Ask Alan: Why Do So Many Shows Let Actors Play Two Roles?

Time for another installment of Ask Alan, as I take your questions about the past, present, and future of TV.

First up this week, I talk about the recent boom in shows where one actor plays multiple roles, including Fargo, The Deuce, The Leftovers, Twin Peaks, and Counterpart with J.K. Simmons, which this weekend catches up to the last episode I watched before writing my review. This segment features special guest commentary from Damon Lindelof.

After that, I answer a question about why Transparent and House of Cards have chosen to go on without, respectively, Jeffrey Tambor and Kevin Spacey, rather than attempting to bring in new actors to play Maura Pfefferman and Frank Underwood. The days of the two Darrins are for the most part past us, though I talk about some recent instances where dramas recast less prominent roles than the two from these shows.

Finally, a recent Ask Alan segment about spin-offs that aired concurrently with the parent show inspired a spin-off question of its own, about spin-offs that led to additional spin-offs. It’s happened more often than you might think.

As always, you can email me questions at, or tweet at me with the hashtag #AskAlanDay.

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