When you’re comfortable in a relationship, you don’t really think about what’s going to happen when it ends. You don’t think about the events you’re missing out on while watching reality TV with your boyfriend, or the people you’re neglecting as you fantasize about your girlfriend moving in, or the world you’re leaving behind as you focus on the new one you’re building.
But all of those things are happening, at least a little bit. You just don’t realize it until your romantic relationship is over.
That’s where Hulu’s latest half-hour comedy Dollface begins, with Jules getting dumped by Jeremy, her boyfriend of five years, over huevos rancheros.
Played by Kat Dennings, who also executive produced the series alongside Margot Robbie and show creator Jordan Weiss, Jules must quickly come to terms with just how much of her own life she had put on hold while fully living Jeremy’s. “When you’re really in love and obsessed with somebody, you kind of want to take on all the things about them,” Dennings told MTV News during a visit to the show’s Los Angeles set. “You want to celebrate that person, and they don’t always want to celebrate you back.”
And so, newly single Jules turns to the people who do celebrate her — or, at least, the people who would have celebrated her, had she paid any attention to them for the past half-decade — her college best friends Madison (Brenda Song) and Stella (Shay Mitchell). But with all the time that’s passed, it’s not as easy as just showing up anymore.
Madison, in particular, isn’t too forgiving of Jules’s tendency to only act like a friend when it’s convenient for her. “She’s really hurt,” Song said. “It’s been five years since she’s heard from her at all, and she’s sort of given up on her.” Meanwhile, Jules will do anything — anything! Going out when she wants to stay in bed, preaching the gospel of brunch, even crashed a celeb’s party deep in Hollywood — to get some semblance of close human contact back in her life, so, with the guidance of her mystical Cat Lady (or, the “physical manifestation of Jules’s worst fear,” Dennings described), adding a touch of magical realism to the show, she puts aside her cozy, reclusive customs and jumps back into the sometimes complicated, but always rewarding world of female friendships. And while coaxing her way back into Madison and Stella’s good graces, Jules’s coworker Izzy (Esther Povitsky) eases her way into their fold, completing the core quartet and solidifying the pleasantly complementary group of female leads.
“They’re not all the same kind of girls,” Mitchell said of her totally chill, free-spirited Stella, the fast-talking, Type A Madison, the eager, nervous Izzy, and the finding-herself Jules. “This isn’t Gossip Girl, we’re not all on the Upper East Side. We all have different financial backgrounds, we all have different things that we find funny and personalities and styles.” And their differences are what makes them strong; what one lacks, another supplies, and they can rely on each other without feeling competitive, steering away from those cliché female relationships TV was once dominated by, and into a more modern, realistic approach to friendship.
What works for the characters also works for the actors. Song is the planner, organizing group activities for the quartet; Dennings is the “mom,” gathering everything they need; Povitsky deals with the minutiae, making sure even the most obscure needs will be met; and Mitchell is along for the ride. “It does seem unexpected, but then at the same time, when we’re all together, it feels so perfect,” Povitsky said. Much of their bonding centered around food: group Boba orders, picking up morning coffee, coordinating their lunchtime Postmates. And then there was some practical bonding — Dennings and Song started carpooling to work when they realized they lived five minutes apart — and simply being curious about one another’s lives and having the willingness to share.
It was a dream come true for the show’s 26-year-old creator, a fan of all four leads long before they were cast. “How long into knowing Shay should I tell her that my friends and I used to leave high school during study hall to go to someone’s house and watch Pretty Little Liars?” Weiss wondered early in the process. And she still can’t believe her luck. “I feel like I have two foursomes in my life that I have such affection for, and one is Jules, Madison, Stella, and Izzy, but the other is Kat, Brenda, Shay, and Esther.”
Speaking to MTV News on the phone, Weiss said that Dollface is her way of contributing to her favorite genre, romantic comedies. Only instead of desperately seeking Mr. Right, “maybe the biggest love story of my life is between me and my best friend,” she said, looking to her mom as an example. When her close family friend’s husband passed away, Weiss watched the way her mom supported and stood by her, planning trips together and having sleepovers. “I call her my Aunt Barbara even though she’s not really my aunt, and I want that,” she said. “I want to know that if something happens to me when I’m 60, that I have a best friend still that I’ve been friends with for my entire life.”
Dollface might not be what you want after a breakup, when it feels like the cat-lady life is inching closer and closer, but it is the reality check you need: Something to fill the quiet; an excuse to snuggle up to your best friends with the comfort food(s) of your choice, nudging you to let out the laughs you can’t seem to find on your own. Because, yes, breakups are sad, but your greatest love story could be right by your side.