Rare is the modern-day It girl without snobbery or artifice. But then again, Katherine Parkinson isn’t your average It girl. She’s an IT girl — all caps — who isn’t so precious about her Brit hit The IT Crowd that she’d dismiss the upcoming U.S. remake for NBC.
“I think it’s a great idea. People get very possessive about their homegrown comedy. But it’s absurd,” says Parkinson, who played inept tech manager Jen Barber for four seasons.
“Americans, in my opinion, and Canadians — my god, even more so — very much know their comedy. And I think it’s healthy to do their own versions.
“What doesn’t work is when you take try to rehash the original with (local) actors. For instance, the American version of The Office is a completely original show while also being a remake.”
Parkinson’s current series, the British-American co-production Humans, is another example. Airing its Season 1 finale Sunday on AMC, it’s based on the award-winning Swedish drama Real Humans, about a society in which humanoid assistants called Synths develop human traits.
“There’s no denying it has an original voice and original atmosphere, but it is also a remake,” says Parkinson.
The actress plays a mom initially skeptical of the Synth brought in as a nanny for her children, and the show couldn’t have come along at a more fitting time for her. She took on the part of Laura Hawkins weeks after giving birth to her one-year-old, Gwendolyn.
“I was feeling very strange being apart from her and my other one (Dora, now age three). I think it meant that I had a lot of empathy for Laura’s situation and her Synth, this other being looking after her children,” she says, speaking from her home in the U.K.
“I went away to work and left them with someone else, and then had to play scenes where my character felt threatened. I couldn’t have been in a better or worse place.”
As if on cue, Gwendolyn squeals as Parkinson’s part-time nanny — human, not Synth — arrives to mind the children. Parkinson and her husband are set for a rare night out. Not that you can expect a shiny, happy selfie to grace Twitter as proof later.
“I don’t do social media, but I’m an admirer of it. I think it’s the most amazing, democratic tool and all the rest of it. But I would just spend too long trying to be interesting and funny and waste everyone’s time.”
In an age of self-documentation and tech-validation, the questions Humans raises about what it means to be, well, human seem particularly important.
“The things I like most about this show are the discussions of ethics. Sometimes the A.I. takes over a little bit, which is also fascinating and zeitgeisty and relevant, but I love that it explores all these other things too,” says Parkinson, who also starred in last year’s spy miniseries The Honorable Woman.
“That’s why Humans doesn’t feel like your typical sci-fi. It also makes you think about the way we treat people that we think are doing more menial jobs. That’s something I hope we explore more in the second season.”
As for this Sunday’s finale, Parkinson’s happy with where Laura and her family leave off as viewers wait for Season 2 to debut next year.
“We hoped there wouldn’t be a complete resolution, and that it didn’t come across as a happily ever after. It makes things more complicated and less typical. And Laura is quite an unresolved and complicated person.”
Humans airs its Season 1 finale Sunday on AMC