The Unicorn not your average sitcom
ON THE surface, The Unicorn appears to be a sitcom about dating.
The series follows widower Wade (Walton Goggins), who is eager to move on from the most difficult year of his life, only to realise he's unprepared to raise his two daughters on his own and equally unprepared for the dating world where he's suddenly a hot commodity.
But it soon goes much deeper than swipes on Tinder and awkward blind dates.
"It's a story about life on the other side of struggle, regardless of what that struggle is," Goggins says.
"The loss of a spouse or a job or an ageing parent, that's what unites all of us. We've found the humour in all of these situations and the heart in them."
Playing the leading man in a network sitcom is an unexpected turn for Goggins, who received critical acclaim for his performances in the gritty TV dramas Sons of Anarchy and Justified; playing a transgender prostitute in the former and a criminal masquerading as a white supremacist in the latter.
The Alabama-born actor drew on his own life for the role, including his first wife's tragic death by suicide.
"I didn't see my life going in this direction at all," he says. "I read the story and I was taken with the possibility of it. I thought 'Wow, I have experienced something not so dissimilar to what this character is going through'.
"I'm very happy I made this decision. I've been around for a long time working on shows on premium cable and basic cable, but I've never been in this arena. The limitations that scared me so much are actually liberating. I like the fact that you can't cuss and you have 22 minutes to tell a story. It makes it sharper and more poignant when it really lands.
"We all deal with loss, we all struggle and go through tough times. Being a father and having lived the life that I've lived, that is very important to me."
Goggins also drew on a diverse range of influences for his first sitcom, including an Aussie classic.
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Well it ain’t risky business but damn... this is what Joy looks like!! You know that moment when you’re alone... and you’re feeling so good it makes you want to “cut a rug...” I know I’ve been there. Haven’t we all. Wade Felton has found happiness! Tonight on The Unicorn 🦄🦄🦄 @cbstv
"I'm a big Kath & Kim fan," he says. "I'm all over the map with comedy. Friends is extraordinary. When Friends got you they really got you. I also love the first two seasons of The Andy Griffith Show - he's a widower too. I'm watching it with my son right now. Modern Family is a wonderful show."
An unexpected side effect of The Unicorn's popularity has been Goggins' promotion to confidant and therapist.
"I've become a repository for sadness, but in the best way," he says. "I'm on Instagram and the posts became very personal very quickly. I thought 'Wow it's working. It's doing some good'.
"People are stopping me on the street and saying 'OK let's get into it. This is what happened to me'. I know it's coming. I just dig people and I'll sit and listen to it."
Stream season one of The Unicorn on Ten All Access now.