When Suburgatory premiered, Parker Young‘s Ryan Shay was a typical jock famous for his sensuous, shirtless car washes. But in season two, the character revealed a hidden depth through an oddly paired relationship with Tessa Altman (played by Jane Levy). ScreenCrave recently spoke to Young about Ryan’s interesting transition, bumpy romance and Fox’s military-themed pilot Enlisted.
How do you feel when you hear/read that you’re one of the best parts of Suburgatory ?
Parker Young: It feels really nice to hear. I’m a big fan of the show and I love the storylines that Ryan was given this year; all of the adoption stuff and the storyline with him and Tessa. People who follow me on Twitter sometimes tell me they get bummed when I’m not in an episode, but I’m not a regular like other characters. Still, there’s no opportunity to be disappointed. But it’s awesome. I love being on the show.
He’s not your typical jock. When you first got the part, did you think he was just another athlete bully?
Parker Young: I did. I had that reaction. But I got the role and my main goal was to make sure he wasn’t a dumb jock. I was a jock in high school and I don’t see this group of guys as such – dumb, layer-less muscle men.
Still, Ryan and Tessa are polar opposites. Why is she so attracted to him?
Parker Young: It’s a very interesting relationship because it doesn’t really make sense on paper. They just seem so opposite. I think that’s why it started to work so well because they compliment each other in a beautiful way. They bring completely different things to the table. At first it was just a physical attraction, which quickly grew to more for Ryan. He knew from the beginning that there was something about this girl. He just loved her. She was a little bit more guarded. She was less willing to admit that she could find love in a place like this, especially with a guy like this. She just would never have seen herself with him. But when you get to know Ryan you realize that he has such a big heart, and that’s what she needs – love and compassion.
A few episodes ago it seemed like Ryan and Tessa were going to break up. Many thought he was cheating on her, did you?
Parker Young: I didn’t think Ryan was cheating on her. I just didn’t think he had it in him. I assumed that she was mistaken. Surely thereafter someone told me not to worry.
We then found out that Ryan was actually visiting colleges. How will that affect his relationship with her?
Parker Young: It’s tough. I think he’s willing to go to college. She knows what’s best for him and she wants that for him. Part of love is to be willing to let go a little bit, and I think that she’s going to encourage him to go to college. How long he stays, I don’t know. Maybe he goes and finds that it’s not for him and wants to be back with her. Maybe she comes to him. Maybe they decide they’ll get back together in a couple of years when they’ve both grown up. I don’t see him being able to forget about her that easily.
He did say that he wouldn’t let his “perfectly chiseled physique” come between them.
Parker Young: Yeah, he also said he’s going to stay in Chatswin and get fat with her [laughs].
It’s always hard when characters go off to college. We’ve seen on shows like Glee and Gossip Girl that it’s a tricky transition.
Parker Young: I wish I had a little crystal ball to dissect Emily Kapnek‘s head. She is such a genius. She really is. I have faith that no matter what she’s going to continue to poke out an amazing story. So many of the episodes fall on holidays and other special days, and those would probably be times that Ryan would be home for a visit. The rest of the year is for the girls to figure out college, and I think there’s still a lot of great stuff that could happen with the kids on this show. I wouldn’t even worry.
You’re used to comedy by now, but you’ve also dabbled in some drama. Which do you prefer?
Parker Young: I think originally when I wanted to get into this, I didn’t imagine myself being in comedy. But now that it’s happened this way, and this is what I’ve spent most of my time on, I love it. It’s so much fun. The whole process is so much fun, and it makes work such a joy. It’s a very fun process and environment when you’re on set. Dramas are great, but they’re definitely different.
When you’re doing comedy you know when it’s funny because people are laughing. When you’re doing a drama, you don’t really have the immediate feedback because you do it and then you have to move on. There’s no laughter or anything. It’s just a serious face/tone. It’s harder to judge the effectiveness of material or how it’s coming off. Long story short, I love comedy right now, but I’m excited to, at some point, transition away from comedy a bit. Like Will Smith doing Fresh Prince, and then bringing his comedic sensibilities to Men In Black and stuff like that.
Comedy’s pretty hard. It’s so challenging to make people laugh.
Parker Young: People say that it’s a lot harder to laugh than to cry. Doing a comedy is very difficult. I got lucky with really good material. I have a good understanding of the characters that I’m playing and they just come sort of naturally. Also, I just have way too much energy. Like there’s the example of the car scene from season one. I could’ve just washed the car normally, but with comedy you have to ignore that voice inside your head that tells you you’re going to look like an idiot, and just go for it to the fullest. I’m shirtless, washing the car with my butt. It’s just ridiculous. It’s embarrassingly ridiculous, but because it pushes that threshold, it becomes comedic.
What’s it like to work with such funny people?
Parker Young: My parents on the show Ana Gasteyer and Chris Parnell are just geniuses. They worked together on SNL. Jeremy Sisto comes from less of a comedic background, but he’s hilarious. I’ve learned so much from everybody. I wish I could break it down and say what it is that makes these people funny, but that would be impossible.
What’s coming up for Ryan and Tessa?
Parker Young: There’s a string of episodes that I’m not in. The next two or so, and then Ryan’s back for the last three or four. There’s just so many storylines so they just have to focus on other people. Ryan’s probably just training for football or something. He’s in Chatswin, he’s just doing other stuff. But I can’t even comment on what the other episodes are about because I don’t even remember since I’m not in them.
What’s next for you? Anything in the near future?
Parker Young: I’m actually shooting a pilot for FOX called Enlisted. It’s a single-camera comedy. It’s about three brothers in the army. They’re stationed at a base in Florida. I’m the youngest brother. We’re sort of misfits who aren’t ready to be shipped out. It’s centered on our life at the base, training and preparing, battling in war games and trying to get ready to go overseas. I’m fine because I get to drive a 42 ton tank around and stuff like that. It’s fun.
Suburgatory airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.
Photo Credit: Lesley Bryce