For Gillian Jacobs, best known for playing unstable do-gooder Britta on the beleaguered "Community," having a guest arc on a show like HBO's "Girls" has her navigating new talking-points terrain.
Jacobs stopped by the Los Angeles Times' studio to chat about both series, and had a revelation midstream while answering questions about her "Girls" character Mimi Rose Howard, who was introduced last season as Adam's independent and mature girlfriend.
"We never talk about the relationships on 'Community,'" Jacobs said. "There's not a psychological profile of the characters."
The differences between the shows, as one might suspect, extend beyond Q&A topics. While both shows are technically in the comedy sphere, the tones are markedly different -- and that was a challenge, Jacobs said.
"It feels like two different parts of my brain," she said. "It was a really refreshing thing about 'Girls'; I sort of went into it knowing that it is defined as a comedy, but I was going to release myself of any and all obligation to make things funny -- which is really refreshing because you really have to, sometimes, do very technical things to make jokes work on a show like 'Community' or other sitcoms. So, you're having to engage your brain in a very specific way because, otherwise, the joke will fall flat.
"But with 'Girls,' I was like, 'I'm going to play this scene as truthfully as I can and I think it will be funny because there are inherently funny things about these situations, but I'm not going to sell any jokes.'"
It's a sensibility that will carry over to her upcoming Netflix series, "Love." Judd Apatow (also an executive producer on "Girls") co-created and wrote the show with Paul Rust and Lesley Arfin ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine"). The L.A.-set comedy takes a look at modern relationships by following a man and woman as they navigate the stages of couple-dom. Jacobs will star opposite Rust ("I Love You, Beth Cooper").
"I dont know what to compare it to," Jacobs said. "The characters only meet at the end of the first episode. So, you're going to see my life, my work. And his life, and his work ... I feel like I'll get in trouble if I say too much. It's more in the vein of 'Girls' than it is 'Community.'"
"Love" received a two-season straight-to-series order on Netflix, which came as somewhat of a relief for Jacobs, who is quite familiar with the uncertainty that comes with doing television. "Community" was constantly on the brink of cancellation during its run on NBC. The network ultimately pulled the plug after its fifth season, and the little-engine-that-could show was soon after resurrected by Yahoo for a sixth season. So, to be "freed" from the wait-and-see aspect is "really refreshing," Jacobs said. "I highly recommend it."
Season 1 of "Love" will premiere in 2016, and Jacobs offered this suggestion for suitable snacks to consume binge-watching the show.
"My character eats a lot of snacks on the show," she said. "I was eating a lot of ice cream yesterday [on set], so maybe you follow along with the character. I'd say -- spoilers -- some spaghetti, hash browns and some ice cream with a lot of chocolate sauce."