What really happens after college? MTV’s new show Underemployed is a pretty accurate depiction: a glamorous career selling doughnuts (giant sprinkled doughnut headband and all), serving hors d'oeuvres in your underwear and possibly even kicking butt in a prestigious ad firm… without pay.
Creator Craig Wright was on point when he dreamed up Underemployed. After viewing an advanced screening of the show, I felt as if he’d followed me around and taken notes on my own recent post-graduate struggle. Though Wright is obviously successful (he’s an Emmy-nominated producer), he’s no stranger to the ridiculous job market that Millennials face. “It’s a world where unpaid internships are advertised as the new glamour jobs, terrible bosses abound, and romantic miscues and changing relationships are a day-to-day occurrence,” Wright says. “This show is especially dear to my heart since it’s based on my own son Louis and his friends, all of whom have recently graduated from college and are now facing the challenges of entering the real world for the first time.”
We interviewed Jared Kusnitz, who plays Lou (an environmentalist forced to take a job at his dad’s notoriously toxic chemical plant after his ex-girlfriend shows up on his doorstep nine months’ pregnant… now that’s a handful). Lou’s a showcase for the classic graduate situation, forced to trade in those change-the-world-dreams for something a little more feasible. “He has to find the balance between being a father and not letting go of his dreams,” Kusnitz says. “While Lou's struggle is very specific, I think the audience can relate to him easily if they've ever had to put aside their dreams and take a job because they have to, not because they want to.”
Kusnitz has had his fair share of fame, appearing in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Prom, Community and Surviving Surburbia, to name a few, but even he says the show’s plot isn’t far from his reality. “Being an actor is not all fun and games,” he says. “We're unemployed the majority of the time and we face a lot of rejection on a daily basis. I definitely tapped into that when bringing Lou to life.”
Something viewers will notice from the very opening scene is an undeniable chemistry between the cast of these five jaded post-grads. Though they’re young, broke and live in a lackluster world career-wise, every other area of their lives is bursting at the seams with energy. While on-screen chemistry is often a product of pure talent, Kusnitz attributes the cast’s harmony to their relationships off-camera. “We hang out all the time and go to the movies or dinner or just chill at one of our places,” he says. “We became a fast family, and we're all so unique and we inspire each other. I have four best friends both on-screen and off.”
And you’re going to see things get steamy with fellow castmate Inbar Lavi, who plays Lou’s girlfriend (and, er, baby momma?) Raviva. “[She] is a lovely soul, and not to mention an exotic beauty, so doing a romantic scene with her is very comfortable,” he says. “Scenes with her don't feel like work, and I think the audience is going to fall in love with Lou and Raviva as a result. I've definitely fallen in love with her… as a friend.”
Kusnitz says he and Lou are alike in that they “both wear their hearts on their sleeves,” but there is one big difference between the two. “I actually did not go to college,” he says, “and I'm okay with it because education is always available. I do have plans to take some courses soon though, but the timing just hasn't worked out.”
For those of you who find yourself weeping in front of the television because the show is, indeed, your current life situation, Kusnitz comes equipped with some hopeful advice. “My advice is keep pushing through,” he says. “Keep fighting for your dreams even if you have to take a few shitty jobs along the way. Never let anything stand between you and your goal.” And, another dose of the dreamer in Kusnitz. “Clichè as it is, life inspires me. Our time is so short so there's no sense in just letting it slip by.
If you’re constantly flipping through the channels looking for something a little more down-to-earth and realistic to watch, Underemployed is your show. It premieres on October 16 on MTV at 10/9c.