Grasie Mercedes is reading all your #Fanthony tweets. The Grand Crew star has been keeping a close eye on social media since the show started airing, particularly paying attention to fan reactions to the romance building between her character, Fay, and Anthony (Aaron Jennings). In Season 1, the two became Grand Crew’s will-they/won’t-they pairing, and after acting more like enemies than friends throughout the March 24 episode “Wine and Ojai,” the two get together.
“I think that just made it a little more fun so that it wasn’t too easy,” Mercedes tells Primetimer. “When you see Episode 2 where Anthony is texting with Fay and Talia [Anthony’s ex, played by Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins] kind of keeps note, I think that in Episode 3 when he admits that to Fay and kind of blames Fay for their breakup, it’s like a fun surprise. Because I think for a lot of people, at least from people’s reactions on Twitter, they expected him to be like, ‘We broke up, now it’s you and me!’”
Instead, Anthony’s confession prompted Fay and Anthony to actively ignore each other until, after a day spent sipping wine in Ojai and jumping over a wall to avoid getting caught trespassing, they give in and kiss. It’s not the pairing that Mercedes expected when joining the show, but it’s now the one that seems the most obvious. She first auditioned opposite Echo Kellum, who plays Noah, and assumed the two of them would be the series’s core romantic pairing.
“I brought it up to Phil [Augusta Jackson, Grand Crew showrunner] and he was like, ‘No actually, if we do anything like that, it’s not going to be with Noah,’” Mercedes says. “And so when I found out it was with Anthony, I was like, ‘Oh, this makes so much sense!’ At that point Aaron and I had already started hanging out and becoming really good friends, and so we were really excited about the potential of this budding relationship.”
That switch is part of what makes Grand Crew an exciting sitcom to watch. While the show still acknowledges many sitcom tropes, it has a way of turning them on their heads. The series pilot established Noah as a hopeless romantic searching for the one, and when he meets Fay in Season 1, Episode 2, he thinks that fate has brought them together. But instead of setting Noah up to spend the rest of the season, or even series, pursuing her, most of the ensuing episodes focus on the entire group — Noah, Fay, Anthony, Nicky (Nicole Byer), Sherm (Carl Tart), and Wyatt (Justin Cunningham) — building on their friendships, ending up in every combination of pairings for each episode’s hijinks along the way.
So when Fay admitted to having feelings for Anthony in Season 1, Episode 9, “Wine & Vineyards,” it came as a surprise, both to the audience and to Nicky, who was the first to hear. But because the chemistry and genuine connection between the two was established through that growing friendship, Fay’s strong emotions felt much more warranted and natural than other sitcom will-they/won’t-theys that are based on an ongoing hatred or the pull of a forbidden love. Even when Fay and Anthony try their best to hate each other and ice each other out, their comfortability with each other is what allows them to let their guards down and give things a shot.
But things could still go awry for #Fanthony. It’s already been established that Fay isn’t looking for anything serious while still working through her divorce-induced dry spell — hooking up with a friend she sees regularly doesn’t necessarily fit into the one-and-done sex plan she had in mind.
We can look to Mercedes and Jennings’ real lives for some clues of where the relationship may go. Grand Crew creator Phil Augusta Jackson has a habit of pulling true stories and dynamics from every actor’s real life into the series. Fay’s dating storyline in Episode 3, “Wine & Neighbors,” mirrors Mercedes' own dating experiences.
“I’m also newly single, and at the time it had been about a year and a half and I was expressing to Phil how at the beginning, I just wanted to have sex and have fun and how many guys were not about that,” Mercedes says. “The whole, ‘I like you too much, I don’t want to sleep with you,’ like the first date on Episode 3, that totally happened to me. The whole ‘I have a girlfriend’ or ‘I’m still in love with my ex-girlfriend,’ I’ve had that happened to me. I have not had ‘Can I get a piece of your skin?’ Thank god.”
There’s also still the matter of Talia, who Anthony doesn’t seem to be completely over. And Mercedes sees everyone’s tweets about #Tanthony, too.
“There are a couple people who have been like ‘I don’t know, I really like Talia better,’ and I’m like, ‘OK fine! I get it! I really like Ashley, too!’” Mercedes says with a laugh, adding that that’s the extent of the hate her character has received online. “It’s been really cool to see people so supportive of Fanthony.”
Grand Crew airs Fridays at 8:30 PM ET on NBC and streams on Peacock the next day. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.
Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R.
TOPICS: Grasie Mercedes, NBC, Grand Crew, Aaron Jennings, Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins, Echo Kellum, Phil Augusta Jackson