Jason Scott Lee & Kathleen Rose Perkins Interview: Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.
Medicine often serves as a pathway to matters of the heart in Doogie Kameāloha, M.D., which premieres on Disney+ September 8. If the new show sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a reboot of the iconic Doogie Howser from the late 80s. Peyton Elizabeth Lee (Andi Mack) stars as Lahela “Doogie” Kameāloha, a wunderkind who must juggle her life as a doctor with her personal life as a teenage girl.
Thankfully she’s got a loving family to help her through it, although that doesn’t come without its own baggage. Her father Benny (Jason Scott Lee, Mulan) is a Hawaiian native who is beloved by the whole town, and he firmly believes in positive vibes even when he worries too much about his little girl. Meanwhile, her mother Claire (Kathleen Rose Perkins, I Am Not Okay With This) is Irish Catholic and still adjusting to life outside Pennsylvania – and to the fact that her daughter is also her employee at the hospital.
Lee and Perkins spoke to Screen Rant about how each of their characters approaches their parenting duties and how the series explores the family bonds at the heart of the story.
Screen Rant: Kathleen, I think the mix of cultures in the show is really interesting. What is your take on Dr. Hannon coming in as almost the outsider here? She’s the one that came to Hawaii, and now she’s raising her kids and working here.
Kathleen Rose Perkins: Yeah, I think she had to have a good sense of humor. She’s got some really strange stuff from her background, as we all do. Pennsylvania has this whole scrapple thing, and it’s the same thing as spam for Hawaii.
But we have to be able to kid each other and tease each other in love, obviously, with much respect – and I think that was a really easy way in when she married Benny. Benny is much loved throughout the entire island, and she kind of rides on his coattails and learns from him on how to be a proper Hawaiian. But she never forgets that she is a transplant, obviously – and what a wonderful place to be a transplant in.
Benny, on the other hand, seems so carefree and ready to give love all the time. How does that translate not only to his marriage but also to his parenting style?
Jason Scott Lee: I think that the kids kind of follow suit. You sort of lead by example, rather than by word. I think that’s Benny’s take: if you’re gonna raise kids with a good attitude or a positive sense of being, it’s good to get into positive things.
I think that’s such a great plus, to be able to show that, as well as supporting that emotion in the family, always having that perspective and putting things in perspective and – and actually having the natural elements around to be able to do that. In other places, maybe it’d be a hike in the woods or something or a walk by the creek. But here, we have the Pacific Ocean, and you have these beautiful mountains and green and temperate climates. So, you can do it just about any time of year.
I love that there is a complicated mix of emotions, of good moments and bad moments, with the kids – Lahela especially. Kathleen, can you talk about the clash of working together, but also obviously loving each other?
Kathleen Rose Perkins: Well, that’s the thing. You’re constantly juggling, “What hat am I wearing? Am I being your daughter? Am I being your mother? Am I being your boss? Am I being your colleague?” It’s very confusing, and it definitely keeps both of them on their toes. But I think they’re the type of people who thrive on the hardness of life, or the difficulty, and they just want to fix it. They’re fixers, and they’re doers.
I loved working with Peyton, and I love the relationship that the writers built for these two women because it’s a really complicated one. They’re not just mother-daughter, they’re also colleagues, which is just really special and hard and intricate and complicated. And I loved every minute of playing it because Peyton’s amazing to work with – but also, they wrote this really beautiful relationship between two women that I really loved playing.
The other thing that I love is that we were always a unified front, me and Benny. And there were many times where our children – even though we were teaching them, they taught us a lot of lessons. Throughout the course of the 10 episodes, there were moments where both of our sons and our daughter came to us and were like, “Come on, Mom. Come on, Dad. You’re better than this.”
Doogie Kameāloha, M.D. premieres September 8 on Disney+.