“Episodes” star Kathleen Rose Perkins gives us the scoop on her new lesbian storyline

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AE: It’s totally within Carol’s wheelhouse, but also takes her in a new direction that you never saw coming. What do you like most about the story line?

KRP: My favorite part is that it’s the healthiest relationship Carol has ever been in. She’s always pretending to be happy, but is never happy. This is the first time that I’ve ever played Carol as truly happy. She’s in this really fun, loving, respectful relationship with this person who treats her well. This is just a whole new world for Carol. This woman actually likes her. And, I had more chemistry with Andrea Savage [who plays Helen Basch] than I’ve had with the men.

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AE: Is Carol is bisexual now?

KRP: What do you think?

AE: Actually, I though of a term that I think is more appropriate for Carol. I think she’s boss-sexual.

KRP: [laughs] Oh no! I wish to God I had come up with that! That’s brilliant!

AE: You can have it!

KRP: That’s fantastic! Oh my God, that’s fantastic. You know, yes. That’s exactly what she is. The first requirement for Carol being attracted to someone is they are in some sort of authority position. Eventually, in one episode, Beverly refers to her as a lesbian. And I say, “I don’t think I’m a lesbian.” So Beverly asks, “What do you think you are?” And Carol says, “I don’t know. I feel uncomfortable with labels.”

AE: Ha! That’s exactly what makes her a lesbian: eschewing labels. Seriously, that’s the gayest thing Carol could have said.

KRP: That’s great! I’ll relay that to the producers.

AE: I like Carol’s friendship with Beverly. There are so few stand-alone female friendships in television comedies. What’s with that?

KRP: My favorite part of each episode is playing the relationship between Beverly and Carol. I’ve actually become really close friends with Tamsin Greig, who plays Beverly. There’s a friendship between [the character] Sean and Matt LeBlanc, a bromance between them, but it’s not as deep and complex as Beverly and Carol. They just sit it bars. We get to go hiking and smoke pot. I cherish those [hiking] scenes. They’re some of my favorite scenes.

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AE: That reminds me. What is with Carol’s hiking hands? What are you doing there?

KRP: Listen. A long time ago, when my mother was on a health kick, she started speed walking. And they do “heel-toe,” but they also move their arms like that, to get their core working. When they added these hiking scenes, I had no idea how Carol would walk in flat shoes because she’s always in heels. Really painful heels. So, I had this idea that, as crazy as she is, Carol went to a walking specialist and learned how to walk in this really funny way. And Carol flexes her palms up because she’s gotten really weird with it. That’s just me try to make something more funny.

AE: Mission accomplished. Who’s the better kisser, Merc or Helen? No offense to John Pankow, but I think I know the answer to this.

KRP: Andrea has great lips, so Helen, of course. They had auditions for the role of Helen Basch, and I was lucky enough to do some chemistry reads with a couple of different actresses. And when Andrea came in, I was like, “I like her. She’s hot! I think that’s what Carol would go for.”

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AE: But it’s a comedy rule that no one is allowed to be happy, so I’m already worried for the two of them. Please tell me Carol and Helen at least make it to the end of this season?

KRP: [laughs] You know I can’t say anything or it would spoil everything! And I’m dying. I want to tell you everything and I want to find out if you like what happens. I can’t wait to find out how people feel about how everything goes down. It’s so great!

AE: You’re killing me.

KRP: The finale episode of this season? My mouth was agape the whole time. I can’t believe where they put these characters. I don’t want to say if it’s a good place or a bad place, or what happens, but it’s a great roller coaster ride.

AE: Carol is the character you’ve played the longest, right?

KRP: Yes. She’s the best character I’ve ever been able to play. Because of the longevity of it, but also because she’s not one-note. Every season, I see a new side of Carol in the writing that I had no idea existed before.

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