The American Husband of “American Housewife” on Playing a TV Dad

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As 2016 drew to a close the cast of ABC’s American Housewife had good reason to celebrate. The freshman series, which returns tonight from its winter break with a new episode, recently received an additional nine-episode order (rounding out its season to 22) and just when the cast thought it couldn’t get any better, the brass at ABC added an additional episode as the ultimate topper to their Christmas tree (rounding the season to 23 episodes). “There’s a little more job security, but we’ll see what happens for a next season,” series star Diedrich Bader, who plays Greg Otto, the loving husband of the title character, told me just after the news broke. “It’s really exciting for us as we all really like each other and have a good time shooting the show.”

The series, which stars Katy Mixon (Mike & Molly) as Katie Otto, has fast become a bright spot in ABC’s Tuesday night family block, one that also includes The MiddleFresh Off the Boatand The Real O’Neals. Good-natured Katie is certainly not one of the perfectly coiffed, tightly toned and often snobbish women that populate the wealthy town of Westport, Conn., where the series is set. The statement, “One of these is not like theothers,” certainly applies to Katie, who’s never afraid to express what’s on her mind. Bader says that’s a big reason why the show is a success.

“Katy is an amazing lead because women immediately empathize with her,” Bader (pictured at right) told me. “They like her. She’s really just saying what [women] are thinking. [In the show] she knows she’s being judged all the time and that these Westport women are looking down on her, so she’s not paranoid; it’s actually happening. Women can be really tough on each other and she gets that.

“The thing Katy brings to the show, which I think is so lovely, is a fire mixed with insecurity and that’s gorgeous,” he added. “Women seem to really relate to her and feel that it’s their story she’s telling. When I met Katy I knew the show was going to go [forward]. She’s perfect for this just because of who she is. She’s strong and she’s not going to take anything lying down.  It’s such a lovely combination.”

Despite some initial flack from critics for its negative approach to parenting, Bader knew that with Mixon in the lead viewers would get the joke. The only problem was the show’s title. “It was originally called The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport,” he revealed. “My wife immediately hated that title and said, ‘No women are going to like that.’ I thought it was kind of funny, but I’m not a woman.”

Bader is no stranger to the world of TV comedy, having enjoyed nine seasons as goofy Oswald Lee Harvey on ABC’s The Drew Carey Show. Still, thanks to this role, he’s relishing the opportunity to join the ranks of quintessential TV dads like Mike Brady (Robert Reed) on the classic comedy The Brady Bunch.

“I’ve never actually been on a family show before,” shared the actor. “On The Drew Carey Show we did form a family, but that’s only because no one else really wanted us. This is as close to the family experience that you have. Greg is a sweet man – open and honest, and he really loves his wife and is very attracted to her. He also wants to be a part of the family. So many TV dads are trying to get out of their family and do things like play golf.  Greg never tries to get out of it.  I love being a dad.”

Rounding out Bader’s TV family are Julia Butters as youngest daughter Anna-Kat, Daniel DiMaggio as son Oliver and Meg Donnelly as oldest daughter Taylor, all of whom he describes as “wonderful actors, open and present when you are working.” (The cast is pictured at top.)

For the real-life father of two, Bader’s TV family has fast become his family away from home. “What’s fascinating is all of the kids on the show are only children, so they’ve kind of bonded as a family and fallen into the natural roles that siblings take in their birth order,” he said. “They’re also kind of close to who they are in real life. Like Daniel DiMaggio, who plays my son; he was born a 40-year-old man. His body is just now catching up with him. He really is a very serious kid.”

Bader told me there’s some really fun stuff coming up in the back ten episodes the cast is currently hard at work on, including the return of one of his favorite characters, the overly well-meaning, yet pretentious neighbor Viv, played by Leslie Bibb. “She’s always really fun and so great in everything,” he smiled. “I was watching Iron Man with my kids the other night and there she was! She’s lovely on the show and a great person, which helps us have a great, strong cast. I’m very excited about what’s coming up on the show.”

American Housewife airs Tuesdays at 8.30 p.m. on ABC.

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