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Staying Alive

Office alum Craig Robinson talks season 2 of swamp comedy Killing It

Divorced father and aspiring entrepreneur Craig Foster may not be out of the weeds despite his $20,000 reward in the Florida Python Challenge, but as far as Killing It star and exec producer Craig Robinson (The Office) is concerned, the group behind this highly comedic, never-ending struggle are killing it in life. “We found our footing and our groove,” says Robinson of lessons learned from the first season as they go into their second. “Our most exciting time was probably the table reads, seeing what’s coming next and learning more about how our characters are developing. You definitely come into the second season like, ‘OK, now we can play.’”

Our reintroduction to Craig, the character, is as a rich man, but we quickly flash back to life after he catches his python and the early days of his and business partner Jillian’s (Claudia O’Doherty) saw palmetto farm. “Craig has found some success, and now he’s got the challenge of building on that — or even keeping it,” says Robinson. “He gets knocked down immediately. He starts off and he’s all happy, but immediately something happens. Some things can look like a bump in the road, and he’s got to figure out a way past these things.”


Although we do not know what the distant future brings for Jillian, even in 2017 — with a tilted trailer for an office and a 2014 Kia to her name — things are starting to improve. “You’re seeing Jillian at such a rock bottom in season one. She lives inside her trailer billboard, which is pretty depressing,” says O’Doherty. “But now she’s no longer living in the trailer. She has a car, which is a huge boon for her, and you get to see them all a little bit more relaxed for about three seconds. Then obviously things start to go wrong again, but in a different way.”

Their first obstacle is the “swamp mafia” next door, headed up by Glee’s Dot-Marie Jones. Even without money-laundering neighbours, however, Florida is the gift that keeps on giving. “Florida is definitely a character,” says Robinson. “Florida has such an array of people. Miami is like, ‘Come on, shake your body, baby, do that conga,’ and 20 minutes away is Davie, like, [Robinson mimics ‘Dueling Banjos’ from Deliverance]. It’s amazing. We get some of that.”

For Florida Craig, there are really only two people in the state that matter, now that his ex-wife and daughter have left for California. Between Jillian and his best friend Isaiah (Rell Battle), this character is always going to be conflicted. “Craig talks about it all the time: I’m kind of the devil on his shoulder, and Claud is like the angel,” says Battle. “She’s always saying, ‘Go to the light, be positive, we can do it!’ And I’m always like, ‘Man, everything’s BS. We got to do it this way. We got to do to survive.’ Craig is getting caught in that struggle.” O’Doherty points out that her character is probably not inherently that angelic. “I think it’s a survival mechanism for her because the circumstances of her life are so dire that if she wasn’t so radically optimistic, she’d be really sad,” says the Australian actress. “She has to act extremely positive otherwise things could crumble quickly.”


And crumble they do, which is where the show gets to mine both its heart and its comedy. “The show, I think, is talking about how if you’re not born into privilege, the American dream is fairly elusive and requires an extreme amount of crazy struggle to secure any kind of success. These people who have no particular connections or advantages in life struggle really hard,” says O’Doherty. “I feel like it’s really fertile ground for comedy because watching things go badly for people is funny, but it also does show how capitalism is this absolutely unwinnable machine that we all are forced to live inside.”

If there is a lesson on Killing It, it is to never give up, even when life beats you down . . . over and over and over again. For Robinson, the moral compass of his character is what keeps Craig Foster from completely spiraling into darkness. “He always has his father in mind. His father taught him, work hard, be a good person, keep the faith, and you’ll do good, you’ll succeed,” he says. “At his core, that’s who he is, that’s what he believes. But then you turn around and you get punched in the face and you get up and get punched again, so he is going through that, like, ‘I’m trying to keep the faith . . . Oww!’ That’s where he finds himself.”

Killing It airs Thursday, November 30, on Showcase

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