In the second season of Sara and Erin Foster’s VH1 comedy series Barely Famous, we witness two entitled, beautiful women – named Sara and Erin – hurl themselves through Los Angeles with little care for the pain and confusion they cause others. It’s a faux reality show that takes all the bad and balls it up to throw it back in your face.
So what prompted the daughters of the multi–Grammy-winning music producer David Foster – who has worked with everyone from Chicago and Alice Cooper to Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston – to shine such an unsavory light on themselves and their cohort? Of course they have plenty of inspiration from the fact that their dad has been married to Linda Thompson (who was previously married to Bruce Jenner, now Caitlyn) as well as Yolanda Hadid (who many recognize from her stint on Real Housewife of Beverly Hills, and her famous daughters, Gigi and Bella Hadid).
“When we started developing this idea, I didn’t really ever think we would sell the idea. I didn’t think that it would turn into an actual real show. I had given up,” Erin Foster tells Rolling Stone. “The idea of me writing something that I’d get to be in as well was not what I saw coming. I do think that life works that way. When you kind of let go of something and accept that it hasn’t worked, it takes all the pressure off and then you end up getting it.”
As Barely Famous continues to have the sisters interact in cringey ways with other celebrities (watch out for Kate Hudson’s return), Erin and Sara shared their thoughts on other hilarious women – from Lucille Ball to Lisa Kudrow – and why Larry David would be the ultimate guest star.
I am curious about having a Dad who is in the music industry. Does that change things in any way?
Erin Foster: It’s so funny because I just got off the phone with my Dad, and I was like, “I have to go we’re doing an interview with Rolling Stone.” He’s like, “That’s fucking cool. I’ve never done an interview for Rolling Stone.”
Sara Foster: He hasn’t?
Erin: No he says he never has.
Sara: Aw, you should throw him a bone and call him!
Erin: Our Dad was always like, look if you’re musical, if you live and breathe music and want to play an instrument, that’s not something that’s on me to put on you. If you’re passionate, you will come to my studio every day after school and watch me work because you can’t live without it.
Sara: We had horrible voices. It wasn’t even on the table.
In other interviews that I’ve read, he sounds pretty blunt about the fact that you don’t have it.
Erin: I’ve definitely told the story about me at my piano recital and him coming up to me after and saying, “You don’t have it.” What was happening to me in that moment was I was trying to cater to what I thought my dad wanted from me, which was to be musical. He could see that I wasn’t passionate about it. He was letting me off the hook and saying, “You don’t have the bug, so go do what makes you happy. Don’t waste time trying to do what you think makes me happy. Just do what you love.” That was actually freeing because I stopped trying to connect with him through music.
That’s a great segue to talking to you about funny ladies, because you must be influenced by a few of them. It seems like a great time to be a woman in comedy or do you disagree?
Erin: I do think it’s a great time to be a woman in comedy. Sorry, not trying to cut you off, Sara.
Sara: I’m used to it. It’s OK.
Erin: It’s an amazing time as a female comedian. What’s happening with feminism in general is I think that, as a woman, you’re not limited to being one thing or the other. You can be feminine and sexy and beautiful and hot and funny. I think there was a time in the Gilda Radner days where, if you were really funny, you weren’t also considered a beautiful, feminine woman that guys also wanted to be around. Now Amy Schumer goes, “I don’t give a shit what you guys think is beautiful. I think I’m beautiful and I’m funny.”
Sara: And I think women comedians felt like they always had to kind of stoop down to men’s idea of what’s humorous.
Erin: Yeah that’s the thing: I don’t think as a woman to be funny you have to cater to, like, dude humor. Obviously it’s the Lucille Balls of the world who helped make humor accessible to women and in a voice that women related to. I just wanted to continue that.
Well, let’s talk about Lucille Ball. Do you two have any memories of watching her growing up? Do you think about her kind of brand of humor at all?
Sara: Yeah, I mean, look at I Love Lucy and think about the way that it influenced so many years later what we’re doing today because she played “Lucille Ball.” She was in a show with her husband. They kind of had nods to the camera and to the audience, but no one ever considered it a “reality show.”
But it’s in a similar vein of “meta reality show” in a way because you’re like, “Wait is this Lucy or Lucille?”
Erin: Right, is this how she and Desi really interact with each other? I think it probably was.
Sara: Except you just didn’t see him hitting her on camera. But I mean, it’s a good point because there has been a long line of comedians who play themselves on a show that is taken from their life and then turned into a sitcom. Louis C.K. is another. And Jerry Seinfeld. There’s so many examples, and if it weren’t for shows like that, we wouldn’t be able to do what we are doing today [with Barely Famous].
Erin: I mean we’ve just stolen from a lot of people.
The one that everyone talks about in reference to you two is Lisa Kudrow and The Comeback.
Sara: I was a huge fan of The Comeback Season 1, and I think what we’ve pulled from that is the celebrity and Hollywood feel of it, like an Entourage. Feeling the awkwardness between takes. Having her say something to the camera and then the producer say, “We really you need to say that one more time but just seem excited about it.” And she’s saying, “Wait, you want me to seem excited about saying that I got replaced on the show?” Just the way the awkwardness that happens, the way the producers kind of manipulate casts. That was something we really wanted to pull from because they did it so flawlessly.
