Photo by The Riker Brothers
The Ms. Pat Show came in hot last summer when it premiered and rightfully earned a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score. Now back for season 2, the BET Plus series continues to unfold around the life of Patricia “Ms. Pat” Williams. The comedy is based on the stand-up and memoir of the titular Ms. Pat presents a fictionalized version of herself and her family as they live life in suburban Indiana.
Ahead of the Aug. 11 season 2 premiere, LA Confidential spoke with Theodore Barnes, who plays Ms. Pat’s son, Junebug.
What does Junebug have in store this season?
Junebug has got a lot of things going on this season. The ongoing theme for Junebug still is that he's trying to find himself, whether it's friends, family, the world, just doing what's right, doing what he thinks other people may like. He's still trying to find himself. He's still young, so he’s got time, but he's trying to settle into his sweet spot.
He's still getting into the flow of things and sooner or later he'll realize he's his own person. He starts out unique. With a name like Junebug, you’ve got to be, you’ve got to stand out.
Have you ever met the real-life Junebug (who is based on Ms. Pat’s actual son)?
I have! Me and the real-life Junebug, which I didn't know until recently, we're very close in age. He’s either 23 or 24 and I just turned 20 last week. I talk to him like two or three times a week because he's on set and we’ve got each other on Instagram, so we’re always in contact. He's a cool dude.
We've talked about the character before, but not like, “How would you want to be played?” It’s more so just chatting about how he's being portrayed? I just ask him, “Hey, did this ever happen?” That's usually what our conversations are about. Nine times out of 10 he's like, “Yeah, that happened…” It’s just more like, “Hey, so when you did this, what were you thinking?”
What have you enjoyed about playing Junebug for two seasons?
With every character, me and my acting coach, as time goes on, we try to make the character as close to me as possible so that I can add my comedic relief and so that each take is an opportunity to make it better. With Junebug, I feel like he's kind of like my evil twin. Junebug has a lot of smart remarks. He's got a smart mouth. He has a little bit of no filter. He's like a mini Ms. Pat in a way. I would say that's the best thing about it because there's certain things that I'll do in takes or say or certain looks that I'll give that in real life I wouldn't do because that’s just doing a little too much. With Junebug, he's not limited. He doesn't have a limit to his expressions, his thoughts, his sayings.
Most of your roles are for TV. What do you enjoy about working in television?
It's another opportunity to be better on each show and show a different side whether it's comedy or a drama… With TV, you do it and I would say the best part about it is you don't really have to wait a long time to see your work— a couple months and it's out.
What makes The Ms. Pat Show special?
I feel like you can watch The Ms. Pat Show and, especially if they can relate to the show, they get a feeling of not being judged whether it's a good or bad way. On The Ms. Pat Show, we deal with a lot of triggers, we deal with a lot of trauma. Ms. Pat and co-creator Jordan E. Cooper, they've found a way to take that and, like Ms. Pat says, if you can find a way to take your pain and make a joke out of it or laugh about it and deal with it and cope that way, then you're winning.
Especially with season two, season one was a lot, but season two is further. Anytime someone is gonna sit down and watch The Ms. Pat Show, they’re gonna laugh, they’re cry, they're gonna feel something. We're not just the regular comedy/sitcom that’s “ha ha ha.” This is real. I can't even stress real because every single one of the cast members is relating a story. We all have our own stories. So that means you got multiple people in a scene that the world is going to be able to relate to. We have multiple characters, we have multiple personalities that people can say, “Oh, man, I remember that. I remember when I told my mom this and she reacted this way,” or “I remember when I was going through this at school, and I didn't know how to feel, but I remember seeing Junebug or I remember seeing Janelle go through that. And that's how I felt.” And so that makes people feel good inside because you're not the only one. People go through things and there's times where they don't say anything. There's times where they just deal with it within themselves and you'll never know. And a lot of times with TV, movies, plays, speeches, poems— that's a sense of relief for people and that can take a lot of weight off of someone’s shoulders. It's like talking to somebody. It's therapeutic. We're feeding everything and everybody as best we can in 10 episodes.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photography by: The Riker Brothers