Skip to content Skip to footer

Phung Time

Andrew Phung discusses the evolution of his hit comedy as Run the Burbs returns for season 3

Two seasons have passed since Kim’s Convenience star Andrew Phung established his own suburban universe in Run the Burbs, and the actor and co-creator of the sitcom feels proud of its subtle but meaningful evolution. “It’s lived up and gone beyond my expectations,” says Phung. “I love that when we had cultural moments or references, it was so well received by the audience that for season two we pushed it even more. And then, for season three, even more.”


But what makes Phung the happiest is how what could have been viewed as marginalized cultural representation became universal entertainment. “Having a family that Canadians could fall in love with and relate to, I think that was something we really wanted,” he says. “At the beginning of season one, the show was promoted as representation and diverse — which I agree with and I’m all for — but to me, beyond that, it just is. It’s a family that exists in the world and we get to laugh at the humour and the relatability. You’re just part of the fabric of our culture and our community. I’m so happy that it connects to a larger audience.”


This year, the Pham fam returns to television with two women at the helm, as Jennica Harper and Nelu Handa are co-showrunning the series. “Jennica and I have a long history of working together,” says Handa, who, prior to joining the Burbs writers’ room in season one, wrote for CTV comedy Jann, of which Harper was showrunner. “We have a very good rhythm together and understanding. My perspective coming into it was: I know all these characters and how to write for the people on the show; Jennica brought infinite wisdom for how to break these stories and strengthen ideas.”


Harper says she came in as a fan of the show, ready to play in the already well-equipped sandbox. “It was just joyful for me to come into a show where the machine is already working,” she says. “For me, it was definitely about finding, ‘What’s a Burbs way to do this? What’s a family way to do this?’ just because I was the new kid. But for the most part it’s, frankly, building on what they’ve already done for two seasons, and trying not to break anything.”


In the third season, the focus continues to be on the core Phams. Khia (Zoriah Wong) is turning 17 and Leo (Roman Pesino) is about to be 14, and both are eager for independence. Andrew (Phung) and Camille (Rakhee Morzaria) are trying to balance Camille’s booming career. And there’s a new addition to the household. “We have Ramesh [Ali Hassan], Camille’s father moving into the house, so it’s a season about seeing the evolution of family,” says Phung. “There’s ups and downs. Even a show that’s as positive as ours, we’re showcasing that. Family’s not easy and kids growing up isn’t easy.”


For Morzaria, one of the upcoming episodes truly allowed her to stretch as an actor. “Camille has this moment of reckoning with her past grief,” she says. “It’s a hilarious episode, and it was challenging as an actor, because I had to start the day being a huge goof and being in that high energy, and then switch into a moment of my character having introspection and moments of connection. It was a beautifully challenging episode to do, and very personal, because I also, in my life, have gone through moments of self-reflection and grief.”


Other episodes focus on the family renting a cottage for the very first time. “It was fun to bring that story to life,” says Handa. “I bring it up now and people of colour are like, ‘Oh, I’ve never been to a cottage,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s the story.’ Because a lot of people haven’t.” The Phams also celebrate Holi, and there is the annual Lunar New Year episode. “Those things are really powerful,” says Handa. “We’ve seen a million Christmas episodes, but have we seen a Tet episode? Have we seen a Holi episode? Have we seen all this diversity on TV? And the answer’s no.”

And, while Phung points to the show’s strength in its relatability, there is also power in having a couple not constantly at odds with each other. “They’re stronger than ever,” says Phung. “They allow the other person to talk through their problems, and I think that’s really important with a partner, to be able to speak freely and truly with one another.” Adds Morzaria: “The other thing is, they’re goofballs, and it’s really fun to be able to show the honesty and the playfulness of what a marriage could be that we don’t always see. We [often] see the deeper bits, but we don’t always get to see the playful, goofy, silly bits. And I think that that’s what makes them, as a couple, lovable.”

Run the Burbs airs Tuesday, January 16, on CBC

Leave a comment

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Ritatis et quasi architecto beat

Whoops, you're not connected to Mailchimp. You need to enter a valid Mailchimp API key.