In their new Amazon show, Armisen and Rudolph play a married couple—until they don’t. The comedians share their tips on how to live with a loved one.
Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph are taking things to the next level. The two longtime friends and collaborators, who repeatedly teamed up on Saturday Night Live, star in the terrific Amazon series Forever, which only came together because Armisen and Rudolph were actively hunting for an interesting new project. “I was like, I wish I knew someone who could come up with a great idea,” says Armisen. “And then someone came up with a great idea!”
In this case, “someone” turned out to be Master of None co-creator Alan Yang, who went to a breakfast meeting with Armisen and Rudolph and pitched a fascinating, beguiling idea that piqued the stars’ interest. In Forever, Armisen and Rudolph play a married couple who decide to shake things up by taking a ski trip, which dramatically alters the course of their relationship. That might sound vague, but this is what else I can tell you about the plot of Forever: Nothing! Just watch it. You won’t be disappointed.
Co-starring in Forever put the closeness of Armisen and Rudolph’s friendship to the test, and they passed with flying colors. They even considered renting a house together for the duration of the shooting at the ski lodge—but backed out when they realized it would be a “Shining situation,” with the two of them cooped up alone on a snowy mountain. “I think we’re tickled by how different we are—because we have so much in common, but we couldn’t be more opposite in lifestyles,” says Rudolph. “He’s so creatively motivated. He goes wherever work takes him. And as a human parent, I had to divide myself a long time ago and try to work with that.”
So what kind of lifestyle advice can we draw from these two vastly different humans who have forged such a lengthy and fruitful friendship? Between juggling families, roommates, and significant others, both Armisen and Rudolph have had more than enough experience to give us some candid advice about the ups and downs of cohabitation:
Armisen: Either a couch or a rug. It’s the center stage of your life together, so it should be a joint effort.
Rudolph: Definitely buy a new couch. There’s not one couple that has moved in together and been like, “I have this great couch. Let’s drag it from my old roommate’s apartment. You’re going to love it.” And if you don’t have a new mattress, buy one. And don’t skimp on it.
Armisen: If someone else is taking too much time in the bathroom, I have respect for it. Two hours. Three hours. I’m like, “You know what? That’s your time.” But I love the idea of multiple bathrooms. That is, like, the make-or-break of all relationships. It’s really underrated.
Rudolph: But if you’re sharing a bathroom, you’ve gotta give it up. My family’s one main bathroom is like a train station. And everyone needs a chance to pee before one person gets to take over.
Armisen: Morning is like real, primo bathroom time. Aside from whatever—the stuff that we all have to do—you’re getting ready for your day. All the dental stuff. Shaving, for guys. There’s a lot, because until tomorrow, this is it. Do it all correctly.
Rudolph: Most of the time, my TV is turned to TCM. And I just watch whatever’s on that. But [if my partner is holding the remote], I let it go. It’s not worth the stress. There’s way more enthusiasm on his part, so it’s like, “Go for it. Live your life. Enjoy.” But I do notice, when we are watching something that’s going on for way too long, I look over and he’s just dead asleep. That’s most of the time. I’m usually the one searching for the remote in the bed to turn off the TV.
Armisen: It’s become so easy to watch stuff that you never really need to fight for the TV. We all like companionship, but everyone’s got their own way of watching stuff on their iPad.
Rudolph: You know, I just learned “Netflix and chill.” I thought it meant come over and watch Netflix! My 25-year-old cousin had to come over and explain it to me.
Rudolph: That sounds like a fight waiting to happen. Don’t do that. If you look over the grocery bill to see who eats what, you’ve got problems already. Money is very stressful. If there’s a way to not pick a fight over bills, do it. And if someone says, “You ate all the turkey bacon,” you should just say, “Fuck you!” and walk out the door. And then you never have to talk about it.
Armisen: This whole who’s buying what? That’s no way to have a house. At the end of your life, you will look back and go, “Why did I waste time splitting up who owes what? Who cares?” Just buy lots of stuff. Have snacks. Be welcoming.
Rudolph: Establish whose side of the bed is whose. And if that’s an issue? You might have to take a hit.
Armisen: Snoring? It’s fine. Everyone snores.
Rudolph: I hate garbage chores. It’s just lifting shit, going outside… I’m not interested.
Armisen: I love taking out the garbage and the recycling. I really love making sure that it’s done the right way. I like washing dishes. I don’t mind vacuuming. I don’t mind laundry, but I think I’m not good at that. I don’t know what it is.
Rudolph: Rodent removal, that is off my list. A mouse or a dead rat, or something like that? That’s not my job.
Armisen: I’ll say I’m getting better. I used to have the tendency to be passive-aggressive. I’d stay quiet, thinking I was being a real hero. But I’ve become better at expressing myself.
Rudolph: Decide: Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy? We all go into a relationship idealizing it. Thinking, “We’re going to agree on everything.” Some people think that translates to this idea of “Yes, dear.” Which is so fucked up. “Yes, dear. Whatever you say, dear.” No. No one is asking you to become a feeling-less drone, going “Whatever the man says!” or “Whatever the woman says!” But when you know you’re right about something and the other person is struggling to see it—you can allow that moment to pass and say, “I’ll take what I can get.”
Armisen: The other thing I’ve been trying to do is let go a little bit. If there’s something I disagree with, I’ll say my peace and drop it. It’s the strangest thing. The more I try to control everything…there’s never any satisfaction in that. It just becomes more tense.
Rudolph: You’re never going to be right all the time. If you can resolve something before bed, without letting it hang over you in the morning like a dusty fart cloud, do it.
This interview has been edited and condensed.