As women, we have certainly made a lot of progress over the years, but that doesn't change the fact that we have been fighting misogyny and sexism all throughout history. That should always be maddening as hell, and yet the third season of Comedy Central's Another Period somehow manages to make you laugh both at and with the Bellacourt sisters Lillian (Natasha Leggero) and Beatrice (Riki Lindhome) as they fight blatant misogyny and sexism ... over 100 years ago. The brilliant reality show parody (think Keeping Up With the Kardashians meets Downton Abbey) about the greedy, new money Newport royal family is back, and while the series has always joked about women's issues before, the timing of the new season couldn't be more prescient. And somehow, Lillian and Beatrice have gotten more progressive than ever in their fight against historical sexism.
An early Season 3 episode tackles the Olympics, which is timely in and of itself as the PyeongChang Winter Games are only a few weeks away. But Another Period manages to bring in a whole other level to the storyline surrounding Lillian and Beatrice that hits you right in the gut out of nowhere. When the Olympics come to Newport, Lillian and Beatrice are overjoyed when it's announced that women can compete in archery for the first time alongside the men. The men are absolutely shocked and disgusted at this turn of events, as "women's archery" isn't even "a thing." The episode then becomes a brutal takedown of toxic masculinity and internet trolls, all set in the early 1900s. There may not have been internet back then, but oh, there were trolls. There were trolls, indeed.
"We always wanted to do the Olympics," Leggero tells Bustle on set back on a sunny March day. The cast and crew just took a break for lunch, and she and Lindhome are taking a quick break in the shade. Wearing all those period costume layers in the Los Angeles heat is not easy. "Every year we pitched that idea and this year we finally got to do the Olympics."
Leggero and Lindhome were inspired by Gamergate, when female video game journalists were harassed and doxxed by bitter male online trolls, as well as the ridiculous outcry against the all-female Ghostbusters reboot back in 2016. "After Gamergate and the insanity around Ghostbusters and just hearing people get so upset about it, we just thought that was so funny," Leggero says. "We thought that related so well to women who blazed the way to do sports back then. It actually did happen in 1904."
One of the very first women's Olympics team was for archery (as well as tennis and golf), and it's safe to say that the introduction of females into the Olympic games was not a smooth transition. Without the internet to air their grievances, Another Period's men take to trolling the females in person. It's somehow both hilarious and gut wrenchingly all too real as they mix old-school bullying with modern harassment. Thinking back to that first women's Olympics team, Lindhome laughs at how "more than a few people didn't like it, so we just imagined what it would have been like."
"This moment wasn't some huge shift with the Olympics but it started there," Lindhome adds of why this Olympics story was so important to feature on Another Period. And in their signature brand of delightfully weird, the creators also managed to work in a storyline about young Adolf Hitler being a sweet, artistic boy who just wants to paint flowers and can't stomach the thought of violence or death. "He's actually related to Victor [Brian Huskey], my ex-husband," Leggero says with a laugh. "So I guess he's like my ex-nephew. Hitler's my ex-nephew!"
While Bustle's visit to the Another Period set came only a few short months after Donald Trump's inauguration, nearly a year later, the insanity surrounding the presidency hasn't slowed down. If anything, it's only gotten worse, and Another Period has had to adjust accordingly.
"We were about seven and a half weeks in [of a total of 10-12 weeks of the writers room] when Trump became president and we were writing for a Clinton presidency," Lindhome says. "And then we were just thrown for a loop. We had a couple weeks to adjust."
Leggero adds that the end of the writers room for Season 3 took on quite a different mood after the election. "We had like two weeks where we were all very despondent and depressed and where no one could do anything," she says. "And then we moved on to the actual writing of the show." But Lindhome adds that, "right after the election, it felt a little hopeless."
"And then as we've come to terms with things more, it feels important to make this show and make comedy for everyone," Lindhome says. "It feels like a nice escape and we're making parallels with our show to today. It's a fun way to make political points we feel strongly about."
Leggero jokes that she "can't talk about this subject," but can't deny the connections to the fictional Bellacourts and the first family. "[Another Period] is about America, it's an American story about an American family, but 100 years ago, and yet there are so many similarities in rich people now," she says. "We have come full circle. They didn't pay income tax at the turn of the century, and now they still don't pay income tax. They paid it for a while and now rich people have figured it out."
Lindhome adds while rolling her eyes, "Our president doesn’t pay income tax."
"Right?!" Leggero says with a big laugh. "I think it's very relatable even though it's from a different era. Downton Abbey is such a British story; I didn't think people really knew that America had its own version. You can go to Newport now and still see it. It's still there. It's amazing."
"It's like the new money version of Downton," Lindhome says with a laugh. Upstairs/downstairs comedy, Olympics and smashing the patriarchy ... what more do you need?