On the ABC hit, American Housewife, Katy Mixon plays Katie Otto, an unapologetic, says-what-she-means mom. The show, now in its fourth season, resonates with audiences for its truthful and thoughtful depiction of what it’s like to be parents of teenagers in a society that’s often caught up more with appearances than what really matters. We sat down with Mixon to talk about the show, how it deals with common teen dilemmas and what her co-stars are teaching her about being a mom to her own kids.
By Rachel Naud
Congrats on season 4 of American Housewife! What can we expect from this season?
Thank you so much! So grateful to be a part of another season! This season the Otto family is entering a new era, or at least trying to! Katie is going through the same struggles many women do as they approach the big 4-0. Her kids are growing and needing her less and less, but she wants to stay as involved as she did when they were babies. Taylor, the oldest daughter, is applying to college—and her dream school is a reach, so it’s been interesting to see this amazing teenager struggle with achieving her dreams. Katie herself is trying to figure out her place in this new world. Her job bums her out, but just raising the kids doesn’t do it for her anymore, so she’s really asking—where do I belong?
A People’s Choice Favourite, why do you think the show resonates with its audience?
I feel it is because there is such heart throughout it. You get to hang out with these outrageous people for a little bit each week. But, it’s ultimately a show about an outsider struggling to balance fitting in with the crowd and trying to retain her own self-worth, which is super relatable. Thinking especially about the relationship between Katie Otto and her arch nemesis Chloe Brown Muller, played by the uh-amazing Jessica St. Clair. In many ways, their struggle with each other is so similar to the way women struggle with themselves and society. But on TV we get to duke it out with lots of jokes.
What do you love most about playing Katie Otto?
She’s unapologetically herself. Katie Otto is a firecracker! She has an opinion about everything and she’s not afraid to share it. And I love that. She also loves her family to the core — and will do anything, anything, to make sure they all come out okay.
How has your character evolved throughout the seasons?
Katie Otto has done just as much growing up as her kids these last four years. She went from working full-time as a mom, to taking the leap as a career gal—but ultimately finding out it wasn’t for her. This season, she starts her own business using one of her talents, cooking. Katie Otto is always trying to find her place in the world, and even if it takes her a bit, what’s great is she never stops trying.
Katy Mixon and Katie Otto: Complete Opposites? Or Twinsies? How so?
Complete opposites! Just like Katie with an “ie,” I love my family to the core. But it’s okay if somebody wants a green juice and do yoga! Katie Otto feels differently! I also personally have an inner peace and just rock n’ roll in a different way. I’m not bothered with many things. I also have two babies and am a new mommy in real life, which has been magical to enter into. I love sparkles and big hoop earrings too!
On the show you’re the mom of two teens and one tween, how is playing their mom on-air, preparing you for real-life parenthood when your kids are eventually teens?
Well, my babies are quite a way off, but watching my show kids (Meg, Daniel, and Julia) grow into their teenage years has been amazing. They’re facing all the things kids face — roadblocks at school, trouble fitting in, new loves, relationships, wondering “what’s next?” Their strength and joy for life has been so inspiring to watch. They’re three wonderful kids. I started this show not a mommy and life changed in Aug 2016 and now my husband and I look so forward to witnessing our babies Kingston and Elektra grow, thrive and shine in this world with their incredible personalities and go after their dreams.
What have you learned from your younger co-workers about what it’s like being a teen in 2019?
Being a teen in 2019 seems quite different than being a teen in the 90’s. Life is so unreal and wild now with the social media aspect. My show kids seem to navigate it the best they can, they all have a beautiful sense of what is important in life and remain so grounded and wonderful. Also, it must be said that the three of them have great real-life parents to guide them through and protect them from the craziness.
Will season 4 deal with any particular teen issues?
This season, we go right alongside Taylor as she goes through the college application process. The anxiety of trying to sum up all your experiences in 500 words or less, getting in (or not getting in), then how to deal when your first love (the most important love!!) might be living states away. The show dives in deep this season, with Katie and Greg right alongside her. As a parent you wonder, how much do you get involved, and how much to just wish for the best and let them make their own decisions? You’ll just have to tune in to see what Katie and Greg do!
Looking into the future, how do you think you’ll deal with all the teen issues as a mom to your own tweens and teens?
Oh goodness, I don’t know!!! When that time comes, I’m trusting believing that my husband and I are going to navigate the best way possible, open honest communication and unconditional love while guiding them the very best way we know how.
What are your hopes for your own children as they grow into the tween and teen years?
I want King and Elektra to become exactly the people they are meant to be — if that means becoming musicians or going into science — whatever! I want them to have a confidence when they walk into any room, standing in their own light while bringing peace and love. I want them to know that there is no one like them in this world and that is incredibly powerful. My husband and I believe in them, and that with tenacity, determination and perseverance they can accomplish anything that their heart and mind dream of. I encourage them to be a light in this world and share with others respect and kindness. They’re both magical, and my husband and I are so very grateful. We love and adore them; Kingston and Elektra are our entire world.