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Retta talks Game of Thrones and Good Girls at SXSW

By Jenna Busch
retta in good girls

You loved Retta in Parks and Recreation as Donna, and now she’s killing it as Ruby in the NBC show Good Girls. In the series, Ruby is part of an all-women team of criminals alongside Mae Whitman’s Annie and Christina Hendricks’ Beth. Hey, they’re all doing it for good reasons.

At the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, SYFY FANGRRLS headed down to the Comcast NBCU house on Rainey Street to chat with Retta about the show, what she geeks out over, and how she just can’t watch Game of Thrones right now.

Season 2 of Good Girls is so much darker from what we’ve seen so far.

Yeah. It gets really dark. I keep telling people that every time, I don't know what's coming. Mae likes to know everything. Christina wants to know enough that she knows what to play, but she doesn't want to know too much, because she doesn't wanna play something that she shouldn't know in her performance, and I wanna know nothing. Jenna [Bans] takes us all out separately to tell us what we have coming in the season, blah, blah, blah. I'm like, don't tell me any storylines. I don't want to know. She's like, "Let me just tell you this one." I'm like, "Don't tell me." So, because I tell her not to tell me, when I get the scripts I lose my mind because I'm like, "What?!" There are some surprises that happened in this season that I was completely thrown by and mortified to find out. I would text Jenna in the middle of the night like, "Jenna, I can't do this," or "Why are we doing this?" She's like, "Because it's good TV, my friend." So I too find it to be a dark and insane season. 

So you understand my reaction to the Season 2 premiere!

Yes, I was as surprised as you! 

You probably have the most emotional turn of everybody

Yeah, I'm the cry baby. 

Ruby's got some good reasons though! Is that a hard thing to do, acting-wise?

You know what, no. I feel like I'm at an age where I'm emotionally mature and so I'm familiar with what hurts me, what moves me, what surprises me, what makes me happy, and that sort of thing. I'm more adept at clicking into my emotions for certain things. Ten years ago, I don't know that I would have been able to play this role, but having lived the life, I am familiar. I'm also pretty good at sense memory for myself, so I can create my own triggers, but usually, it's the writing. Usually, it's the writing that triggers me. When I read the pilot, I cried reading it. So it was easier to kind of get to that place because, in the writing, it kind of geared me and led me to it. 

The really cool thing about this show is the fact that it shows off female friendships, and that's really the love story that we're seeing. So how do you feel about that in working with these women?

One of my favorite shows was Sex in the City, and what I really loved about the show ... It was funny, but it showed friendship. It made me happy to see friendships between women that I personally have with my friends. I loved that they would get into fights, be angry with one another, and then make up. You saw a love relationship between a group of friends. I specifically loved the scene in Sex in the City where Carrie makes a call from a payphone and says can you meet me in our place. You think it's going to be Big and it turns out it's Miranda. It made me so happy because I was like, I get that. I understand that and I've always wanted to portray that, and I appreciate being able to do it on this show, and having done it on Girlfriends' Guide, I really ... I love it. It's my favorite thing to show what love between friends can be. 

Can we talk about Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones, it messed me up! I had to stop watching. I couldn't take it. I think I may finish it ... when it's done, when it's done, done, done. Everybody knows what's happened, so I can call someone and say something and they not be spoiled or whatever. It was so intense for me. The Red Wedding f*cked me up. I think I watched maybe three more episodes into that new season because I got to see Joffrey die. That made me very happy. I've never cheered for death on television the way I cheered for Joffrey's death. It made me question who I was as a person. But it was too much. It literally was too much for me. TV was too much for me at that point, so I tend to go back where it won't be so intense for me because it won't be weekly and waiting, and just living with the heinousness that happens. I'll try to breeze through it, whatever I can, but right now I can't bring myself to finish. 

Have you seen any of the new trailers, or are you staying away from everything? 

I have not because I do know that I want to get back to it. I spoiled different things in the past for myself just going on Twitter. So I'm hoping to get back to it and not spoil myself. Although, I think it's better to spoil myself, that way it won't affect me so harshly when I do watch it. 

You can prepare yourself that way.


What are you geeking out over these days? 


Or movies. 

Oh. I don't even know what movies are out. 

Well, there's Captain Marvel...

I'm not a superhero person. I watch them on cable. I rarely even get to go to the theater, so I tend to watch ... I loved X-Men. But I watched all that on HBO or whatever. I can't think of what I'm geeking out ... I mean, I will say Umbrella Academy was really great. I'm enjoying that. 

So anything you plan on live-tweeting? 

I don't really have time because, when I live-tweet, I generally take my time. I try to take pictures and do video and put it in my tweet. Because I work so much, when I'm down, I'm just trying to plow through stuff. So I'm just trying to consume it all. I don't have time to really share unless something is just bananas. Then I'm like, "Did y'all see this sh*t?" and they're like, "Yeah we saw it when it aired originally."

Do that with Game of Thrones because we are all dying to hear your thoughts on it. 

I definitely did that with Buffy. I didn't watch Buffy when it came out and I bought the box set, and I was live-tweeting it. I still didn't get to finish that. That's why I still have to go back to finishing because that quiet episode ["Hush"]? God bless.