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“Dax and I were fellow parents who dropped off our kids at the same preschool,” Bell, 40, tells The Post. “We were friendly; I was friendly with his wife <‘The Good Place’ star Kristen Bell, no relation>. He expresses it that we were the only actors at that drop off, so we’d some kind of familial nod, like ‘you do acting, too.’ We’ve become super tight, we’re definitely of like comedy minds.”
Now in its second season (Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.), “Bless This Mess” follows former New York couple Rio (Bell) and Mike (Shepard) as they move to a Nebraska farm they inherited from Mike’s great aunt. Comedy hijinks ensue as this city-slicker couple acclimates to country life and the quirky residents of Bucksnort, Nebraska.
Season 2 has been a success, averaging 4 million viewers an episode and expanding to 20 episodes where Season 1 had six. Bell — who has a varied resume from “ER” to the “Wet Hot American Summer” franchise — co-created the show with Elizabeth Meriwether (“New Girl”).
“She’s in the writers’ room and I’m on set being the creative executive producer and eyes and ears of the shooting,” she says. “I’m the onset
While the season has included amusing scenarios for Mike and Rio, such as a misunderstanding about the role of Halloween in their relationship (he mistakenly thinks she loves getting scared and therefore considers it a loving tradition; she doesn’t have the heart to tell him she hates it), Bell says the writers want to focus on giving more attention to the supporting cast, including David Koechner, Langston Kerman, JT Neal, Ed Begley Jr, and Pam Grier.
“I’ve fallen in love with this town of people. In the writers’ room we really do try to expand to include the comedy geniuses that are our supporting cast,” she says. “You do have this incredible opportunity when you’re creating a show to build your own family. With a TV show, you’re hunkering down, you don’t know how long it’s going to be.”
It helps that the set is in an idyllic location — a working ranch in Santa Clarita, Calif., which creates a relaxing atmosphere for everyone, she says.
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“There’s a llama named Rosie who’s our ranch llama, we’ve got a family of cows who had 3 calves born. You drive into work every day against traffic on the highway, you drive down country roads to get to the set and there’s always a family of deer grazing in a pasture on your way. It’s astonishing what that does to the psyche on a daily basis.”
Bell says thanks to the influence of Ed Begley Jr., the production also tries to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
“He never preaches it, he just lives it,” Bell says. In honor of Begley’s 70th birthday, Bell contacted Rock and Wrap It Up, a company that delivered craft services leftovers to a local homeless shelter. “In film and TV, the waste is extraordinary in food. I’m always trying to figure out another way to do good, because we have this incredible example in Ed Begley Jr.”