John Owen Lowe Says 'Unstable' Scripts are an "Accurate Depiction" of His Childhood
Rob Lowe and son John Owen Lowe star in Netflix series 'Unstable.' Is the father-son comedy based on a true story? Details on their quirky relationship.
Premiering on March 30, 2023, Netflix's newest comedy series Unstable sees Emmy nominee Rob Lowe (Parks and Recreation) alongside his youngest son, John Owen Lowe (Grace Point).
Created by the Lowe duo and Victor Fresco (Santa Clarita Diet), Unstable centers on the relationship between Rob's "universally admired, eccentric, narcissist-adjacent biotech entrepreneur" Ellis Dragon and John Owen's Jackson Dragon, who's tired of living in his brilliant father's shadow.
Following the death of his wife, Ellis — the creator of the bruise-less avocado — struggles to hold it together. Despite their fractured relationship, a wary Jackson moves back to L.A. to help his scatterbrained father re-find his feet and get back in the lab, mending their bond in the process.
Well, sort of. Considering Ellis tells Jackson he wants him to be "exactly a version of [himself]," there's clearly work to be done.
Though Rob and John Owen have previously worked together on projects like 2019's rom-com Holiday in the Wild and 2017's unsolved mysteries docuseries The Lowe Files, Unstable is their most personal collaboration thus far. With this in mind, is it based on a true story?
Is Netflix's comedy series 'Unstable' based on a true story?
While Unstable is not technically based on a true story, the father-son duo heavily pulled from their real-life social media relationship when creating their characters. John Owen is known for trolling and roasting his dad on Instagram (even replacing Rob's face with that of John Stamos) — no comment section is safe!
"Yes, the online heckling had gotten to the point where I could not do an interview, whether it was CNN or Jimmy Fallon, without being asked about it," Rob told USA Today. Because he takes no breaks from clowning on his dad, John Owen chimed in: "Were you doing CNN a lot back then?" We can practically feel the smirk.
In 2019, Rob dropped a post-workout selfie on Instagram with the caption, "If you're not wet from your workout, you're probably not working hard enough!"
After rubbing his hands together (presumably), John Owen commented, "The subtle art of taking a selfie in front of ur Emmy nominations." Boom, roasted!
Sure, the goofy central relationship is inspired by the Lowes' banter, but Ellis's wacky personality is a cocktail of several real personalities, including Elon Musk. According to USA Today, the creators looked to newspaper headlines for inspo.
"We cherry-picked funny character traits from a whole bandwidth of people," Rob shared. "It's a comedy of manners about our modern obsession with brilliant and possibly crazy billionaire innovators."
Speaking on Elon, John Owen described him as "a human being who's been given too much power and influence and doesn't know what to do with it."
In Unstable, Ellis uses his endless power to prance around his office in his birthday suit. There are worse things!
John Owen Lowe relates to his character's struggles in 'Unstable.'
On a more serious note, John Owen knows what it's like to grow up in the shadow of a superstar father. With memorable roles in projects like The Outsiders, Parks and Recreation, and 9-1-1: Lone Star, to name a few, Rob Lowe is undeniably one of the most famous (not to mention chiseled) faces in Hollywood.
"The show is partly about the humor and the misery of a child who wants to get out of his father’s shadow and can’t escape it," John Owen explained.
"And John Owen’s solution for that was, 'Hey, let’s do a show with Dad,'" Rob quipped. "And that’s why I’m in therapy," John Owen replied.
A particular scene involving a heated game of tennis stuck out to Rob. As he read lines about Ellis heckling Jackson, the latter of whom is trying to enjoy a serious game of tennis, Rob thought back to John Owen's days on the court.
"I thought, wow, that’s really what you thought I did when you were in high school tennis? You thought I heckled from the sidelines?" Rob questioned.
"Unfortunately yes, these scripts do reflect an accurate depiction of my childhood," John Owen confirmed. Though it may be obvious, it's important to note that John Owen's creativity worked its way into the scripts. His unique perspective plays a major role in the series.
While John Owen calls Unstable "a documentary" (which it absolutely is not), Rob calls it "revisionist history." Perhaps this famous father-son duo can agree to disagree.
Unstable premieres on March 30, 2023, on Netflix.