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The Real Reason There Wasn't Ad-Libbing In The Woman In The House - Exclusive

When "The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window" debuted on Netflix, it quickly became one of the streaming platform's most bingeable series. The witty show stars Kristen Bell as the trope-filled former housewife Anna who's busy dealing with the tragic loss of her daughter with a dizzying mixture of endless wine and a hefty dose of narcotics. 

Sure, the premise doesn't exactly sound humorous, but the expertly crafted satire packs in more than a few laughs during Anna's dramatically exaggerated delusions. While comedies tend to leave plenty of room for ad-libbing and off-the-cuff performances, "The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window" and its specific brand of parody left little room to play. However, sticking to the written page only strengthens the satirical thriller. Where else could someone else say, "There's so many layers to casseroles, just like there are so many layers to a person" with a straight face?

During an exclusive interview with Looper, Tom Riley explained why there wasn't cause for ad-libbing on "The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window." 

Sticking to the written word

It may seem like there were ample opportunities for the cast of "The Woman in the House" to ad-lib, but the satirical nature of the show made that difficult, and if you ask Riley, unnecessary. "A lot of shows, they fall into two categories. You've either got the intense showrunners who demand that lines are read exactly as written on the page without any change, or people are a little more chill," Riley explained. "A lot of the time, if they're a bit more chill and there is a collaborative process, you sit down, you work out how to make a scene feel better and more truthful, and work in a way that it might not be doing on the set."

Fans who didn't quite realize that the series is a satire didn't think very highly of the dialogue, but it's supposed to hinge on exaggerated tropes. "With this show, the lines were both bad and were supposed to stay that way. There wasn't as much improv as there could have been because anything that you tried to say to make it sound more natural or anything off the cuff and witty, didn't necessarily fit into the kind of Lifetime-y, clunky style dialogue we were trying to do," Riley added. "There were comedy bits we threw in, that like, for example, in Episode 4, with the ventriloquist dummy, I was doing lots of weird slapsticky stuff with that dummy. It didn't fit the eventual weird tone that we were going for, but as far as lines were concerned, no, we didn't really improv around them." 

Well, ad-lib or no ad-lib, the end result is pure genius.

The first season of "The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window" is now streaming on Netflix.