Casey Wilson: Penny For Your Thoughts

Happy Endings scene-stealer Casey Wilson chats about crashing lesbian communes, sharing scenes with Barbra Streisand in The Guilt Trip, and a circle of friends that’s “fifty shades of gay.”



After grabbing our attention during her brief stint on Saturday Night Live, Casey Wilson won our hearts as peppy but perpetually single Penny Hartz on ABC’s Happy Endings, which returns October 23 for a third season. You’ll be happy to learn that the 31-year-old screenwriter and Upright Citizens Brigade alum is just as ah-mah-zing as her characters.

The Advocate: My first question is this: Can we be best friends?

Casey Wilson: My first answer is yes.

I’m guessing you get friendship proposals from gay men all the time.

A lot more than any kind of proposals from straight men, and that’s just the way I like it. It’s very sweet. I mean, you can’t always tell if someone’s gay over Twitter, but when he’s talking to you about Real Housewives, it’s probably OK to assume.

Before Happy Endings, your SNL characters included quadriplegic stripper Dusty Velvet and Cougar Den cohost Toni Ward. Were you conscious of gay fans even then?

I was, actually. I didn’t have the greatest ride on SNL, but I always felt support from gay fans, which made me feel accepted within a place I didn’t feel totally accepted.

What is it about Penny that’s resonated with the LGBT audience?

I don’t know, but I’m so thankful. She’s got a lot of energy, she’s very positive, she’s so unafraid of putting herself out there, and she’s running a million miles in the wrong direction. She’s someone you can laugh at but also love. But I think a line from the first season sums it up: She’s almost like the group’s “offensively stereotypical gay guy.”

In real life you’ve said that you’re obsessed with Kris Jenner’s autobiography, you host Real Housewives viewing parties, and your favorite show is The Comeback. Are you also a stereotypical gay guy?

Well, when you synthesize my interests like that, all signs do point to it.

Adam Pally plays Penny’s best friend Max, a gay character who’s anything but stereotypical.

Yeah, I think TV was the last place to catch on that representing people as they are is so much more refreshing. Max is gay, but he’s also annoying, a slob, and whatever, because you can be gay and also a million other things. It’s the right time to be telling the truth with characters on TV, and it feels great to be a part of that.

Pally told The Advocate that, regardless of whom his character inspires or offends, his goal is to be as funny as possible. Is that of utmost importance?

I think that’s what people respect. There are sometimes concerns about being respectful with a gay character, and you either end up with a tiptoeing quality or an all-out cliché. It’s great that we’ve pushed past that to just create a hilarious character, gay or not. My mom’s brother was gay, and he actually passed away from AIDS when I was 13. He was quite a character, but he also worked at the electrical plant, so he was this complicated guy with a big laugh who would wear a trucker hat and do impressions. He was gay, but to me Uncle Alan was just the funniest person in the world.