Adam Pally is sick of playing maniacs.
The New York native made a name for himself as the walking train wreck Max Blum in “Happy Endings” and the sweet but immature Dr. Peter Prentice on “The Mindy Project.” Now, he’s ready to settle down.
“The first decade of my career, which I’m so fortunate for, I played a lot of lunatics,” Pally joked. “It’s nice to get to play a character who is absolutely the sane one of the bunch.”
In “Indebted,” which premiered on NBC on Thursday, Pally plays Dave, a normal guy with a wife and kids in the suburbs of Connecticut. He’s stable and comfortable.
Then his parents, played by the perfectly cast Fran Drescher and Steven Weber, lose their money and move in, and what follows is a funny, sweet, caring look at a very Jewish, very screwed up family. But they’re screwed up in a way that’s familiar. It’s parents who didn’t save money and a sister who can’t get a date, not cancer-stricken dads who start making drugs and supernatural disappearances in 1980s Indiana.
For Pally, that looks more like reality.
“I feel like my true self is closer to Dave,” said the actor, 37. “At this age, you have a lot of responsibility. Children, sisters, friends, parents, pets. I identify with this idea that you just have to get to tomorrow.”
Even his family looks the same, Pally said: Drescher and Weber look similar enough to his own parents that they didn’t even change the childhood photos for the set background.
“I draw a lot from my wife, too,” he told the News, comparing her to his on-screen wife, played by Abby Elliott.
“I go from getting yelled at at home to getting yelled at in the script to back to getting yelled at at home.”
Elliott, daughter of “Saturday Night Live” alum Chris Elliott, is one of the few non-Jewish actors on “Indebted.”
“We call her our shiksa goddess,” Pally joked. “But [she’s] Hollywood royalty, so that’s almost being Jewish.”
Drescher, the nasally New Yorker who starred as Fran Fine on “The Nanny,” is arguably one of the most recognizable Jewish actors working today, and that comes through in the first three episodes. But Pally said the family traditions are more “flavor” than plot. Most of the story should be recognizable to everyone.
“The Jewishness of it, hopefully, is the frame on a painting that everybody has in their house,” he said.
“Indebted” is a simple show. There’s not much plot, and the characters, while heartwarming, probably aren’t going to change the world. Drescher’s Linda, a neurotic, over-the-top mother, even has a catchphrase. That’s all intentional.
“I remember watching ‘Friends’ as a child and just feeling, regardless of what’s going on, those people loved each other and they were funny and warm and good,” Pally said.
“I miss having a show that makes me feel good. That’s what I wanted to do.”