I know you’ve resisted being on a reality show, although you know people who have been, and a lot of people think of it as: “Oh I don’t have to actually work, I can just be me or a version of me and do this fake thing and get famous.” Why did you avoid doing that?
Sara: There’s so many different versions of a reality show. When I think about a reality show, I think about the Kardashians. I think about the Housewives. I think about people who are having their lives and their real interactions filmed. The notion of putting my true self out there, interacting with loved ones and friends for the world to see and for my grandchildren to see … I’m talking about the reality shows where people go and essentially eat salad for a living.
Erin: Also I think that when you come from a big family like we did, and you have a successful parent and that person is married to someone who is also in the limelight and connected to other famous people, I think that you get to a point where you start to say, “OK, I want my family to define me and how I represent myself to the world is being associated with these people.”
Another woman who came to mind is Casey Wilson. She and her funny female friends have spoofed The Housewives franchises with The Real Hot Wives of Orlando and Las Vegas.
Erin: I really like Casey Wilson. I’ve watched her a bunch. I think she’s really funny. I haven’t seen that show, but it sounds really funny. Social media and reality TV has become such a huge part of everyone’s culture. Even for people who don’t watch it, they’re aware of it. I think that it’s really cut through all parts of our culture at this point. I think we are right on time for parodying it and satirizing it. It makes sense that there are so many shows happening like that.
You’ve invited people like Kate Hudson and Nicole Richie and others who have either have been part of these types of shows or are used to what happens in Los Angeles. Are people worried that you’re making fun of them at all?
Erin: It’s never as awkward as people think it is because you don’t watch our show and walk away going, “Oh, Kim Kardashian is going to be pissed about that episode.” No one’s ever been offended. We managed season one to have me dating a guy in a wheelchair just to look like a good person and still not offend anyone. We had Sara dressing up like the caricature of a lesbian and no lesbians were offended. In some ways, by parodying what these two girls would think lesbians would dress like, we’re essentially on lesbians’ side, if that makes sense.
Do you have any dream people that you’d like to cast for the next season?
Erin: We always talk that the dream guest would be Larry David. I think he’s really the kind of this genre. I think having him come and do our show is like in a sense him endorsing the show. That would just be the ultimate compliment.
Sara: I don’t think he knows we’re alive. I think if he saw us, he wouldn’t.
Erin: I saw him once at a Halloween party and, like, hovered in front of him, but he didn’t say anything so I kept walking.
What was it like being at a Halloween party with Larry David? Did you feel like you had to have jokes ready?
Sara: I stared at him a lot, but I never got within 20 feet of him.
Erin: Yeah, I would be really intimidated.
Sara: I don’t remember what costume he was wearing. He looked like himself. He was wearing, like, a sign around his neck and I don’t remember–
Erin: He was wearing a sign around his neck. I remember that. I don’t remember what it said.
Maybe it read: I’m Larry David?
Sara: [Laughs] It probably said that.
Do you remember what you were dressed as?
Erin: Oh, I was dressed as Taylor Swift fresh off a break up with tear streaks down my face.
Do you think this show is specifically trying to skewer L.A. types of people? The sorts of people that you guys have run-ins with?
Erin: We tried to create scenarios that are relatable problems in relatable situations. So you might not relate to dating Zach Braff and sleeping with a valet guy and sabotaging it, but you will relate to being in a relationship with a really great guy who loves you and wants to be with you and that being too hard to handle because you have low self-esteem, so you have sex with a loser at a bar and you ruined everything.
So, one last thing: We’ve talked about famous blonde and redheaded women who are famous for their comedy. Neither one of you were blond growing up. But you’re very blond now. Can you tell me what that means to you as women?
Sara: That’s a good point.
Erin: I was born blonde but became a brunette and then I had red hair. I dyed my hair red for, like, six years because I was trying so hard to be “interesting” and different and unique, and I thought having red hair would do that for me. Then one day, Sara looked at me and she was like, “Erin you need to stop trying so hard to be something you’re not and just be blonde. I promise you, It’s going to make you happy.” I did it, and I swear to God, it did make me happy. I’ll tell you why.
Sara never went through an awkward phase, but I really believe that what you resist persists. I was so afraid for so long of being put in a category of, like, spoiled brat, rich blonde actress in L.A. and that being not interesting. I tried really hard to be something different, and it wasn’t until I let it go and stopped caring what everyone thought of me and started creating this show about two delusional, entitled girls – which was my biggest fear that anyone would ever think that that’s what I was – that I became someone who was taken seriously. I think you have to embrace things and turn them around instead of running from them.
Sara: I just went blonde because I didn’t think my face was pretty enough to be a brunette. I just wanted to show some highlights around my face and you know what? It brightened that face up. I gotta be honest: I was happy.
Erin: It’s not as deep for Sara.