NC Native Behind The New Fox Cartoon 'Bless The Harts'
A new cartoon on Fox follows the misadventures of the Harts, a blue-collar North Carolina family struggling to get by. It’s called Bless the Harts. The show was created by Emily Spivey, whose writing credits include "Saturday Night Live" and "Mad TV." She was born in Statesville and grew up in High Point and drew on her upbringing as inspiration for the show.
Spivey joined WFAE "Morning Edition" host Marshall Terry from her home in Los Angeles.
Marshall Terry: So, I have to ask: Did you go through the drive-thru to get biscuits and gravy a lot growing up?
Emily Spivey: Oh my gosh, yes. I was just going, I just went through the drive-thru last week. I was home all the last couple of weeks and then my sister, who actually she's a Methodist minister in Statesville, Amy Spivey, we were in Asheville and went to a biscuit place there and we were reading the menu aloud and laughing so hard we caught ourselves because that was just like the intro of the show.
Terry: So did you grow up in a family like the Harts?
Spivey: Well, yes pretty much. I mean the Harts and everyone on "Bless the Harts" is sort of an amalgam of lots of different people I grew up with in the Triad. And hopefully, it comes off as a love letter to that area. Like when people watch it, I really want people to feel North Carolina and authenticity we've tried to pump into the show.
Terry: It's set in the fictional Greenpoint, North Carolina. So, is that your take on High Point?
Spivey: High Point and Greensboro. Yes.
Terry: OK. What makes North Carolina such a good setting for a show?
Spivey: I don't know. I mean I think growing up I was always fascinated with everyone around me. I just found the people to be so humorous and soulful and it's just right like I grew up so middle class and I mean that in the best kind of way, like it was just people, just working hard and keeping their heads down and going to church and I think it's no mystery why "The Andy Griffith Show" is so iconic. I just think that Andy Griffith was really honing in on the same stuff that I enjoyed about growing up in North Carolina, which is just the sweet soulfulness and the funny people and the storytelling, and I hope that comes through.
Terry: Yeah, and like you talking about some of the things that you remember most about growing up in North Carolina — how would viewers see that in the show?
Spivey: I try to include a lot of authenticity about place, meaning like you will see the Jamestown bridge. We do a whole episode about Lydia the Jamestown hitchhiking ghost. And then, of course, you'll see an amalgam of Bojangles' and Mrs. Winner's and Biscuit Town. And I tried to really make sure that the fecund sort of green kudzu and green trees and just the lilies of the valley and all that stuff is really infused in the backgrounds and so
I just really wanted it to be as specific as possible so that it comes off as authentic. I really want people to be laughing with these characters and not at them because it's a love letter to literally everyone I grew up with. I'm the most homesick gal that ever lived. I've been away from home for so long now but it's all I think about is getting back there.
Terry: What do you miss the most?
Spivey: I miss the people. I miss the seasons. I miss the green, you know when you live in LA — I mean, parts of LA are very pretty but it's just not the same. It's not the green, it's not the cicadas and the humidity and the tree frogs and the crickets. Like, I just love every aspect of it.
Terry: And your show airs right after "The Simpsons." I imagine that's kind of an honor on one hand but daunting on the other.
Spivey: Oh gosh, yes that's it. It is the biggest. I like, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever have a time slot like that, but it is like a tremendous amount of pressure. People are so passionate about that night of animation, you know. I just want people to love my show as they get to love it as much as they love those other wonderful shows that are on that Sunday night.
Photo courtesy of http://emilyspivey.com/.