Shows like “Gossip Girl” and “Law & Order” depict two very different versions of New York City — the glittery, polished wealth and the grime and crime of the underbelly. MTV’s latest scripted offering, “I Just Want My Pants Back,” features neither of those things.
The series, based on the novel by David J. Rosen, dives into Brooklyn, unapologetically spotlighting the indifference and boredom that plagues the oft-parodied hipster population. At the heart of the story is Jason (Peter Vack), a sort of Seth Cohen on a diet of ramen and PBR whose uninspiring entry level job is just his way of working for the weekend.
The true breakout of the show, though, is Kim Shaw as his best friend Tina, who has somehow discovered the secret to having direction and having fun. Lots and lots of fun. She’s got the best one-liners and the best hair, and we can’t help kind-of-sort-of hoping that Jason stops pining for his long lost one-night stand and hook up with her instead. She’d probably puke at the very thought, though.
We caught up with Shaw this week to talk Tina, NYC, and that wasteland between college and Real Life. Read our Q&A below, and definitely don’t miss Zap2it’s exclusive clip of Shaw in action (ahem) below.
Zap2it: What did you love about Tina when you read the pilot?
Kim Shaw: Tina’s one of those rare birds who kind of knows exactly what to say at every moment. She’s really smart, and she’s really witty, which, as an actress, especially, is really refreshing. She’s the smartest character I’ve ever played, for sure, because I tend to get very stereotypical blonde stuff a lot, which is only fun for so long. It’s really fun to play someone who’s smarter than most of the boys on the show.
You really seem to embody the character perfectly. Where does the line between Kim and Tina blur?
You know when you get into a fight with someone and you want to say something, but you don’t think of the perfect way to say it in that moment? Then you’re headed down in the elevator and you’re like “F***, I wish I’d said this!” and you almost want to go back upstairs? Tina is the person who always says that thing in the moment. She’s always got the right kind of zinger; whether it’s mean or it’s playful, it’s always on the tip of her tongue. I wish I could think more like her, for sure. She’s also way more fashionable than I will ever be.
Do you have anything in common with her?
I really relate to how much she loves her friends. She really cares about Jason, her best friend, and their other best friends played by Elisabeth Hower and Jordan Carlos. She would do anything for them. In her love life, she’s kind of as clueless as Jason is, but she’s a woman so she’s got an idea of what she wants more than Jason does, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it works out for her in the end.
What do you think about the relationship between Tina and Jason? They have such a strong friendship, but do you think people will root for them to get together?
With any modern relationship between a man and a woman, everyone — including their own friends — assume that they’re going to hook up. I personally have a lot of guy friends that I would rather shave my head than be with them that way, so I know those relationships and I think it’s similar to Tina and Jason. Sometimes those kinds of friendships blossom into other things. For me personally… never. In this season, they do stay friends, but who knows what’ll happen in the future.
Does the raunch factor of the show ever surprise you? I know it’s on MTV and it’s on late at night, but you guys get pretty dirty.
It’s really fun to have that ability to let the writers play. On set, everyone’s so comfortable with each other and so lovely, so it’s really easy to just trust everyone. We get to cuss a little bit more, we get to show a little more skin, but the show does get packaged for a before-eight-o’clock version, which is still just as funny, just not quite as raunchy.
So many New York based shows shoot on a back lot in LA — did shooting in Brooklyn really add to the experience for you?
It one hundred percent did. I have lived here for about 8 years, and it’s the best city in the world. To be able to showcase it on the show is such a pleasure. We actually shoot on the actual subway, which is almost never done. We got to rent some cars for a couple hours. There’s such a pull to this city, and to be able to share that with people who may or may not have ever lived here before is really a privilege.
It’s kind of nice to see a show about young people in New York that don’t have some secret stash of money and giant apartments and Louboutins.
Right? Everyone’s been on a ramen noodle diet once or twice. We show the city through the eyes of the youth. Other shows shoot in really high-end bars and nice apartments, but we really see the city through the eyes of 20-year-olds who can’t afford a steak dinner every night. The apartments are realistic and the bars that we go to are the bars that myself and my friends actually have fun in.
You’re working with Doug Liman, who did “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “The O.C.” and the “Bourne Identity” movies.
It’s really such an honor to be part of his love letter to this city. He’s lived here all his life and never shot in Greenpoint, in Brooklyn, so it’s great to do this in a neighborhood that’s never really been showcased int his way before. Doug is kind of a mad scientist genius, He’s really kind, very funny, and he knows exactly what he wants. He mans the camera most of the time, himself. He’s very well-spoken and his movies have always been really inspiring to me, growing up, so it’s an honor to work with him.
The series premieres next Thursday, Feb. 2 at 11 p.m. EST. In the meantime, check out this exclusive clip on Zap2it.