Stars Dax Shepard, Lake Bell talk new ABC sitcom 'Bless This Mess'

NEW YORK -- Only about 1,200 miles separate New York from Nebraska, but the Cornhusker State is a world away that a husband and wife discover when they try to make a home there in the new ABC comedy "Bless This Mess."

It's what Hollywood likes to call a "fish-out-of-water" story, about a couple from New York City who inherits a derelict home in Nebraska.

"We just really want to get our hands dirty," Lake Bell's character explains to one of her new neighbors, who asks point blank, "You couldn't get your hands dirty in New York?"

"You can," Bell's character replies. "But it's more like 'I-just-touched-my-hand-to-a-subway-pole-and-rubbed-my-eye-and-now-I-have-pink-eye' kind of dirty."

Stars Bell and Dax Shepard have each experienced what it means to travel out of their comfort zone in real life.

"I moved from downtown Detroit to Santa Barbara, so that was huge culture shock," Shepard said. "To go to the grocery store and everybody is well-dressed, or dressed. And, you know, no one's fighting out in the street."

Bell, who is from New York City, went to school in England.

"Being the only American in my college, and they were just really disappointed in me always," she said. "Because they were saying, 'I just really don't understand why you don't have a mafia accent.' They wanted me to be part of the mafia."

Bell didn't know any Goodfellas. She grew up on the Upper East Side.

Years later, it occurred to her that, "cultural, fish-out-of-water, stories are very relatable," which is why she and her writing partner Liz Meriwether created "Bless This Mess."

It is a natural evolution for a performer who has been working behind the camera for half a dozen years.

"This was definitely the first time and the first experience that I had the kind of budget from a directing standpoint to actually do things I'd never done before," she said.

I asked Bell if she thinks there are more opportunities for female writer/directors now than six years ago when she started.

"There's a huge tide," she said. "I don't think the tipping point has quite happened, but I think we're absolutely at the foothills of it. And that is exciting."

The series premiere of "Bless This Mess" drew about 5 million viewers and found favor with most critics.

Extended interview with Lake Bell:
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Jennifer Matarese interviews Lake Bell about her new comedy on ABC.