A Friends favourite leads the cast of a new animated comedy

Even a cartoon poodle needs to have friends, as Lisa Kudrow realizes. With one of television’s most enduringly popular sitcoms to her credit—Friends, of course—along with The Comeback and Web Therapy, the actress tries something different in returning to weekly comedy. She lends her voice (and her talents as a producer) to Fox’s new cartoon HouseBroken.

Kudrow’s Honey, a poodle, leads group therapy sessions for neighbourhood pets and strays, most of whom suffer from very human anxieties. While counselling such peers as a commitment-phobic tortoise (voiced by Will Forte) and an OCD-afflicted terrier (Veep Emmy-winner Tony Hale, who does two characters), Honey has her own troubles via an arranged marriage to a St. Bernard (Nat Faxon). Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe) and Clea DuVall, who voice other characters, are among the show’s exec producers.

HouseBrokenCTV“I just saw the cast and said, ‘Yeah! I want to be in that group,’” the pleasant, lively Kudrow explains. “It was just such a funny idea, pets getting together to have therapy. Honey isn’t qualified to be a therapist, but her human is one.” (Noting her Web Therapy past, Kudrow muses, “I’m going to be typecast.”)

As for HouseBroken animals mirroring real-world situations, Kudrow cites one whose “humans are separating, so he’s going back and forth between them, and he’s anxious.” Kudrow was a bit anxious herself in determining how Honey should sound, and she allows she made what she terms “the wrong choice” initially.

“I had to go back and re-record,” she says, “because I thought, ‘Oh, that would be really funny.’ And then, it wasn’t. She sounded a little too superior; maybe I was bumping into what I did in Web Therapy. The thought was that she’s a poodle and thinks she’s a little better than everybody else, but it didn’t work at all. I had to adjust.”

Kudrow agrees HouseBroken is an ideal job in the time of this COVID pandemic. “We got to do table reads over Zoom,” she reports, though she laments that in mostly recording by herself, “You don’t get to chat or exchange moments while getting coffee. Nat Faxon and I got to record together... and good luck to whoever is putting that together, because I just laughed every time he spoke! Clea also came to some sessions and read with me.”

Reunited recently with her Friends colleagues to film a much-anticipated reunion special, Kudrow has been a guest voice on such other animated series as The Simpsons and King of the Hill. She notes that with the timing of HouseBroken specifically, “it was helpful to know, ‘Oh. I have something I have to do.’ It was really nice to be busy with something.”

HouseBroken airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CTV2 & Fox