Rebecca Rittenhouse initially worried that people wouldn’t have an appetite for her lighthearted new rom-com series, given that the pandemic was in a better spot. Would people instead be craving dark gritty shows? Was there still a need for soothing escapism?
“A lot of people have been reaching out,” Rittenhouse says, answering her own question about the show’s fan base. “People seem to be really enjoying it and binging it and DMing me and commenting about ‘When is the second season coming out?’ And I’m like, ‘I wish I had the answer to that!’”
The show she’s referring to is “Maggie,” a light new Hulu rom-com series about a modern-day psychic (yes, named Maggie).
“I think that it’s good timing for this show, because the world is just in a very difficult place. There was a moment when I was a little bit worried, I was like, ‘Oh no, the pandemic’s over. And people are going to want to go back to TV that’s sort of darker and more intense,’” says Rittenhouse, who plays the titular character, her first leading role. “And as life gets better, people I think have more of an ability to tolerate that type of entertainment. But maybe it is good timing for our show. It’s just very simple and light and sweet and uplifting.”
The Hulu series is an adaptation of a 2019 short film by the same name, and didn’t reach Rittenhouse until fairly late in the development process.
“They had been trying to figure out who was going to be Maggie for at least a month or two,” she says. “And it just kind of came my way; it was two weeks before the pilot that I ended up [signing] the contract. It’s funny, sometimes things just happen like that.”
A fan of romantic comedies, she was immediately drawn to the genre.
“I enjoy participating in things that just kind of make life a little brighter, hopefully,” she says. “I love working in comedy and on things that are just happy and funny.”
Aside from the whole seeing-the-future thing, which Rittenhouse does not share with her character (unfortunately), she saw plenty of overlap between herself and Maggie.
“I’m not married. If you’re in your thirties and you’re unmarried, but you do want to have a family, but you also have a career…we’re still not at the point in the world where things are the same for women as they are for men,” Rittenhouse says. “And you start to feel a lot of pressure about your decision making. ‘Is this the right person to be with? Should I freeze my eggs? Should I prepare to do things on my own? Is the person I’m with the right partner for me?’ And obviously, I don’t speak for everyone, but I’m speaking for myself and for Maggie. And I think Maggie definitely has that fear of making a mistake. And she leans into her visions and abilities as a way to say, ‘Well, I know what’s going to happen, so I’m just not going to bother,’ and she uses it as a way to avoid mistakes and heartbreak. I just found that really relatable and a fresh take on that idea, which is what a lot of Millennial women deal with.”
Rittenhouse has had her own positive experiences with psychics (“she didn’t know anything about me other than she saw a photo of me — she didn’t know my first name, nothing, and was amazing”) and says that playing Maggie opened her up even more to the idea of homing in to her intuition and listening to her feelings.
“One of my good friends, her name’s Sarah Potter. She is a psychic and she reads tarot. And so, when I got the show, she was really excited. Because she was like, ‘Wow, I’m so excited to see this represented on TV.’ And not as a quirky weirdo, but just a real person, you know?”
“When people say things to you, your brain automatically wants to attach meaning. And I think that there’s a lot of message in the meaning that you attach, because I think a lot of us doubt our own decision-making and our own feelings all the time,” she says. “At least my experience with psychics has been that they have helped me sort of sort through my own feelings, which is ironic, because I think Maggie is bad at doing that with her own abilities. I actually think it’s a really good lesson. At the end of the day, it’s your life and your voice is the only one that really matters. And other people may not necessarily understand why you do what you do or the decisions you make, including the people you’re closest to, including your parents. And parents are a big part of Maggie, the characters, and her need for approval from them and need for validation. And I think that is part of a journey of growing up, even if it’s late stage in your thirties, is kind of figuring out how to live your own life the way that you want to do it and not in service of somebody else.”