The Millennials of The Great Indoors are searching for cell service. Dressed in formal attire, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Shaun Brown, and Christine Ko are perched atop a dusty mountain in Topanga Canyon, seemingly at ease with the weather (it's boiling) and the old-school technology they're playing with for the shoot, currently whispering to each other through tin cans on string.
When lunch is called, however, they scurry to the air-conditioned trailer where they can connect their phones to the Wi-Fi. "I'm all the Millennial stereotypes," Brown admits.
The Great Indoors takes advantage of said stereotypes, centering on Joel McHale (Community, The Soup) as Jack, a modern-day frontiersman and lead reporter for Outdoor Limits magazine, who finds himself constantly clashing with the social-media-savvy millennials who work for him: Clark, played by Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, How to Train Your Dragon); Ko (Ballers, Relationship Status) as Emma; and Brown (True Blood, The Newsroom) as Mason. The series focuses on the divide between that millennial threesome and the "older" generation (McHale, Stephen Fry), who long for the pre-Internet days when people camped instead of glamped and read actual magazines rather than that publication's Instagram captions.
It appears that life imitates art, as all three Millennials cop to preferring "camping" on their Studio City set, rather than in actual nature. Over gluten-free marble cake, the decidedly indoorsy co-stars opened up about their friendship, phone addictions, and the myriad ways the next generation is already making them feel old.
So what's the vibe like on set? And what makes it different from other shows you've worked on in the past?
Brown: It's super chill. There are no crazy people. Everybody's really down to make this the best project.
Ko: The level of hard work that's put into it and the level that we hang out is equal, which is so rare. It's not a strange thing for us to be in Joel's room at the end of the tape night, just chatting and laughing about everything that happened.
You mentioned hanging out with Joel. What's it like working with him?
Ko: Ugh, that a******? [Laughs.] He's honestly so nice that you want to find a bad thing about him, but it's really, really hard.
Brown: I can think of three off the top of my head.
Ko: Well, like Shaun, he's really sarcastic, so you can't take him seriously. But he's also the nicest person. The way he treats everybody on set including the crew—he knows everyone's names, he treats them all the same.
Mintz-Plasse: Yeah, I've never seen him complain about anything. I try to take that from him, because sometimes you can find things to complain about, even when your life is so good. Like, "I'm so tired, and the lights are so hot," or like, "I'm feeling s***** about this scene," but I've never seen him do anything like that, so I think we're all starting to adopt that.
So you guys have to be less diva than you normally would be.
Brown: Well, yeah, we can't be more diva than the captain of the ship.
Mintz-Plasse: I'll be standing there in a giant costume and I'll be sweating and I'll be like, "Guys, I need water, I'm sweating," and Joel will say, "Oh, is life hard? You could be a Syrian refugee." And you're like, "OK, yeah."
Ko: And you can also ask him about anything. He's been in this business for so long, and he's not one of those people where you're scared to ask for his opinion or his advice on anything. It's really cool to have that.
So this show is about a magazine, and this interview will be in a magazine, so the question is: When is the last time you read a physical magazine? In a doctor's office doesn't count.
Mintz-Plasse: Hmm. When was the last time I was featured in a magazine? [Laughs.]
Ko: I read a lot of fashion magazines when I'm getting my nails done.
Mintz-Plasse: That doesn't count! Umm, I probably bought a Rolling Stone at an airport to read on a plane once?
Brown: I subscribe to GQ, so I read regularly.
Mintz-Plasse: You do?
Brown: Yeah! Pssh. I gotta keep my fashion tight, gotta check out those suits.
Mintz-Plasse: I'm gonna douse you in this water right now.
You guys play pretty indoorsy people working at an outdoors magazine. How outdoorsy are you in real life?
Ko: I would say I'm not very outdoorsy. Only because I'm very scared of bugs, and that's something you can't control, unless we're on set, and there's a camping site on set, and we can guarantee there's no bugs there.
Mintz-Plasse: I went to Jackson Hole earlier this year. Gorgeous hiking and lakes and like ... I didn't love it. It was gorgeous, but I didn't like the hiking part.
Brown: I actually like hiking. I don't like mountain climbing. I skydived for a project, and it kinda amplified my fear of heights. You'd think it would help it, but it did the exact opposite. At the shoot, I was standing on this thing and I was freaking out.
Mintz-Plasse: Oh, yeah, you were, and the ground was like three feet under you.
Brown: I couldn't look down. But I like to consider myself more outdoorsy than people think I am...
Mintz-Plasse: But you just said you're scared three feet above the ground.
Brown: Yes, well, I do like being inside.
How do you feel when someone calls you a Millennial?
Ko: You know, Joel said this the other day. He was like, "Millennials don't call themselves 'Millennials.' Gen-Xers don't call themselves 'Gen-Xers.'" Someone from a different generation just gives them that name.
