Two Independent, Single Moms Are "Enough" To Lead A Family Sitcom, Says 'Raven's Home' Star Anneliese van der Pol
Anneliese van der Pol, aka the hilarious Robin to Raven-Symoné's Batman, is making her way back to the small screen, reprising her role as Chelsea Daniels on the That's So Raven reboot series, Raven's Home. The revival picks up a number of years after That's So Raven ended, and follows Raven and Chelsea as they navigate their new lives as divorced moms living under the same roof... without a male lead. In an interview, van der Pol tells Bustle that she's particularly proud of the way that the new show celebrates women and single mothers.
"I'm really proud to be doing this with Ray," van der Pol says. "I think it is very rare that you see two mothers on a show, leading a half-hour sitcom with children, and that's it. You don't have a guy, you know, coming in saving the day with all the funny lines. It's me and Ray and I think that's enough."
This outcome contrasts with a recent audition van der Pol has for a more typical, male-centered sitcom that ended up not going her way. However, the actor tells me she wasn't discouraged and took it as a sign that she was meant to return to a character and cast she adored, doing a show with a bigger purpose and message.
"We're representing single women in America who either live together because they need to for financial necessities or not," she says. "You know, I think this is a really great situation and real, and these mothers need to be represented, and I'm so glad to be doing that."
The show will focus on Symoné and van der Pol's characters, who are now full-fledged adults, raising their children (two for Raven and one for Chelsea) together under one crazy roof. Van der Pol promises that viewers can expect the same hilarious high-jinx that That's So Raven was known for (remember the Parmesan Cheese wheel in the air duct episode?), but also some more emotional and family-oriented moments.
"I think it's a really polished, good-looking sitcom that is well-rounded and can be emotional at times and, you know, hit you right in the jugular," van der Pol says, "but also hits in the jugular in a funny way right behind it."
Talks about getting the gang back together began about a year ago and when van der Pol first got wind of the plan, she thought it was just too good to be true. Van der Pol tells me about the moment when Symoné gave her word that it was actually happening, and says she cried tears of joy, because she knew that she would be back with her family again.
Van der Pol explains that her and Symoné stayed the closest out of all the cast members over the years, and she's excited to be able to work with her again because they are already so comfortable with one another.
"She really is a comic genius and I'd like to think of myself as a comic something, so it's kind of just a real pride for me to work with somebody who gets me immediately," van der Pol says.
Raven's Home may be the spinoff that all Disney kids desperately wanted, but when That's So Raven originally ended back in 2007, van der Pol didn't think that a revival was possible. There had already been one spinoff (you can't forget about Cory In The House) and at the time, reboots and revivals were not in fashion.
"Spinoffs like Fuller House, Will and Grace, and Rosanne, and all of these things that are happening now... weren’t as popular back then," van der Pol says. "This was shocking but I’d say in the last year... seeing all these shows happen, I thought Disney would be stupid really not to do this."
Van der Pol has kept busy in the 10 years since That's So Raven wrapped up, focusing most of her attention on theater, starring in off-Broadway productions and shows all across the country. Even though she ventured away from the television world, she never lost touch with her That's So Raven co-stars. She's kept up with all of your favorite cast members, such as Rondell Sheridan, who played Raven's dad; Orlando Brown, who was 1/3 of one of Disney Channel's most iconic friendship trios; and of course, Symoné herself.
Van der Pol doesn't know if any other of the original cast members will make appearances on the new spinoff but says she would love for everyone to come back. And there's one group in particular that she (and the rest of America) hopes will makes an appearance: the Boys In Motion.
If the Boys In Motion do appear on Raven's Home, they'll be catching up with two independent women. Anneliese van der Pol wants you to recognize the same old Raven and Chelsea, but in very different — and progressive — single mom circumstances.