Melinda McGraw is brave. She’s jumping into a whole lotta testosterone in Men of a Certain Age, about three guys dealing with midlife crises and male menopause (male-o-pause?).In the Season 2 opener (10 p.m. Monday on TNT) Joe (Ray Romano) starts taking golf more seriously while Owen (Andre Braugher) is regretting his decision to hire Terry (Scott Bakula) at his father’s car dealership. As for McGraw, the 47-year-old — who was last seen portraying Jon Hamm‘s mistress on Mad Men — joins the cast as Erin, playboy Bakula’s “mature” love interest. We talked to the classically trained actress whose résumé also includes The Dark Knight, The X-Files and a self-help book, Note to Self, about the struggles of having a premature baby (her daughter is now a healthy 6-year-old). What’s it like on the set? “We crack up between takes, but we try very hard not to during a take — unless the characters would. I did lose it once when during what was supposed to be a touching romantic moment, a gale-force wind blew dead-on into my face. I’m sure my hair stood up and saluted like the bride of Frankenstein’s.” How is it working with Scott Bakula? “He is wonderful, generous and so smart. He is extremely funny. We definitely improvise. In one scene, I accidentally knocked a bottle of wine over and it broke, red wine gushing all over the floor. The director let the cameras roll for at least 10 minutes. It was probably pretty funny watching Scott and I trying to clean all that up.” What do you think of the characters the men play? “I think they are three guys trying to carve out places for themselves in modern America, and it’s a weird time. They all have their issues like we all do. Maybe they’re a little self-centered, but they are growing. I think the most important element of the show is their friendship. It’s such a relief to watch normal, vulnerable guys stumbling through life — not macho cops or killers or rocket scientists. I think one of the reasons women like it so much is we get a peek into a world we never see, of what guys might be like when we aren’t around. They are authentic with each other, except when they lie about their own weaknesses. It’s very touching.” What do women in their 40s have over those in their 20s? “Women in their 20s are spectacular, but those same women just get more and more and more spectacular with time: More experienced, wiser, deeper, sexier. I think [Bakula’s character] has been avoiding a commitment for many reasons. He is on a constant quest; he’s a free spirit and believes a relationship would sacrifice the essence of his identity. Choosing younger women is easier because they typically put up with a lot more bull, they usually are less experienced, and more likely to idolize him. But that also makes them far less interesting because they are less of a challenge. His struggle is that despite his scoffing, he actually longs for a relationship and is a total romantic.” — MADELEINE MARR
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