Fans of comedy team Broken Lizard’s work can get a weekly dose of their raunchy and fun style with tonight’s premiere of Tacoma FD on truTV. Broken Lizard’s Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme co-created the weekly comedy series that follows a group of firefighters keeping themselves busy in a city constantly besieged by rain. There to join them on each adventure is Dallas-born and raised actress Hassie Harrison.
Harrison is a name you’re sure to see more of in the upcoming years, with turns in such films as the horror anthology Southbound, the horror-thriller Dementia and a recurring role on the CW series Hart of Dixie. The role of new recruit firefighter Lucy was something Harrison was enthusiastic to play, as Tacoma FD allows the opportunity for her to stretch her legs comedically in an ensemble environment.
“All five of those guys treat me like a (little sister) and they’re so kind to me and so generous,” Harrison says. “When I do an improv thing, they’re going around, ‘Say that thing again, that was so funny,’ or ‘That look you did, do that again.’ I have so many cool mentors helping me navigate this wild west of a genre.”
While her career is moving at a fast pace now, Harrison initially took her time before making the move from Dallas to Los Angeles. Harrison’s mother was heavily involved in the Dallas Children’s Theater, and she recalls growing up in an environment where theater and acting were encouraged. She performed in productions at Dallas Children’s Theater, and studied European cinema at SMU, following advice from her cousin to get an education and grow as a person before making the move to a city that can be destructive on inexperienced talent.
Anything that comes from two of the minds that brought audiences Super Troopers and Beerfest is sure to come with a few good-natured but raunchy jokes, and while Tacoma FD is toned down for a TV audience, it maximizes the restrictions of basic cable. Not one to be intimidated by an extreme sight gag or crass one-liner, it didn’t take long before Harrison was becoming the lost Broken Lizard member on set.
Not one to be intimidated by an extreme sight gag or crass one-liner, it didn’t take long before Harrison was becoming the lost Broken Lizard member on set.
“By episode 10 I’m so dropped in and one of the dudes, Steve was like, ‘Damn girl, you’re basically a Broken Lizard now,’” Harrison says. “I had this one dramatic scene, he was like, ‘Ooh that’s great, now do it Broken Lizard dramatic.’ And he was dying laughing. He was like, ‘You nailed it, that’s it!’ I think I’m getting more and more comfortable with that, and just, myself.”
While Tacoma FD is filled with physical comedy, there is a progressive message of inclusion in a workplace in the episodes. The introduction of Harrison’s Lucy character is a learning lesson for the other characters in the male-dominated workplace that is the fire station, and the arcs of each character's comfort, or lack thereof, with the presence of a new female recruit is tempered so as not to become preachy or obvious. By each member of the Tacoma FD crew organically communicating their feelings, the show provides an unlikely pillar of support in equality.
“I think the coolest thing about my character is she’s really good at what she does,” Harrison says. “And she is a badass. I feel so honored to portray female firefighters, because there are a lot of them. If they had made me a girl that was less adequate or whatever but … The best part is I’m the best firefighter. Maybe not the best, but they wrote me in a way where I do fit in perfectly with the group, and the ways in which we tackle those subjects are brought with a lightness and fun-ness. Everybody getting along and moving through that territory in a loving way, which is what I feel like it should be in real life anyway.”
Tacoma FD premieres at 9:30 p.m. tonight on truTV.