A.P. Bio Stars Glenn Howerton And Patton Oswalt Talk Character Growth And Absurdity With Heart [Interview]

The fourth season of "A.P. Bio" is available today exclusively on Peacock. All eight episodes of the comedy series are out now for your binge-watching pleasure, and fans will be interested to see how Jack Griffin (Glenn Howerton) evolves and regresses throughout this season. But Jack isn't the only one coming to terms with his place in life, because Principal Durbin (Patton Oswalt) gets a chance to make some changes in his life as well. 

For the fourth season of "A.P. Bio," we talked with both Glenn Howerton and Patton Oswalt about how their characters have grown, the direction of the series after four seasons, and the challenge of creating absurd comedy with genuine heart.

Growth, Absurdity, and Heart

This season begins with quite a blow for Jack by having Lynette leaving him. It felt like she was a big key to Jack becoming a little less bitter and warming up to Toledo. So why did that relationship get upended like that?

Glenn Howerton: You mean from a story standpoint?


Howerton: Jack is a complicated guy, obviously, and I think one of the things that's beautiful about Jack and Lynette is that they are so completely and totally different. I think that she's able to kind of call him out on his BS in a way that almost nobody else is. And that's a beautiful thing. But at the same time, there is always tension there between their differing views on Toledo and just life in general. I think because of that tension, they end up taking a break on the show, which is really sad, and I think really throws Jack for a loop.

Do you think that there's room for Lynette to maybe come back in some capacity? Or has that ship sailed?

Howerton: No, I think there's definitely room for her to come back, and certainly from the standpoint of what we got. I mean, we just love Liz Alderfer, the actress. She's the best. I mean, she's the best person but also just so incredibly talented. I love that character. I think that character is so strange and so odd in all the best possible ways. And I would love to have her back.

You guys have such great banter with each other. It's just a constant firing back and forth.

Howerton: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Patton, Durbin is obviously this bumbling sort of authority figure, but he has this hapless charm to him. What keeps him interesting as a character for you?

Patton Oswalt: One of the things that the writers do with him is that he is one of those people that is constantly trying to up his coolness, up his worldliness. But he's constantly in battle with how Zen he is about what his place in life is. But every now and then he feels that call of the wild to try to expand his boundaries, which I think is a real ongoing thing for a lot of people. And the way that, again, our writing staff fires on such weird cylinders, that when they get an idea, they will go about it in the strangest [way]. You will take the strangest path to that idea. So a lot of times, reading these scripts when they come in, I'm just like, "Oh wow, that first act starts off — well, I've seen this plot before," but then they're doing that so they can throw you later with where it goes, which I just love.

You talked about how kind of wild the writing staff can get, and this show reminds me of "30 Rock" in how it balances absurd comedy with genuine heart. What's the biggest challenge in finding that balance where there's genuine emotion and heart at play, but the comedy is also still very silly?

Howerton: Personally, I think for this show, the characters themselves, with the exception of Jack, are so not cynical and they're just so inherently likable and lovable and so enthusiastic and positive, you can't help but sort of really love — if you love Jack, you love Jack because you see the fragile ego. You see that he's a good man who's trying desperately to be this elitist person who's above it all, and I think you sort of love him for it. You feel bad for him, because you're like, "Oh, I wish you could just be your true, authentic self and give in and know that it's okay to live in Toledo and find love there and have friends there."

So the comedy comes from that place, but it's also the thing that I think endears you to the characters. I think that's a performer thing too. I mean, I think frankly, Patton and Paula [Pell] and the kids, they're all such lovely people in real life, that even if they are trying to be jerks or whatever, there's always going to be a sweetness that comes through,

Has the direction of the series surprised you at all when you look back at the first season and then see where it is now?

Oswalt: Well, I really love what they've done with Jack's story, where they, absurd as it is, it actually follows a real human arc, where he is very openly hostile towards Toledo in the first season. Then in the second season, he's treating Toledo like he's Margaret Mead on Samoa, like, "I'm just going to observe this primitive culture." And then in third season, he's in denial about it, where he's, subconsciously I think, he's actually kind of liking Toledo. But he's got to keep up this facade of, "I'm still observing. I'm still apart, and I will eventually leave." Then the fourth season is when he is, especially some of the stuff with Lynette, kind of feeling some real emotions and struggling with that, because he's just not a guy that likes emotions and sincerity. So watching this arc has been fascinating and just really well done.

Patton Oswalt Wants Glenn Howerton as Green Lantern

Glenn, one thing I wanted to touch upon as we get to the end here is I know you auditioned for "Guardians of the Galaxy" awhile back. I was wondering if you still had any interest in tackling a comic book role like that.

Howerton: Yeah, I think that would be super, super fun. Listen, why else am I going to the gym? I guess that's my question. That's a question that I ask myself everytime I go. Why am I doing it? What am I doing? There's not a single character that I've ever played that calls for this. You know what I mean? I guess I'm doing it because I'm trying to be healthy. But let's be honest, why am I really doing it? The reason I'm really doing it is in case I have to do something where I take my shirt off. I would love to do a Marvel character, because it would justify all the years in the gym. If for no other reason than to just be like, "Yes, look, I've done it." I want to be able to take my shirt off and just be covered in oil or grease or whatever the hell they put on themselves to have it all down-lit where all the shadows are there. Man, who wouldn't want that?"

Oswalt: Glenn did not study acting so that he couldn't starve himself for three days, water-fast 12 hours before the shot, slam a Diet Coke so that your veins get really pumped, take the shot, and then pass out. That's why we do those shots. That's why you get into acting.

Howerton: That's why you do it. That's why I went to Juilliard.

Patton, with your vast comic book knowledge, is there anybody you think that he could play in the Marvel universe?

Oswalt: Well, you know what's amazing, there's actually a character in the DC universe that would be perfect for him. It's not the Hal Jordan Green Lantern but the Guy Gardner Green Lantern. He would be amazing. The whole idea — this would be so brilliant, and if they did it they would have another 'Deadpool' on their hands — the whole point of being the Green Lantern is that you have to be without fear and completely honest. That's the only way you can wear the ring. Having no fear and being completely honest doesn't necessarily mean you're a good person. So the second Green Lantern is a guy named Guy Gardner, who is genuinely afraid of nothing and completely honest, like, "Oh hey, you gained some weight, dude." He doesn't understand that there's things you shouldn't do. But he's also an awesome Green Lantern. He's the best one because he truly doesn't have any of that fear. And Glenn would be amazing playing that. The Guardians [of the Universe] are like, "I don't really know if we made the ring for this reason, but he is the best Green Lantern?" So that would be an amazing character to play.

Howerton: We should pitch it, Patton.

Oswalt: Yeah. Get your people over at DC. If DC wants a "Deadpool," they gotta do Guy Gardner with Glenn Howerton. That's your movie right there.

The fourth season of "A.P. Bio" is available to stream in its entirety on Peacock right now.