools for my oldest kid and I felt like I totally relate to that.

"There are so many things in parenting and married life that are universal."

Life In Pieces has already been renewed by US network CBS after averaging 10 million viewers per episode. The cast will begin filming season two this month.

Brandt says she feels lucky to have landed a role on another hit show.

"I was really spoiled by Breaking Bad to be on a show that was so huge," she says.

"I didn't get it until after that how rare it is to have everything fall into place to have a show really work.

"Especially now there's so much good TV out there. When we were shooting the pilot (episode) the whole (on-screen) family would have lunch together and it was the most fun time.

"I remember thinking 'please God, I hope this goes well because I want to be around these people'."

Brandt recalls being in awe of two-time Oscar winner Wiest, who plays the Short family matriarch.

"I call her Glinda the Good Witch (from the Wizard of Oz); she's magical," she says.

"She's one of the smartest women I've ever met. She's so maternal at work. She's so supportive."


The cast of the US sitcom Life In Pieces.
The cast of the US sitcom Life In Pieces. Channel 10

The 39-year-old is also full of praise for on-screen father (Brolin).

"Jim's been in the business for a long time and there's nothing you can throw at him to make him go 'whoa'," Brandt says.

"He's done and seen it all. The funniest thing about Jim is his honesty. If there's something nobody's saying, but it's glaringly obvious, then he'll say it out loud."

The two screen veterans help to anchor the show with their believable chemistry as the Short siblings' ageing parents, a relationship they'd just played in the comedy film Sisters starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

"That's when they realised they worked so well together. It's so funny to see them together on screen and off screen," she says.

"What I love about this show is these family members are all loving and accepting of each other and each other's faults. They put it out there and go the whole nine yards.

"We have to give a lot of credit to Jim and Dianne and the way they play their roles."

Life In Pieces airs tonight at 8pm on Channel 10.

Topics:  breaking bad channel 10 television

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