Ever dropped a baby? Ever been dropped as a baby? Most of us would like to say no. (We hope.) But Hulu’s latest comedy, The Drop, might have you calling your parents to double-check.
The Drop, which hit the streamer last Friday, stars a stacked ensemble of comedians, with Jermaine Fowler (Coming 2 America, Sorry to Bother You) and Anna Konkle (PEN15) at the helm. The two play a couple who head off to a destination wedding, where said baby-dropping occurs—and the film’s antics ensue. Fowler’s character, Mani, hands off their friend’s baby to his wife, Lex (Konkle)… and reality hits as quickly as the baby hits the pavement. Despite her character’s butter fingers in The Drop, the heavy role is in safe hands with Konkle. Her name has become synonymous with the “traumedy” genre alongside her PEN15 collaborator, Maya Erskine. (Really, you can imagine the scene somewhere within the madness that is Season Two of PEN15, where Erskine and Konkle’s seventh-graders accidentally feed Anna’s pet hamster to a dog.)
Still, when Konkle was tapped for the role three months postpartum, she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to bear the weight of the film’s dark premise. “It sounds weird, but I felt intimidated to play an adult again,” she says. While PEN15 provided distance for Konkle to synthesize her tweenaged experiences as someone “pretending to have womanhood when I didn’t,” conveying womanhood—and motherhood, especially—onscreen was much more daunting. “The motherhood was so new for me. I was a little bit in shock right after [my daughter] Essie was born. Like, How did this happen? But in a good way.” Even for Konkle, she wasn’t sure if she could find humor in the idea of sending a baby to the ground.
But, much like parenting often goes, Konkle decided to figure it out as she went—learning how to breast-pump on set and relying on supporters, like her co-lead (and fellow parent) Fowler. The result is a refreshing take on parenting and its many imperfections, with Konkle’s lack of hindsight offering a poignant wisdom in itself. With the The Drop‘s debut, Konkle discussed the “military operation” of caring for a three month-old on set, tackling a mostly improvised film, and working through her own fears as a mother.
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I know a lot of your work, especially on PEN15, has connected to your life offscreen. But shooting a film about parenthood three months after giving birth to your first child seems pretty uncanny. Was this at all intentional?
I just pictured my baby falling into my lap at birth—and then three months later, this coming up. [Laughs] Basically, I was three months postpartum, and I think this movie was a week and a half out of filming. The offer came in, and I was like, “There’s absolutely no way,” for a bunch of reasons. Mostly, my vagina was still healing, and I was like, “I couldn’t possibly do this in the jungles of Mexico.”
I talked to the director, who was eight months pregnant, and learned there was another actress who was breastfeeding. And it started to feel uncanny in a way that felt like there was something to process there. I was grappling also with my own experience of pregnancy and birth and motherhood and creativity and acting in ways that I didn’t expect to grapple with. Like, with PEN15, the vanity of it all is out the window in terms of women onscreen, in an unusual way. And you’d think I’d be really used to that. But I felt a level of vulnerability having my baby and the ways that your body changes… It’s just this crazy experience that I wanted to synthesize and put into my work. So I think when this came in, it gave me energy and faith. Your point of view at 35 as a mother is still relevant. And something that I think a lot of people would not think is funny on paper—it was exciting to me. I mean, hopefully people do think it’s funny.
I saw you on Jimmy Kimmel Live! talking about having your daughter with you during filming. How did you balance taking care of a three-month-old with your shooting schedule?
I mean, the pumping situation, which I hadn’t had a lot of experience doing, because I was breastfeeding at home before that… It was every three hours and it did become a military operation, partly because my daughter couldn’t have formula. So, my milk became as important as the life-giving essence to this little lovely baby. So, every three hours, we’d stop set and pause and I would go pump for 30 to 40 minutes. It was uncomfortable, but also really exhilarating advocating for making breast milk from set. But it was really cool that the production was OK with it. And it should be like that everywhere. But it does affect their budget, and it does affect time to stop filming every three hours.
