The first two seasons largely concern the rivalry between Illeana and Justine, hired by IKEA, says Manager Erik (the wonderful Eric Lange), “to bring some show-biz sparkle to the store.” Illeana is a good-hearted person for whom everything is hard; Justine -- who hosts an in-store talk show called “40 and Bitter” -- the one to whom power comes easy.
“My character -- as I am in real life -- is in this bizarro, IKEA-like world," said Douglas. "She's terrified but keeps going somehow. And that is juxtaposed with Justine, who is doing the classic showbiz thing and knows how to handle fame.”
Justine to Illeana, who had hoped being named Co-Worker of the Year would make her popular: “I hope you're not basing your whole self-esteem on one stupid prize.”
Illeana: “Not all of it.”
Douglas, who began in stand-up comedy and dreamed of writing for "Saturday Night Live" before movies became her living, built “Easy to Assemble” as a kind of sequel to her 2007 web series “Supermarket of the Stars.” There, too, she played herself working a straight job.
“I think that as an actor you have to have an innate ability, like a caribou looking for moss on a tundra, to be thinking where your next job is coming from,” Douglas told me. “Supermarket” came out of the idea that “actors will always find a place to act, and maybe we'll be acting in supermarkets next. And when I met with IKEA, it was like a revelation because I was, like, 'Oooh, they have their own sets!' Eureka! I found my studio!"
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