When the cast and creative team behind ABC’s hit comedy series Not Dead Yet walked to their seats for their press conference for Television Critics Association journalists Wednesday night, one unannounced participant garnered a smattering of raised eyebrows, smiles, coos, oohs, and ahhs from the reporters as he arrived.
As star Gina Rodriguez energetically marched in front of the show’s Cricket’s Wine Down set on the Fox Studio Lot, she had her 1-year-old son, Charlie, on her hip.
It turns out that Charlie was a secret guest star throughout the first season of the series, which premiered Season 2 on Wednesday night. Rodriguez was pregnant during filming last year.
“Charlie was with us last year, so I thought you guys would all love to meet him,” she told the journalists in attendance, as Charlie squirmed and her Not Dead Yet co-stars giggled. “We wanted to meet all of you and say, tell them: ‘Mommy loves when you watch our TV show. And Mommy thanks you all for supporting our show.’”
Not Dead Yet stars Rodriguez as a newspaper reporter who is assigned to the obituary desk and begins to see the ghosts of the people whose lives she’s writing about. The show, which was ABC’s most-watched comedy launch since The Conners premiered in 2018, juggles the poignance of those supernatural interactions with the wackiness of a cast that includes Rodriguez, Superstore’s Lauren Ash, and, joining for Season 2, Everybody Loves Raymond Emmy-winner Brad Garrett.
The Not Dead Yet press conference echoed that tonal dichotomy, with Garrett periodically transforming the panel into a stand-up comedy set while Rodriguez and her co-stars, at one point, were in tears while talking about the production and the show’s themes.
As Rodriguez’s husband, actor Joe LoCicero, arrived to relieve his wife of Charlie duties—revealing that LoCicero and Charlie were dressed in matching outfits; cue more coos, oohs, and ahhs—she was asked about what the experience has been like shooting the first season of the show while carrying Charlie and then transitioning to Season 2 with him tottering around set.
“Interestingly enough, it is equally as easy, and wonderful, and fun, and challenging, and adventurous as it was first season, having to hide the belly and deal with nausea or exhaustion, or the fact that I was growing exponentially and I was pregnant for two years, and just like a small elephant,” she said. Dean Holland, an executive producer on the show, added that one of the biggest differences in Season 2 is the ability to take advantage of Rodriguez’s physical comedy gifts.
When Rodriguez was asked whether LoCicero would be appearing on Not Dead Yet, as he had in previous projects of hers like Jane the Virgin, the tears came.
“Of course, I’m going to cry [now],” she said, choking up. “Hear they come, the tears. My husband has pushed aside his desires right now to take care of our son, to be on set and allow me to be with my son. So he is all in, and he’s the greatest father ever. Just the best.”
She said the Not Dead Yet creative team wanted to cast him in a guest star role, but LoCicero turned them down so that he could take care of Charlie.
“Just in my journey, so often the [gender] roles were reversed,” she added. “So it’s really empowering. And then I have my in-laws and my parents who are always encouraging me, as much guilt as I go through every morning leaving him, and as much guilt as I go through, feeling like one can’t have it all—somehow, I have all these people helping me make it happen.
“And so,” she continued, “let’s hope he comes on the show. That would be great. But right now, I just watch him every day make such an incredible son, you know, and allow me to do what I love to do.”
As she wiped tears and laughed, she quipped, “Are we all crying now?” Her co-star Ash, sitting next to her and who was visibly choked up, squeaked out a “yes.”
“I guess the hormones aren’t gone,” Garrett joked, cutting through the emotional tension. “I have a question,” he added: “How long will they continue to dress alike? I mean, what the hell is going on?”
Garrett’s ribbing of the cast about the cuteness of Charlie’s scene-stealing appearance was a throughline of the panel. The highlight: his insinuation that, after Not Dead Yet spending a season hiding Rodriguez’s pregnant belly, Season 2’s biggest challenge will be how to disguise his own engorged physical features.
“We’re going to have to work on, if I may, hiding my prostate,” he said. “I’m okay, but it’s the size of a canned ham… And so we’re going to be putting different people in front of me and behind me. And it’s going to look a little bit like the chicken dance.”
“A lot of big purses,” Ash said, keeping the bit going. “It has proven to be quite a challenge,” Holland added, “hiding Brad.”