It is so wild how many aspects of caring for a newborn there are that we just don’t talk about. I just learned from TikTok that newborns can’t have water. And I was like, why would we not be taught that the second we get to earth?
There’s so much that needs to happen. I mean, obviously women’s health is underfunded and not talked about. But, just socially, the things that us as women talk about together about what’s happening? It’s wild.
Isn’t the water thing because the nutrition [in breast milk and formula] is vital, so they don’t want them to fill up on water? Or is it something else?
Probably. I actually don’t really know.
Okay, we’ll Google later. We don’t know. But see? I don’t even fucking know! I should know that.
Going from your role in PEN15, which is largely based upon yourself, what was it like to relate to Lex, a character written by someone else?
With PEN, there was so much time to look back and reflect and find humor in the past. Like, if I had made PEN15 a couple of years after middle school—I mean, I’d be in high school—but, moreover, I don’t think there would’ve been anything funny about it to me. And so, I think [The Drop] was sort of intimidating, actually. Because this still feels very serious and scary. Honestly, the dropping aspect actually freaked me out. I got truly scared that I would drop her, which I know happens.
But, on a deeper level, this idea that Lex is grappling with: Do I really want to be a mother? Was I just falling into those footsteps? I wasn’t in that space. I’ve always wanted kids, but I was like, Will I be the kind of mother that I thought I would be? Will I live up to my own expectations? Am I good enough?
I was actually just listening to your podcast episode on You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes recently.
I never listened to that! I know that I left it and I was like, What the fuck did I just say? [Laughs] We were talking about death and mortality, right? And, like, the afterlife?
A lot. Yeah. There was a lot of death.
Oh my god.
Which I was game for.
OK, cool, cool, cool. Always uplifting.
In a non-death-related segment, though, you talked about how obsessing over protecting your kid can lead to these intrusive fears of accidentally harming them. By taking on a role where you’re fully leaning into that scenario—of actually dropping someone’s kid—was that cathartic at all in dealing with those fears?
I think it’s something that I’m truly grappling with more now. I do think it was helpful for processing, and there was something cathartic about it. But I wouldn’t have been able to talk to you about it or synthesize why it resonated with me—or why it was scary to me in a way. I think it’s a feeling of not trusting yourself. When it comes to really being a mom, there’s that paranoia of just watching myself and being like, Is this going to positively affect her or negatively? As a newborn, they’re so fragile. There’s this feeling of: Am I going to hurt my baby unintentionally? And then it has synthesized into, Am I emotionally being enough as a parent? Parenthood is weird in a way that I wasn’t expecting, but I also love it. So that’s fortunate.
I also want to talk about your work with Jermaine Fowler. Given your comedy backgrounds, it was interesting that your onscreen relationship is fairly dramatic. How did the two of you develop the rapport needed for heavier scenes, especially given how much of the film is improvised?
We just kind of hit it off right away. I mean, there was so little time. It was like a week and a half before filming that we first met. We were Zooming, and then we got lunch, talked about our families, and had a little therapy session. He’s an extreme caretaker. He has two kids, so the amount of empathy that he had for me being a new mom and us being a new family during filming… He was just constantly checking on me in a way that was very Mani and Lex—which is one of the issues in the film, as well, that Mani’s taking care of Lex all of the time, but isn’t being taken care of in the way that he needs.
Is there anything that you hope aspiring parents, or new parents, watching this film will take away from it?
I love that the film turns on its head this idea that we as women are just going to want to be parents. I think that should be dispelled. And I also really love the idea of dropping the baby. [Laughs] That’s not the sentence I want to say. I love what is expressed through the dropping of the baby in the movie. I think Lex is really trying to be perfect prior to that drop, and it just reminds me of Instagram and all the relationships that we post about—and everything having to look a certain way. And this drop dispels that. It makes her look at herself and think, What do I really want?
I think I relate to it in the sense of putting a lot of pressure on myself as a parent. You’re just not going to do it perfectly. And that’s not the point. I think that’s what Lex gets to at the end when she’s ready to have the child. It’s like, OK, I do want this. But it’s not because it has to be perfect—or I have to be perfect.
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