Courteney Cox Says She's Not a Cool Mom, Daughter Finds Her Instagram 'So Annoying'

Courteney Cox and Greg Kinnear play atypical embarrassing parents in their new comedy horror Shining Vale, a role which is a little too close to home for them.

Created by Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe) and Jeff Astrof (Friends), Shining Vale follows a family trying to repair some adulterous wounds by moving out of the city and into a small town where their new home turns out to be extremely haunted. The scary sitcom begins with two episodes airing on Starz on Sunday March 6.

Newsweek interviewed Cox and Kinnear, who play the parents of two troublesome teens in Shining Vale, as well as the creators Astrof and Horgan.

Embarrassing parents

Cox plays Pat Phelps, an adult fiction writer suffering with writer's block, while Kinnear plays her wronged husband Terry. After Pat ends her brief steamy affair, the couple attempt to repair their relationship by moving the entire family to the town of Shining Vale. All the while their kids (Gus Birney and Dylan Gage) target their derision at mom and dad for being embarrassing parents—something that Cox and Kinnear admit they know all too well.

"I think I'm really cool," Cox told Newsweek, "And Coco, especially with my Instagram, she thinks I'm the biggest nerd and so annoying. So I can relate a little bit to this character."

Cox's daughter Coco Arquette watches on as her mom frequently uploads videos to her 12 million Instagram followers. The content ranges from recreating "The Routine" from Friends with Ed Sheeran, to putting a genuine turkey on her head for Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately Kinnear thinks he's just as uncool to his three kids, despite his best efforts. He told Newsweek, "I try. Damn do I try. I'm giving it everything I got. Using all the gas in the tank, but I'm not cool and no matter what I do, I'm never gonna be cool and I've learned that.

"And by the way, it's humbling but it's also empowering when you finally get over that," he said.

Shining Vale Phelps family
Greg Kinnear, Gus Birney, Dylan Gage and Courteney Cox play the Phelps family in "Shining Vale." STARZ

Themes of mental illness

Shining Vale opens with an eye-catching analogy. The show compares mental illness with being possessed by a ghost, something which becomes the central premise of the show.

"It was right there on the very first page that was ever written," Horgan told Newsweek.

Astrof agreed and explained his reasons for wanting to team up with his writing partner, "Somebody told me Sharon Horgan wants to do like The Shining as a comedy, I was in, but once I saw that first page I was just like 'Oh my God this is fantastic', and you could do such a deep dive on that.

Shining Vale Mira Sorvino and Courteney Cox
Pat (Cox) comes face to face with her ghost Rosemary (Sorvino) in a still from "Shining Vale." STARZ

"We shot it and wrote it in such a way that you can look back and say, 'Oh, she was clearly possessed' or 'Oh, she's just mentally ill' and that was really, really the challenge but also the the fun of it."

Combining the horror and comedy aspects so seamlessly, Cox believes the creators are really on to something with Shining Vale. "I do think this is genre-bending," she said, "It's not your typical slasher thing but it's funny, like Scream, it's not just a straight down the middle comedy, it actually is a dark comedy, but it's very real, but it can also be silly."

Horgan wanted Cox's character Pat to take viewers on her unusual journey in Shining Vale. "The show could seem like a little sort of broad and crazy on paper but that's why it works so well, because you really feel what she's going through. Horgan added, "We really wanted it to be grounded and weirdly kind of believable."

Shooting during COVID

Shining Vale was shot in Los Angeles throughout the first half of 2021 by which point COVID-19 protocols had been firmly implemented across the industry.

Kinnear noted that while he loved collaborating with Cox and the other actors for the first time, there may have been something missing. "Courteney and I hadn't worked together before and I really enjoyed all the actors that we had on this but I can't imagine how much better it would have been if I didn't have a mask and a plastic shield over my face when I was hanging out at craft services trying to get a cup of coffee," Kinnear said.

Shining Vale Greg Kinnear and Courteney Cox
Greg Kinnear and Courteney Cox play a couple trying to repair their relationship in the Starz series "Shining Vale." STARZ

"I think everything is completely changing," Cox said. "Besides it being a bummer to have to wear a mask, except for the actors, you don't get to know the crew like you would normally. I think it's a little way you lose that family feel."

"How much better would things be without this?" Kinnear pondered, "and of course, they'd be infinitely better. But you know TV shows, as much as any other industry, requires immediacy and intimacy with the people around you. Ours really has that so until we get to the other side of this, I just think it's an unfortunate reality."

Shining Vale begins on Starz on Sunday March 6 with two new episodes. Each subsequent episode will air one at a time every Sunday.

Shining Vale poster
Courteney Cox, Greg Kinnear and Mira Sorvino in the promotional poster for "Shining Vale." STARZ