Mother’s Day might have been last Sunday, but the people of Chatswin are celebrating it on tonight’s season finale of Suburgatory. And since the ABC sitcom is set in the suburbs, Mother’s Day is a big deal that, rather fittingly, is wrapped into a big contest amongst the town’s wacky constellation of characters. “It’s a full-town competition to prove whose mother is loved the most,” explains star Ana Gasteyer, who recently was upped from recurring to series regular for playing quirky, perfection-obsessed mother Sheila Shay. “There’s this totally asinine situation, with just days and days of us racing around — Shelia is just super hardcore. And as you can imagine, Sheila has high and exacting standards, and she likes to win, so there’s a lot of shenanigans surrounding that.”
Gasteyer can’t say enough about what you’ll see tonight. “It’s just a great episode because [creator] Emily Kapnek is just a genius,” she says. “Tessa [Jane Levy] is motherless. It’s like a huge component of why George brought her to the suburbs — why she is there — so it kind of hits the motherhood question from every angle.”
In terms of Shelia’s own relationship with her daughter Lisa (Allie Grant), there’s a big moment coming between the pair, too. “There’s a bit of a cliffhanger with Sheila and Lisa coming up,” Gasteyer says, “but yeah, I’m not allowed to say anything. I was told to keep my mouth shut.” Is there any chance the mother-daughter duo might reconcile all their differences? Fat chance. “It’s not getting resolved in an episode,” Gasteyer says. “It most certainly ain’t. But yeah, their relationship is loaded and fraught and it’s only going to get more so.”
Lastly, Gasteyer says that the finale provided her the opportunity to cross something off her personal bucket list… although she may just be saying that facetiously. “My dream of dressing up as Cinderella and riding in a carriage with my family has finally come true,” she says, with a laugh. “It’s a tiny little moment, but you will get to see me in full Cinderella glory. And I also will have a very, very, well known R&B singer serenade me.”
Now that Gasteyer has previewed tonight’s season finale, let’s see how she handles being grilled with an EW Pop Culture Personality Test.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Name a TV show that makes you cry, or has made you cry in the past.
ANA GASTEYER: Well, the hardest I’ve ever cried was when Six Feet Under ended. That was intensely painful crying, it wasn’t even fun.
In the spirit of season finales, what cliffhangers come to mind as the most memorable?
Well, The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad have both had incredible cliffhangers that have made me knock people over to get back home in time to watch it. For sure. [Laughs.] I didn’t grow up in a particularly TV culture family, but of course, the “Who Shot J.R.?” finale of Dallas was just the biggest thing that ever happened to anyone. Now, TV is all we ever do in my family.
What canceled TV show would you bring back if you could?
The Battle of the Network Stars. It just makes me laugh so hard. Just watch some old episodes! Like, what would be better than “Here comes team 30 Rock!” in a potato sack race against the Suburgatory team. It’s the stupidest thing in the world. It’s fantastic. That’s when there’s no programming. There’s the Greatest American Hero doing like a pole vault? I mean, come on.
What is the worst case scenario when it comes to a show that your DVR didn’t record?
Recently, it was Homeland, and not only did it not tape it — in its place were about 3,000 episodes of Good Luck Charlie. ‘Cause my kid had gone in and like programmed her own thing, but she sets it, she doesn’t do record once. Literally it was thousands and thousands of them.
What series or show are you planning to do a marathon of?
I would one day like to go back and just re-marathon all of Lost, just because I’ve never really sat down and watched it straight through. The other thing that is honestly a gift that will give forever — and you don’t have to do it sequentially, it’s just a really good kind of healthy palate cleanser, it’s amazing television — is Golden Girls. It is amazing comedy writing. It is as perfect as it gets. It is so, it’s just structurally perfect — talk about things we don’t see now. Those are four impeccable comediennes with impeccable comedy timing, ensemble work, and great, great, great joke structure. I mean, that joke structure is the same as it is now on the best comedy shows. There’s not that much difference, and it’s so fun to watch.
What show isn’t aired now that should be?
Do you remember that channel Trio? I’m still mourning the loss of it. They used to do the greatest s—. They would actually run, unedited, the Miss America pageants, like the 1984 Miss America pageant, when Vanessa Williams won — when she was crowned — and it is such a gift from God. It is the greatest. We end almost every social evening in L.A. with a requisite viewing of the 1984 Miss America pageant. It is so fantastic. Gary Collins was hosting. It’s so good! I wish that would come back. I’m sorry that America doesn’t tune in for that anymore because that is as good as it gets. People, they thought we were canceling it because we didn’t care about the glamour and the beauty, but what they didn’t understand is that most of us were just watching it to rip on it, and that’s what made it so special and fun. And like, watch the woman with the fire torches juggling.
What’s your most prized pop culture possession?
Today, I just had a clutter-buster lady in because my house is such a disaster. I looked over and she was opening up my Celine Dion Heart of the Ocean pendant, that Celine gave me when I did a walk-on at Madison Square Garden, and I was like, “That’s my Heart of the Ocean pendant!” Literally, I get rid of everything, I give everything away — I never hold on to crew gifts or anything because I always feel like it’s embarrassing to have it, but I have to have that pendant forever. The other thing is that my aunt used to work for NBC in the ’70s, and I actually have a satin Saturday Night Live jacket that I’m gonna take out of storage and give to my kid, ’cause it’s, like, the greatest item ever. Isn’t that hip? I don’t think she really knows what Saturday Night Live is yet, but she vaguely does. That’s a cool pop culture thing.
What R-rated movie did you see too young?
Animal House. I was in fourth grade, and we begged my friend Amy’s dad to take us, and he took us. He was a doctor, and we got him to explain the scenes in the car — where they would be like looking out the window and chatting — and he answered in like really political, doctor terms, like explaining masturbation. I thought I was gonna die, I thought I was gonna actually die. Like, the whole rest of the movie was a wash because I was in such a hot flash of shame. By the way, everything was R-rated back then. I just got the Bad News Bears for my kids, and I’m like, “Oh my God, we’ve got to turn this off!” It was like so much swearing, everybody drank, it was a completely different time in terms of content. And Saturday Night Fever, that was another one that I saw. Super racy. You know why? Cause our parents were all, “Let’s go see the disco movie!” And it was a really dark movie about class and culture and the disco parts weren’t interesting at all. It was like the sex and the jumping off of the bridge that resonated.
What’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod?
Oooh. Well, that would have to be “Sexy And I Know It.” I have a lot of embarrassing songs on my iPod, because we listen to embarrassing things all the time. Musical theater songs. I mean, every single one of those.
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky