No one could ever accuse actress Patricia Heaton of slowing down and taking it easy. If she did, of course, it would be perfectly understandable when you consider that she spent nine years from 1996 to 2005 playing Debra Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond (for which she took home a pair of Emmy Awards in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series), and another nine as Francis “Frankie” Heck on The Middle from 2009 to 2018. Well, she’s wasting no time getting ready to jump back into the sitcom saddle yet again with the brand new series, Carol’s Second Act.
Like Raymond, this show will be a three-camera series shot in front of a studio audience (which The Middle was not). In Carol’s Second Act, Patricia, 60, plays Carol Chambers, who has spent a good portion of her life working as a teacher and raising two children, and is looking for change. She finds it, big time, when she decides that she’s going to become a doctor.
During the eighth season of The Middle, Patricia was interviewed by Christianity Today and asked about what she draws upon as an actress and what serves as inspiration to her. “The Middle has been really challenging for me, because it’s single camera,” she explains. “With Raymond, it was like putting on a little play every week. Everything went in order. There’s an audience. The Middle is all out of order, you’re only present for your scenes. There’s no audience. You don’t see what else is going on. I’m still learning after eight years, still toying, fiddling with how to approach it. The lack of stability is actually a great way to live, because you’re fooling yourself if you think anything in life is stable. People take things for granted and are shocked when things are taken away from them. I learned that early on when my mother passed away.”
“Inspiration,” she adds, “is my excuse for watching a ton of TV. I love watching performances that inspire me, and it’s fun to show my kids some of the movies that I love. I just watched Ordinary People for the umpteenth time. That movie holds up on every level. It’s so moving and profound [on themes of] grief, suffering family loss, and how particular family members deal with it.”
Carol’s Second Act is created by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins, who most recently created the sitcom Trophy Wife. Patricia will also be serving as an executive producer of the show. CBS has given a series commitment rather than waiting for a pilot to be shot before making a decision.