So it went for writer Claudia Lonow, a one-time stand-up comic who has taken that experience, filtered it through a Hollywood lens, and is now letting it unfold on primetime. Her new show, "How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)," premiering Wednesday night on ABC, is loosely based on her own "boomeranger" story.
The show, which stars Sarah Chalke (of "Scrubs" fame), finds the funny in an increasingly common side effect of the recession.
"I moved in a long time ago when the economy was great, not everyone was doing it. I was ahead of my time in terms of bottoming out in my '30s," the executive producer tells Shine.
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And while not everyone's family are showbiz people like Lonow's clan -- her stepfather, Mark Lonow, is co-owner of the Improv Comedy Clubs and her mother Jo Anne Astrow is a stand-up comedian-turned-manager -- Lonow's situation is not some Tinseltown fiction. According to a Pew Research Center survey, the "share of Americans living in multi-generational family households is the highest it has been since the 1950s," and 29% of young adults ages 25-34 live with mom and dad.
Lonow -- who began her entertainment career as a teen actress on "Knots Landing" and has an admirable track record of creating female protagonists -- actually still lives with her parents. Her key tactics for surviving the not-always-merry transition back into the nest, in her own words:
Who wouldn't want to be played by Sarah Chalke? The actress and Claudia Lonow. ©(ABC/ERIC MCCANDLESS)
Dating is complicated
"If you want to date, you need a guy that has his own apartment. He needs to not be living in a compromised situation. I did go out on a date with a lovely handsome man who is a spinning instructor who lived in a studio apartment in the back where you [couldn't] make any noise. He was in very good shape but I thought, 'Honey, why are you so anxious about this date? He's a spinning instructor who lives in a closet.'"
Three strikes and you're out?
"Dating was very challenging at first. To be a single mother, that's already difficult when you're dating, AND you're living with your parents? It's not a green light that this is a fantastic situation. I would call the early period of my dating comedic."
VIDEO: Sarah Chalke Learns "How to Live With Your Parents"
Sit back and watch old-school gender roles in action
"My stepfather fixes all the stuff around the house. He loves to do that. If there's a dead rat in the attic, he goes up there."
Your child's palette is up for grabs
"My daughter is not a picky eater because my parents made it their business to make sure she had a sophisticated palette by bribing her to taste weird food. My stepfather would pay her money to taste caviar 'cause they wanted to be able to take her to fancy restaurants."
What's yours is mine is yours
"My daughter is constantly pissed off at my mom for eating her food. I've had my mom open my mail. My stepfather is insane about turning off the lights. I pay half the electricity bill but he'll go into my bedroom and turn off the lights."
Selfie by Claudia L. at Hugo's West Hollywood.It will never, ever be about you
"My parents were never that into catering to a child. They were very sort of 'Ice Storm' in Greenwich Village. When I was a kid, the parents were the focus and then when I became an adult, kids are the focus. It's like I've never been the focus, it's always someone else who's the center of attention."
Bad things (don't always) happen, but be prepared just in case
"Even when I started to do well I always had a sneaking suspicion like everything could fall apart. I had a sense of dread. I had a 'what if bad things happen' motive. That's how it spiraled into such a long period of time."
Grandparents, grandchildren, and incontinence do mix
"One time I was at work and [my daughter] Izzy had a urinating yourself incident at school. My mom was home so she went down to take her some new clothes. She said, 'You know what honey, it happens to me. I understand. Many a time I have wet my pants and even sh** myself. No need to be embarrassed.'
Hard times breed good work
"It helps to not have any other options. I did not go to college. For me the thing that has helped is to be flexible to not be attached, not feel entitled...I wrote that pilot [Lonow's previous series, Showtime's "Rude Awakening"] at night after my daughter would fall asleep. We were sleeping on my parents' floor. It's like a J.K. Rowling story. I was struggling beyond struggling, I wrote this pilot at night after my daughter went to sleep, it got picked up and ran for three years."