Among the many highlights in the premiere episode of “Better Things,” that audition scene stood out. While the cameos were great — Constance Zimmer! Julie Bowen! — and an inside look at the industry is always fun, there was an unspoken meta narrative at play that made the scene feel like an inside joke you’ve just got to hear.
Well, that’s because it was — and now you can.
To recap: Sam (Pamela Adlon) went to audition for a legal drama and sat down next to none other than everyone’s favorite “UnREAL” boss, Constance Zimmer. Waiting to read along with a slew of other dark-haired women in suit jackets, the two actors’ first words to each other were, “Of course you’re here.”
Turns out the acknowledgement was a shared wink to one another, right there, on national TV.
“Pam and I are constantly mistaken for each other,” Zimmer said during an interview with IndieWire. “Everybody always thinks that I’m her and she’s me. [They] always say to me, ‘You’re so great on ‘Californication.” And they always say to her, ‘You were really great on ‘House of Cards.’”
“It was so funny,” Adlon said in a separate interview. “It was constantly like, ‘You didn’t get it. Constance Zimmer got it.'”
According to Zimmer, the two didn’t know each other “for the longest time,” but when they finally met, Adlon knew what had to be done.
“She has always talked about, like, ‘If I ever get the opportunity to do something, I need it to be our inside joke. We have to do it where you and I are both auditioning for the same thing or something,” Zimmer said. “Lo and behold, here it is, and she called me one day and said, ‘Listen, I’m writing this scene into the show. We have to have it in there. I don’t care how many people understand it or get it. It’s our thing.'”
“I originally wrote it with Constance, Janeane Garofalo, Leah Remini — all the people who’d get mixed up,” Adlon said. “They couldn’t do it, so I put it all into Constance.”
Photo by John Sciulli/BEI/BEI/Shutterstock (698063d)
Near the end of the scene, after Sam and Constance have joked about how bad the writing is in the script before recommitting to take the audition seriously, the doors burst open and out walks Julie Bowen. At the very sight of her in the audition room, both actresses give up and walk out of the room, convinced the “Modern Family” star already has the part.
So how did Bowen factor into the inside joke?
“I go up against Julie Bowen all the time,” Zimmer said. “And so does Pam. Pam and I always laugh about how it’s me, Pam and Julie Bowen, and then Julie Bowen always gets it. We’re like, ‘You either wanted a blonde or you didn’t!'”
Zimmer and Bowen have a rich history. Both starred on the ABC drama, “Boston Legal,” and it came down to Zimmer and Bowen for the role of Claire Dunphy on “Modern Family.”
“Her and I were talking the night we were waiting to find out who would get the part,” Zimmer said. “I was like, ‘Look: We’re friends. So either way we’re both going to be excited. Whoever gets it, it’s going to be great.’ So it had to be Julie in there, right?”
“It’s a little nod,” Adlon said. “It was the greatest. It was really fun.”
Indeed it was. This time, for once, everyone got the part.