'Mixology': Adan Canto, Frankie Shaw defend the alleged premiere 'rape joke,' tease their 'shocking' episode

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mixology-adan-canto-frankie-shaw.jpg ABC's new comedy "Mixology" received a lot of criticism after the series premiere due to an alleged "rape joke" that many found to be offensive. However, two of the series' stars Adan Canto and Frankie Shaw think that the negative reviews were a little unfair.

"There was specific criticism about the alleged 'rape joke' in the first episode, and we called ourselves out on it. We shut it down [in the same scene]," Shaw tells Zap2it. "It wasn't the kind of joke that I find offensive when I hear a rape joke, and I'm honestly a staunch feminist. A lot of the criticism has been saying that it's anti-feminist or something. So that wasn't a fair criticism in my mind."

Shaw continues, "At the heart of it, the show is about people trying to connect and find love under the surface veneer of dating and hooking up. That's what we're showing, the reality of being out at a bar, and what's really going on underneath that. I think critics are missing that point as well."

Her co-star Canto agrees. "Everyone can have their opinion. And I think the people who have had negative opinions of the show were picking apart the writing and explaining why they don't like it," Canto tells Zap2it. "And it's totally fine. I can completely understand that. But I've been getting some amazing messages on Twitter when we live tweet during the show. So on both sides of the coin, there's been a lot of talk about it."

Canto also thinks that for what they're trying to achieve, they've succeeded. "At the end of the day, people should see the show for what it is," Canto says. "It's about a bar and what happens in the bar. And the characters we're portraying are showing what really happens at the bar. Some people won't like that."

Shaw hopes viewers stay tuned in as the season goes on, promising the show gets better and better with each episode. "As any show in its freshman year, we're just getting our footing," Shaw says. "The season really starts to get going when you get to know all of our characters. The last half of the season, the episodes are really freaking incredible. They are so, so funny. So just give us a chance rather than just knock us down right out of the gate."

Canto hopes viewers will sit back and watch, and realize that they can relate to a lot of the situations on the show. "When you think about it, this is comedy. Every good comedy is a portrayal of reality and we're pretty much making fun of our own pathetic natures," Canto says. "We're making light of all of it rather than being negative. We're making jokes you wouldn't expect to hear people making light of. We respect the audience and want to make something they can laugh at and relate to."

Plus, as much as "Mixology" pushes the envelope, Shaw argues that they're hardly the most offensive show on the air. "Our show is no more offensive or raunchy than so many other shows out there," Shaw says. "So if you look at it from that perspective, some of the reviews were pretty unjust."

On a more positive note, Canto and Shaw are excited for viewers to see their episode on Wednesday (March 26), "Fab & Jessica & Dominic," because it will finally show why their enigmatic characters -- catty fashionista Fab and hot bartender Dominic -- are the way that they are. 

Check out the rest of Zap2it's Q&A with Shaw and Canto below.

Zap2it: We started to see how your characters' story unfolds at the end of last week's episode when Fab and Jessica decide to have a "friendly" competition for Dominic's attention. So how does that unfold in your episode?
Frankie Shaw: Jessica and Fab have had this competitive relationship for their entire lives and they haven't seen each other in like 10 years. And it picks right back up right away with them. We both pull out all our old tricks to try and win over Dominic, the hot bartender.
Adan Canto: And he knows exactly what's going on.
FS: You're used to it, girls throwing themselves at you. It happens all the time.

And since we see every character from birth until now at the bar, what can you tease about your character's backstory? What will we come to learn about them during your episode?
AC: You're going to understand more about Dominic with his flashbacks. So far, you've only seen him mixing drinks. But now you'll start to understand his persona a little bit more and even his feelings. Because this guy does have feelings, believe it or not.
FS: That's what is so cool about these flashbacks. They're really funny but they also give you greater insight into who each of these people are and why they do what they do.
AC: It's fun to see them all when they're not at the bar. The bar scenes are fun and everything but it's really hard to understand them with just one night. So to be able to go back to the beginning, it crushes your heart a little bit to see where they come from and what's happened to them in the past, and then you understand them. And that's when you get invested in the show and want to find out who ends up with who and what's going to happen to them.
FS: With Fab, she's not just this b**** out of nowhere. She really had to survive some hardships growing up. You'll see that she's this total scrappy survivor and that's why she's had to put this wall up. She has this great backstory that allows you to empathize with her even though she can seem really catty and off-putting. And that's how it is with everyone, you know? People who are a little tough to be around, once you get to know where they come from and who they are, you're able to have a little compassion for them. So you'll see her crazy parents and how hard she's had to work to go after her dream. She's fallen down a lot and gets back up. It's pretty cool and it's really funny.
AC: And as for Dominic, you get to see his idealistic nature. You'll understand his heart and why he's so in this dream world. He's bringing his dreams down into reality. He tends to be an idealist which is quite surprising in a guy like that.

What surprised you the most about your character's backstory?
FS: Without giving too much away, I think the fact that Fab really comes from a place of deep love and respect for Jessica. It's just shocking given the way she treats her. She's just not equipped with the tools to be honest and tell Jessica how she really feels. She creates havoc. And also her parents are terrible dressers.
AC: I'd say what surprised me the most about Dominic is his ability to take what life gives him and make it entirely his.

Besides your own, which character is your favorite to watch as the season goes on?
AC: Frances, you go first.
FS: I really do love watching them all, but I love watching Liv's constant failure at flirting. And then she's really challenges herself and learns. And I guess because I'm such a romantic at heart, it's really fun to see Kacey and Cal's will-they-or-won't-they because they're so perfect for each other.
AC: I have to say my favorite thing so far has been episode 3, with Bruce and Jessica. Bruce's backstory was so shocking and it's been my favorite thing to watch so far because a character like Bruce is so hard to empathize with when you only see him at the bar, playing that hunting game. But he's the one that has the most contrast when you learn his backstory. You completely understand his heart and why he's become the man he is.

"Mixology" airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC.
Photo/Video credit: ABC