15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Baskets’

The show that gave us one of the best sitcom mothers
15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Baskets’

In January 2016, FX’s Baskets gave us a glimpse into the life of Chip Baskets, who wants to be a professional clown but ends up entertaining folks at rodeos instead. Co-created by Louis C.K., Zach Galifianakis and Jonathan Krisel, the show lasted four seasons, endured the departure of C.K. following his whole basket of garbage and made Louie Anderson the unlikely mother of all TV moms. 

Here are tidbits about the series where Galifianakis plays twin brothers Chip and Dale, and no one ever learns why Martha has that arm cast…

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Louie Anderson Based His Performance on His Mom

The late comedian played Chip and Dale’s mother, Christine Baskets, with absolute aplomb and was open about basing the enduring character on his own mother, who was no longer with him. “I really loved playing this part for a big reason that my mom gets to come to life,” he told NPR back in 2016. The experience led him to write a book about their relationship in 2018 called Hey Mom: Stories for My Mother, But You Can Read Them Too.

The Season Two Fight Scene Was Originally Going to Last for Two Episodes

In the second season, there’s an ambitious little fight scene between the twin brothers that, according to Galifianakis, was originally going to span two episodes. “That whole episode, we wanted to do the fight the whole episode,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “We wanted to see if we could get away with making the whole episode a fight, and then when you watch the next episode, the fight continues, but that was so ambitious. Yeah, that little fight scene, it’s just ambitious. Sometimes I’ll drive home from work, and I do ask myself if I’m masochistic.”

Falling Down the State Capitol Stairs Was a Riot

Anderson told GoldDerby that they couldn’t stop laughing during the scene at the Capitol Building. “When we fall down the state Capitol steps, for me, it was so funny,” he remembered. “Every time Zach would go to pull me up, he would fall down, on top of me, on purpose. It would just make me laugh so much. It was funny with the outfits we wore and how crazy we were about the whole fiasco.”

No, Costco and Arby’s Weren’t Sponsoring the Show

Throughout the series, Costco and Arby’s were either mentioned or featured prominently, leading to speculation that the companies sponsored Baskets. Co-creator and director Jonathan Krisel, however, explained that “we just wrote it into the script and then asked them if we could do it. There’s no money involved. We’re not advertising for them, but it’s more about the authenticity of having the real thing and not having it be a fake brand. And both of them were accommodating in that we’re not celebrating them; we’re not making fun.”

Galifianakis Wrote Christine Baskets with Anderson in Mind

Galifianakis told Marc Maron on his podcast that while developing the character, he could hear Mama Baker speaking in Anderson’s voice. That led to them casting the comedian who would soon become one of TV sitcoms’ most beloved mom characters.

’Baskets’ Was Martha Kelly’s First Acting Experience

The comedian — who would go on to pop up in everything from Euphoria to Hacks to a Spider-Man movie — told The A.V. Club that Galifianakis called her up out of nowhere to offer her a part in the show’s pilot. She said she had no idea why. 

Dale’s Voice Was a Gag Long in the Making

It turns out that Dale’s voice was a persona Galifianakis had developed during high school “that kind of came out of nowhere.” He first channeled said voice into his Funny or Die character, Seth Galifianakis, until the character found a home playing Chip’s insufferable twin brother in Baskets.

The Show Won an Emmy

Anderson won Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 2016, also taking home the Critics’ Choice Award that same year. Anderson, Galifianakis and the show were nominated for various awards between 2016 and 2018.

The Visual Differences Between Chip and Dale

To get Galifianakis to sport two different looks for his twin brother characters, head of makeup Heather Ford said that they had to come up with the most practical effects to change the actor’s look in minimum time. “We knew they were each going to have the beard since we didn’t want to chase after a beard coming unglued with the weather, so we knew we had to keep (Galifianakis’) look the same and just make some subtle changes,” Ford told the New York Post.

Besides the different hairstyles, it was the beards that were the main focus: “Even though Dale is way off the mark, he puts the effort into his appearance. We were like, ‘Why don’t we take the gray out of his facial hair?’ So I just cover up all of the gray as if he dyes his beard. He’s more vain (than Chip). That’s the main (physical) difference between the two characters. I do use a little more makeup on the Dale character. Chip is supposed to have darker circles under his eyes, whereas Dale is more vain and works at it a little better.”

Louis C.K. Convinced Galifianakis to Do Television

Galifianakis told Variety when the show premiered in 2016 that the now-disgraced comedian got him into doing television. “I wasn’t sitting around daydreaming about being on television,” Galifianakis revealed. “Then Louis called me, and it seemed to make sense. He told me, ‘Look, this network will leave you alone. You don’t have to go to meetings.’ I’m not a business person. I write dumb jokes for a living. That was very attractive to me that Louis said there’s a nice freedom they give you, and it turned out to be true. He also told me how he approached his show. I said, ‘Louis, I’m not sure I have the discipline to write arcs.’ Louis, to his credit, said, ‘Just start writing scenes.’ And I did. I started writing little sketches that we figured out how to glue together. It was a very easy decision to make.”

Galifianakis Knew the Show Wasn’t for Everyone

Speaking to NPR in 2017, Galifianakis explained that the show was a mixed bag. “It’s just a weird mix. It’s not for everybody. ... That is the first thing I say to people,” he said. “Well, firstly, I usually say, you know, ‘I’m in it. Don’t watch it.’ And then I say, ‘It is an acquired taste.’ And that was the point.”

Christine Baskets Sparked Discussion Over Plus Size Women on Television


While viewers did feel that Anderson’s character was fairly complex and not played up for mockery, it did ignite discussion around the representation of female plus-sized characters on television. Even more so when given that the show did a great job portraying Mother Baskets with nuance and without defining her through her physical appearance.

There Wasn’t a Lot of Improv on the Show

Galifianakis explained that while they did allow everyone to throw a joke around every now and then, there wasn’t time to shoot the show using tons of improv. They mostly focused on the characters’ arcs and stuck to the scripts as much as possible.

The Series Finale Was Written Twice

Krisel told Deadline that there was originally a whole different draft for the final episode of the series. However, they soon realized that they had a couple of unanswered questions to address — Martha’s mysterious cast, the big “will they, won’t they” situation between Chip and Martha — which led to them having to rewrite the entire episode to provide at least some of those answers. Sorta.

Anderson Had a Hard Time Filming the Final Season

The actor told Decider that he had to leave the set “three or four times” during the finale because it was so emotional for him. One moment he brought up was Christine and Ken’s big wedding day. “I thought to myself, was my mom ever this happy? And so it just crushed me,” Anderson explained.

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