When it comes to YouTube Premium, one name is recognized about all else: Cobra Kai. But the streaming service does, in fact, have other offerings, one of which is actually the true underdog story of the whole situation: the meta-comedy Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television*. The series stars Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars, Party Down) as a very exaggerated version of himself and one-half of an unlikely buddy cop duo. In the first season, he was partnered with Detective Mathers, played by Samira Wiley (Orange is the New Black, The Handmaid’s Tale). Now in its second season, Mathers is in a coma — more on that later — and Hansen has a new reluctant partner, Detective Vincente, played by Wood Harris (Remember the Titans, The Wire).
Uproxx recently spoke with the creator of this meta Hollywood crime comedy about an actor who helps the LAPD solve crimes, writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber, as well as Ryan Hansen himself. As expected, it was a very serious interview. At least, by the end of it.
Ryan, with a show like Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television* and even going back to Play It Again, Dick, playing a really well-meaning but also really obtuse version of yourself kind of seems like your calling card. What is it about making yourself the butt of the joke that is so appealing to you?
Ryan: Well, neither Play It Again, Dick nor Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television* were my idea, so it seems like other people, i.e. Rob Thomas and Rawson Marshall Thurber III, find it appealing to make me the butt of the joke. I take myself and my craft very, very seriously and someday people, i.e. Rob Thomas and Rawson Marshall Thurber III, will realize that.
Play It Again, Dick and Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television* are also both shows that have done a lot for extremely niche streaming platforms (CW Seed, YouTube Red/Premium) in terms of showing their true creative capability and worth… only without getting much recognition, critically or even in terms of mass appeal. Have you felt like you were making something special with these shows, even without that recognition?
Ryan: The best part of being on a niche streaming platform is being able to do things creatively you couldn’t do on a network show. Having that freedom is pretty special as an actor and is very satisfying. Would I like more people to view our show? Sure. Is my trailer as big as someone’s on a network show? Absolutely not. Was I on a show with my name in the tittle for two seasons? You bet.
So what is the next small streaming service you plan to make regret airing your show?
The next small streaming service I’d like to do a show on is Target. I’m there all the time anyway and I’d love a lil’ friends n’ family discount. It would be a great show.
Rawson, how many times while filming an episode or even just a scene does Ryan suggest, “I should do a backflip”? How were you able to get him to wait until four episodes into this season to finally do both that and full-on choreography?
Rawson: Never. But that’s usually myself or our producer, Beau Bauman, because we just love Ryan so much, and he’s so physically gifted there’s just literally nothing he can’t do. Neither myself nor Beau can do backflips, so we’re easily impressed. We asked him to do it probably a couple times too many than he should, but that just speaks to what Ryan is capable of doing. We asked him to do everything in this show; his own stunts, his own backflips, his own jokes. You know, it’s not for everybody.
Ryan: Backflips are why I am a working actor. I used to do them in every audition even if it was a dramatic role. I would finish my scene and say thank you and then I would say I can do a backflip. They would smile, I would backflip and they would stand up a cheer and say, “That was amazing! You are completely wrong for this part but we love your backflip so… You’re hired!“ Now every time I work, when the director finds out I can do a backflip they say, “Well we have to put that in somewhere!” And he found a great spot for it in episode four, after I try and bust a move with pro dancers.
Rawson: He is such a good dancer it’s criminal. Again, I can’t dance at all, and he is a fantastic dancer and really good at it. … He used to be, before he was an actor, a Party Pumper, which he and some other folks were hired to come to parties and dance and get the crowd going, so he’s a former professional dancer. It just makes me laugh really hard, so any time I can get Ryan to dance or do a backflip, I will do it shamelessly. If you look at, in Central Intelligence, which is where I met Ryan, we had him dancing at the very end. He was just such a good dancer we had him come back for the very end of, in fact, the reunion thing and he was dancing. The scene didn’t make it into the final edit, but I’ve been asking Ryan to dance on camera since I’ve known him.
As Rawson noted you do your own stunts, Ryan, by how many foot chases into this season were you officially tired of doing foot chases?
Ryan: By foot chase number one. I was done. Middle of the summer and a billion takes. Done.
Is there any cameo you guys wanted to get this season but you just couldn’t get? Whether it be a scheduling thing or someone actually not wanting to go down the YouTube Premium rabbit hole?
Ryan: Eric Christian Olsen. And Brad Pitt. Brad had a thing he had to do or he would have done it for sure. Like for sure for sure. Season three he said he would do it. For sure.
Rawson: We were desperate to get Eric Christian Olsen back because he’s so funny in season one and a dear friend. He and Ryan, their scene together in the pilot episode and then later on in season one, they’re just my favorite scenes. We got really close to getting him. I think it was like we were going to do the next day with him, and then there was a contractual thing with CBS I think, and we couldn’t make it work at the last second. He was devastated, and certainly, we were too. Then we just, we scrambled after that.
But, yes, Eric Christian Olsen. We put him in a little bit. There’s a blink and you miss it Hollywood Walk of Fame star that says, Eric Christian Olsen. But that’s his cameo.
Favorite meta joke about Samira Wiley’s unavailability as Detective Mathers this season?
Ryan: When Jessica St. Clair’s character says Samira is “in a contractually-induced coma.” Me: “You mean medically-induced?” Jessica: “That’s what I said. “
Rawson: There are two that I really liked. I [also] liked when Jessica St. Clair says, “contractually-induced coma.” That one made me laugh. Then, I loved when Rob Corddry says, “Any chance that she’ll get out of it?” Those two particularly made me laugh.
Who would win in a fight: Bad Teacher or Bad Judge?
Ryan: Neither. Bad Santa II.
Are you looking forward to people actually reviewing the show this season?
Ryan: Yes I am. It’s shockingly a great show and I’m so freaking proud of it. It looks amazing. It’s Hilarious. The guest stars… I’m not gonna name names but… Stephen Merchant, Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, Dax Shepard, Jessica St. Clair, Ben Schwartz, Thomas Lennon, Rob Corddry, Donald Faison, Joel McHale, Jillian Bell, Rhys Darby, Lucy Hale, Jon Cryer, Tim Meadows, and 400 other A-list actors.
Rawson: Isn’t that funny? No, I certainly [am not]. Reviews are not my favorite thing. The good ones, I don’t believe, and the bad ones I agree with typically. But yeah, we just thought it was so funny, I mean, it’s so perfect for our show that… We literally … didn’t even score on Rotten Tomatoes for the first season. I’ve never even heard of that. So, there you go.
But, yes, certainly our show is art imitating life imitating art, so it definitely makes sense that we had no reviews. And the fact that we … [were named] the 98th best show on television by TV Guide, which we were thrilled with and couldn’t stop laughing about. It was like the perfect number for us. “97? Nah, we didn’t really earn that. 99 would have been an insult, but 98.”
Was the show ever actually in true in danger of cancelation? How much of that is just played up for the show?
Rawson: Oh, in imminent danger. Yeah, no, that’s not played up. I think we’re done. I don’t know, we’ll see, maybe there’ll be a very vociferous tweeting campaign to help us, but I think we might be over. I think we might be over.
Oh, that’s actually a bummer.
Rawson: Yeah, thanks. We really love the show. Never say never, but we’re really proud of the two seasons we made, and if anybody out there would want to give us a third season I think we’d all jump at the chance. But as it stands now, I wish we were joking.
The second season of ‘Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television*’ drops Wednesday, January 30th, on YouTube Premium. Here’s the trailer for the show’s new season.