Mintz-Plasse: No one's called me that to my face, really.
Ko: As much as the stereotypes work against us, I'm really proud of the good things that we do, so it never bothers me. Someone's like, "You're a Millennial," and I'm like, "Oh, so I'm part of the most understanding, inclusive generation, and we care about people's feelings and diversity? OK."
Brown: Yeah, we're addicted to our phones and social media, but that's the way the world is now. We just happen to be the ones who know how to work it the most. My mom still calls me when she needs help putting her photos from her phone onto her MacBook. On the show, we make fun of Joel and Stephen for the same things because that's a real dynamic.
Mintz-Plasse: I actually didn't know you could transfer photos to a computer without a cord. [Christine] blew my mind with Airdrop. It was like, "BAM!"
That's a great transition to the next question, which is: As representatives of the youngest generation on the show, what makes you feel old?
Mintz-Plasse: My roommate's a writer, and he's been taking meetings to work on webisodes ... What are they called?
Ko: Web series?
Mintz-Plasse: Yup, there you go. Old guy. He says the way to get things made is with YouTube stars, and that makes me feel old, because when I started working in this industry 10 whole years ago, it was actors and now it's "personalities."
Brown: I feel the same way. I've got two friends who are YouTube stars, and I'd give them s***, like, "You're not really an actor, bro." And they'd be like, "You don't understand how hard it is to create content every day."
Mintz-Plasse: There's no doubt they work their a**** off. No question about that.
Brown: Right, it's just another way in. It's the way of the future now.
What about you, Christine? What makes you feel old?
Ko: Does it have to be a technology thing? Because right now it's my hangover recovery time.
Mintz-Plasse: Oh yeah, you wake up at 21 and you're like, "I am so hungover. Let's do shots." I had three drinks last night, and I have a weird headache now.
Brown: Really? After only three drinks? [Laughs.] You know how when Facebook came out and you got to college and it was the coolest thing to do? I asked my sister last year, "Are you on Facebook? I wanna friend you." And she was like, "Nobody uses Facebook. Only old people do."
Ko: What?! What do they use now?
Brown: Instagram and Snapchat.
Mintz-Plasse: I'm on Facebook.
Brown: Yeah, I love Facebook. I do hate, though, that my mom comments on everything. And she'll bring herself into it, like, "Oh, that picture's so cute! Who's your mama?" [Laughs.]
Mintz-Plasse: Next time she asks that, just tag me. She'll end that.
So your characters all have wonderfully vague-sounding job titles. Clark is an "online content curator," Emma is a "social influencer," Mason is a "digital conversation specialist." Can each of you tell me what you think your character is actually in charge of?
Ko: At first I didn't really know what I did besides reeking of tequila and Pedialyte. But basically I drive social media traffic to the company and then get us sponsors.
Brown: I feel like I'm an idea guy for this digital magazine that we have, like what kind of polls are we gonna do, the more interactive stuff we can do with our subscribers.
Mintz-Plasse: I think I gather the information that we're then gonna post. Like a bear that was just found in the woods.
You guys did some camping for this shoot and worked with some pretty old-school technology. So, when was the last time you were actually without your phone for 24 hours?
Ko: Whoa. This is a difficult question.
Mintz-Plasse: Um. When did the iPhone come out?
Brown: I'm only without it if I'm driving and my phone's dead and I didn't bring my charger. So, I'm like, "Screw it. I'm an outdoor frontiersman now."
Ko: I try to [be without it]. On Sundays, I leave my phone when I go grocery shopping.
Mintz-Plasse: When I'm asleep, I'm without my phone. That's like a good eight hours. Unless you use a sleep tracker.
Brown: And I do! Dammit.
What do you guys think is the most and least Millennial thing about you?
Brown: I can only think of mosts.
Mintz-Plasse: I have asthma. I feel like Millennials don't have asthma. I feel like it was cured at some point.
Ko: I think maybe the least Millennial thing about me ... people say we're really sensitive and a lot of things bother us, but I'm pretty cold-hearted. [Giggles.]
Brown: I'm questioning my life right now. Maybe I should leave my phone for 24 hours. No, I can't.
Mintz-Plasse: Oh! I like to say "turnt." That's a lit thing to say. [Laughs.] Do you own a selfie stick?
Mintz-Plasse: F*** no!
Ko: I don't own one. Someone gave one to me and I was like, "I'll keep it."
Brown: So you own one.
Ko: Right. Well, I didn't buy it. [Laughs.]
By Emily Hirshey | Originally published in Watch! Magazine, February 2017.
Photo Credit: Nino Muñoz
Watch The Great Indoors on Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c on CBS and CBS All Access.