The Mick: Explaining That Misdirect With Chip’s Father
The Mick showrunners Dave and John Chernin are joined by the episode’s writer, Harper Dill, in our writers' room breakdown.
Editor’s note: The Fourth Wall is a platform for creators, actors, and industry insiders to bring the readers behind the scenes of the production process. In our latest installment, we removed the curtain on the writers’ room for the second season of Fox’s, The Mick.
This part of the walkthrough looks at the tenth episode from The Mick’s second season. Previous installments can be found here. Showrunners Dave and John Chernin are joined by the episode’s writer, Harper Dill.
The Mick Season 2 Episode 10 – “The Climb”
“Sabrina decides to throw a get-together with talented artists in order to impress them. After learning that Ben’s new friend has a celebrity mom who loves art, Mickey decides to co-host the event in order to sway her. Meanwhile, Chip goes on a spontaneous camping trip with Howard.”
Written by Harper Dill; Directed by Amy York Rubin
DEN OF GEEK: A lot of this episode is all about social climbing, with everyone going about it in a different way. Which aspect of this story came together first? Was it the Sabrina material?
JOHN CHERNIN: No, I don’t think so, actually. What we wanted to do here was to tell a story about Mickey having a friend that she thinks is a pain in the ass until she learns that they’re a celebrity. It started first with P. Diddy, but he wasn’t taking our calls so we adjusted accordingly from there.
Well I was going to ask if she was always your first choice here or how her casting came about, but that’s interesting.
JOHN CHERNIN: Yeah, Jennie Garth was also just someone that we all really loved.
DAVE CHERNIN: Once we started talking real names and Jenny’s name came up, she was the one that got us the most excited.
JOHN CHERNIN: She’s also in the Fox family so it was just perfect.
DAVE CHERNIN: The day she came to shoot it was so funny because people on the lot were just like, “Did you know that Jennie Garth is here?”
JOHN CHERNIN: Yeah! The guy at the gate of the lot couldn’t have been more excited that he got to open the gate for Jenny.
The show returns rather quickly to Chip’s biological father, with the two of them going camping no less. Did it make sense to force Chip into some situation where he’s terribly unqualified? Was it always camping?
HARPER DILL: I think it was always camping! We always wanted Howard to be this rugged, outdoorsy man who would be testing products for his company so camping really fit into that. Then it’s funny because it’s obviously something that Chip is so desperately uncomfortable with.
DAVE CHERNIN: What was the hardest situation to put Chip in to prove his worth to his father.
DEN OF GEEK: It feels like Chip’s story in this episode is all about him realizing that he’s more of a Buckley than a Pemberton. Did that feel like an important journey to show here, especially with how it’s so short-lived?
JOHN CHERNIN: Yeah, we always think it’s fun to tear Chip down so we thought that it would be a fun journey to be so out of his element in the woods, but by the end of the episode he’s become this really heroic, capable young man, only to eventually find out that this isn’t his father and all of this is essentially forgotten.
HARPER DILL: Chip desperate to connect with a father figure and consistently failing is equally tragic and entertaining.
There’s also just great chemistry between Chip and Howard. You guys got really lucky there.
DAVE CHERNIN: It’s the greatest! I hope that we can find ways to bring Howard back for many years to come.
All of the Ben and Totsi material is a lot of fun. That image of Totsi’s shaved head is so horrible! Where did that story come from?
DAVE CHERNIN: I think one of the first things that we figured out about this guy is that he was a white kid with dreadlocks. I don’t know, I can’t remember how we got to the act of shaving his head, but it probably had to do with those dreadlocks. Totsi was actually a hard character to write! It took us a while to figure out what makes him tick, why he’s a brat, or what separates him for your typical brats on TV.
JOHN CHERNIN: It was a tough needle to thread because you want him to be really bratty, but he can’t be going out of his way to be a dick. The more oblivious he is to it all, the better.
That ending really has an impact to it. Chip seems to finally connect with Howard and then he learns he’s probably never going to see him again. Did you always know that this Howard angle would be temporary?
JOHN CHERNIN: I think that’s something that Dave and I had talked about for a while. We liked the idea of doing this big misdirect where he realizes that his mom slept around so much that there’d be another person for him to need to get close with in the end.
DAVE CHERNIN: There was something funny to us about a 12-year old bonding with this strange elderly man of which he has no relation.
In the end, Chip gets pushed in yet another direction regarding his real father. Why did you want this to be such a complicated journey for him?
DAVE CHERNIN: It’s funny!
JOHN CHERNIN: Yeah, Chip is a character of ours that is just so unlikable and irredeemable on the surface that this gives us a little more leeway to torture him. I think that’s how that story got started. We wanted to humble chip.
DAVE CHERNIN: It’s a good equalizer because Chip is the most outwardly obnoxious of all of our characters, but at the end of the day how much can you hate a kid who’s just trying to bond with who he thinks is his real father. Then he learns he needs to go through this all again for a third time. That’s heartbreaking, tragic stuff! And then it’s hard to hate that kid, who’s usually this smug, repugnant asshole.
Our walkthrough of The Mick’s second season will continue next week.