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.