Martin Freeman thinks Breeders, the show seen by some as a guide on parenting, is right to end after the upcoming Season 4.
The show, which has always been an unflinching portrayal of raising kids, returns to FX on Monday, July 31, with a 10 episode run which will wrap up the family’s story.
Martin Freeman co-created and stars in Breeders alongside his onscreen wife Daisy Haggard, with their characters Paul and Ally, respectively, enduring plenty of ups and downs throughout their marriage.
FX invited Newsweek to the set of Breeders in North London, England, where we spoke to Freeman and Haggard about their journey with the show.
‘The Non-Instagram Version of Parenting’In early May 2023, the cast and crew of Breeders were filming some emotional scenes at The Hare & Hounds pub in Leyton, a suburb of London. We won’t disclose the details of the scenes being shot on the day because the content was from the later episodes of the season, but we can say there are some big changes for every member of the family coming in Season 4 of Breeders.
Throughout the show we’ve seen Paul (Freeman) and Ally (Haggard) manouver raising their kids and dealing with them at different ages. The show has never shied away from how frustrating a task that can be.
“Lots of people have said to me, ‘I don’t feel bad for the way I’ve shouted at my kids now,'” Freeman told Newsweek, discussing the audience reaction to Breeders.
Martin Freeman and Daisy Haggard posing in a promotional shot for “Breeders” Season 4. The final season airs on FX on July 31, 2023.
“It was never explicitly meant to be a public service announcement or anything, but I did always hope that it would ‘start a conversation,'” he said wryly, cursing himself for using the term. “I hadn’t seen this in a comedic setting before, I really hadn’t, ever. Not people who really f****** digging in at their kids. Rather than ‘Oh, Michael, stop that,'” he mimics a calmer display of parenting.
“I’ve seen s*** loads of that. And I knew it wasn’t true. Not everyone is going to their kids, but a lot of people do. At some point, you’re going to scream at your f****** kids and they’re quite right to.
“On the one hand we make a big deal about emotional honesty, but on the other hand we’re terrified of the idea that there should be real conflict in a family right between a parent and their child.”
For anyone who’s not familiar with Breeders, Freeman assures us it’s not all doom and gloom. He summarized it best as “they’re a very loving family, they’re a functional family, who swear sometimes.”
In both the U.K. and the U.S., Breeders has found a passionate fanbase. One that lets its stars know how meaningful they find the show when given the chance.
“You do get messages saying, ‘Thank you,’ ‘I feel seen,’ and then they’ll say, ‘Thank you for confirming that I should never have children,'” Haggard told Newsweek.
In Seasons 1-3, parents Paul and Ally went through major ups and downs as a couple, with results often defying the convention of a traditional TV family drama or comedy.
“It’s a non-Instagram version of parenting. And it’s a real slice of what it is to be in a life, which means that the people that really like it really like it. So you feel good because we’re helping with the balance of all the other s*** they’re getting.”
She continued: “A relationship is loving but complicated, and hot and cold, and good and bad, and real.”
Why ‘Breeders’ Is Ending Now”This show started as a fairly small show in the way that it’s our two little kids, it was quite contained, but now with the additions and relationships with everybody has grown out like a tree,” Freeman told Newsweek, reflecting on the origins of Breeders to the hit it is now.
A show about the lives of a family could conceivably run and run, but Freeman, who came up with the story for Breeders back in 2018, said he’d always had an end point in mind.
The cast and crew posing for a photograph on the day Newsweek came for a set visit in May 2023, at The Hare & Hounds pub in North London, England. Stars Daisy Haggard and Martin Freeman can be seen in the center of the group.
“It’s been a little bit of laying the tracks in front of the train, but we always knew we wanted to end with Luke being 18-years-old and Ava, 16. But another series has snuck in there [from the original plan],” Freeman said.
“I really believe in things being finite and not staying past its welcome, whether that’s a TV show or a band or anything. I think just quit while you’re ahead and while you’ve got something to say,” Freeman continued. “For me, this feels like a nice circular point. Our kids have gotten to an age where we can let them fly the nest and that just feels like a good time.”
Freeman’s co-creators of the show are British comedian Chris Addison and comedy writer Simon Blackwell. “I don’t think they knew exactly how it would end but you can feel they’ve written it with the actors of the characters in mind which is really lovely,” Haggard said. “Think most good character driven shows, you might have an idea of where you’ll end up but you allow the characters to sort of take you on a journey too.”
Haggard didn’t think she’d take on the three-year journey which has been Breeders, admitting to Newsweek, with Freeman sitting next to her, that she genuinely didn’t think she’d get the part.
“We saw a lot of very good actresses for this,” Freeman said. “I read with several good people who did really good auditions but there was just something about Daisy that nicked it.”
“I didn’t think I’d get it. I don’t think I’ll get most things. That’s quite a good way to live, it’s much better than thinking you’re going to win all the time. For the audition I’d just had a baby, and I was really kind of grumpy and I didn’t know my lines, and I didn’t know how to put makeup on, but that was very right for the moment I suppose,” Haggard said.
“Everyone in our world knows what Daisy can do, and I know that it comes with no cost, but that’s not always the case. I like actors a lot and most actors are a pretty decent bunch, but occasionally, there can be a bit of a cost to someone being around,” Freeman said. He laughed but refused when Newsweek asked him to call out the actors that “come with a cost.”
Leaving ‘Breeders’As Paul and Ally’s kids fly the nest, Breeders will be flying FX’s nest too, but Freeman hopes that the show will live on and be found by future audiences as a complete story.
Filming for Season 4 began in early March, as suggested by Haggard’s Instagram picture she posted of herself and Freeman posing by the River Thames in London. It was all over almost three months later as she and Freeman posed in Malta.
Now that filming for the fourth season is finished, Freeman and Haggard picked out their lasting memories from their time on Breeders.
“For me, it’s that first scene in my head that I conceived for the show to exist where Paul screams at his kids. I was with the two actors George [Wakeman] and Jayda [Eyles], I told them ‘listen I’m gonna shout but jut so you know we’re messing about. It’s all pretend I’m not really mad at you, and as soon as it’s over we can go back to messing around and having fun.’ They were so excited to be shouted at, but, and I won’t say which one, one of them was great but the other one was really really really really upset and we had to console them,” Freeman recalled.
Haggard’s lasting memory also comes from Season 1: “For me the thing that is always in my head is the first season. I think because I was living it out at the same time, so and I had just had a baby and wasn’t sleeping, and I had a three year old was the whole passive aggressive [cough medicine] chat in the very first episode. I’ll never forget that because it was just the same conversation that I’d go home and have every night when a child cried. So I think that just stays really heavily in my head. Not to say there hasn’t been more significant moments since just that sort of sums up Breeders for me.”
The fourth and final season of FX’s Breeders premieres on Monday, July 31 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX and streams the following day on Hulu.
Source : Newsweek