Last week we brought you Part 1 of an in-depth interview with “Being Human” executive producers Anna Fricke and Jeremy Carver, and as promised, we now have Part 2 ready for your reading pleasure. Fricke and Carver continue discussing what we can expect in Season 2, if any other creatures make an appearance in the series, the ins and outs of vampire politics, and lots more!
Q: Some of the fun of the show has been seeing what carries over from other vampire, werewolf, and ghost stories and also where you guys decide to take the lore of these three monsters with your own original spin – whether it’s powers or debunking myths or what have you. How much do you get to play, or how much do you enjoy playing, with the traditional knowledge of these monsters and then adding new stuff to it?
Jeremy Carver: Well, it’s always a balance, right? Because there are certain expectations. Part of the fun that goes back to the BBC series was particularly how they played with the vampires in that they could exist in sunlight, etc. And staying with the BBC version, they took great, great liberties with their ghost character, Annie. Not only could she touch things, but she could be seen by people if I’m not mistaken. I think in their Season 2 she’s totally able to be seen by folks.
Anna Fricke: Yes, she is.
Jeremy Carver: We took our ghost character in much smaller steps, but you’ll remember at the end of last season one of the sort of immediate good-bad things that happened after Sally missed her door was that she discovered she was able to connect more to earthbound objects, which of course also implies that she is more earthbound now. So we’ll see in Season 2 Sally is able to basically interact with inanimate objects more, but we get a huge kick it out. One of our favorite, if not the most favorite, scene from Season 1 was Josh and Aidan in the bathroom in Episode 7 when Aidan has that reaction to garlic. We spun that to be the garlic doesn’t actually ward off vampires, but it was something that if a vampire eats garlic, it would expose him even more.
Anna Fricke: We always tried to take the lore and just do what makes sense to us. We like to be able to follow it in a way that is going to make sense to us in a logical way. And like we said earlier, we have some new writers, and they span from huge genre geeks to straight-up character writers. And so we’ll have a lot of notions flying around the room. And there’s always one guy who’s like the BS detector, and it would be like, “Does this make sense to you?” So we all have a lot of notions that we like to play with, but we try to rein it in and make sure that it’s following some kind of logic that keeps with what we set up before. We tried to be careful about that.
Q: Is there any chance that you’ll be looking at other kinds of monsters, variations, etc., or are we going to be rooted basically with these three monsters through the series?
Jeremy Carver: Well, I wouldn’t speak for the whole series, but I’ll speak for the season in that this season you’re going to see variations like I was trying to say before. You’re going to see variations of the species we’ve already introduced, but we’re not necessarily seeing new monsters. You might see a third cousin type of werewolf that you have seen before or it’s in the same family tree of monsters, but we’re not introducing, for example…
Anna Fricke: Fairies. [everyone laughs] It’s a tough call, though, because once you’re in a supernatural world, you’re saying that vampires and werewolves exist, but you don’t have to say other things do also. But we’re not closed.
Jeremy Carver: No, no, as a series notion we’re definitely not closed to it.
Anna Fricke: As a series notion we’re totally open to it, but we’re not going to see that this season.
Q: How much are we going to see Terry Kinney as Hegeman, and will we get more information about the Dutch?
Jeremy Carver: Re the second question, I think the Dutch play a pretty big role; we’ll be introducing new Dutch characters this season. And as for Terry Kinney, you’ll definitely be seeing him – he will be involved in a very explosive storyline kicking off our season.
Q: You mentioned the vampire politics that we’ve seen so far, and we’re going to see more of that. We’ve seen versions of that in other stories like “True Blood”, and we’ve gotten other versions of vampires and supernatural creatures in “Teen Wolf” and the Twilights and all of the different types of stories that are out there now. What efforts are you making to differentiate your supernatural creatures from all of those other versions?
Anna Fricke: Well, just speaking to the vampire politics question first – and I wish I could use a different term than “politics” because it sounds like it’s so dry, which it’s not – for me it makes sense that vampires do have a structure because they are this sub-culture that has existed for thousands of years and they have to have their own sort of rules and society so that makes sense to me. In terms of how it’s differentiated, how the creatures are different, I’m just trying to focus in on what the question is. Because I’m a huge fan of all those shows so I’m aware of what you’re talking about, but are you asking how we differentiate our monsters?
Q: Yes, because there are only so many different things that you can do with vampire lore as your starting point. What efforts are you making to not get lost in the shuffle and not be like all of the others?
Anna Fricke: I think what we try to do most, and what we always try to focus on, is the core of the show, which is “being human”. Which is sort of keeping everything grounded on an emotional level for these characters and keeping them in touch with their humanity and trying not to get too caught up in fantastical or arch storytelling, right? And even in terms of the Mother character we have, who is sort of like a Queen Elizabeth character in this vampire society, she and her daughter are actually a biological mother and daughter, meaning that she turned her own daughter into a vampire. And so [that’s] something I think sets the show apart a little bit in that there are actual blood ties there.
Jeremy Carver: Yes, I think Anna’s hitting on it nicely. It’s not necessarily a question of how do our politics differ, but how do our characters differ? When we introduce this sort of new line on the vampire hierarchy, we do so by focusing very heavily on the characters themselves. We have this mother and daughter who have a very, very, very complicated mother-daughter relationship spanning hundreds and hundreds of years, and we had to deal with the “politics” underneath it all and above it all, and affecting all of it is the relationship between this mother and this daughter, who Anna noted are actually biological mother and daughter from, again, hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
So while we’re dealing with their very complicated relationship, Aidan himself, as the season progresses, will realize has an extremely complicated relationship with each that spans back decades that he has to navigate while, again, always sort of trying to acquire his freedom, which was promised to him at the beginning of this new season.
Anna Fricke: I think what sets this show apart from some of these other genre shows, again of which I’m a big fan, is that they – our monsters – are trying their best not to get enmeshed with their other monsters. You know, Aidan sort of wants nothing to do with the other vampires, Josh wants nothing to do with the other werewolves, and Sally just wishes she had taken her door. And all they want, just to hit it home, is to be human. And so they’re always trying to do that, trying to have human relationships, trying to have normal lives. I think that ultimately is what differentiates it.
Q: With the introduction of the mother and daughter storyline, does that mean we’re going to be locked in Boston for the whole season, or are we going to get out more this year?
Jeremy Carver: I don’t know that…well, let me think. Let me unpack that question for a second. In the general sense, yes, we are mostly in Boston as our setting this year. There’s no packing the family roadster and going to Orlando for an episode.
Anna Fricke: But we do see different places in flashbacks and like that.
Jeremy Carver: Yes, we’re largely in and around Boston again, and I think this year a lot of the departure from Boston proper would be, as Anna was hinting at, that we have a large number of flashbacks that pretty much span the globe in terms of where they take us. So that’s one of the ways that we sort of broaden the scope of the places we’re visiting this year, through the past.
Q: Earlier last season we met Josh’s sister, Emily, and she was the only gay character on the show. So I was wondering if this season we’re going to see more diversity in terms of race and sexuality.
Anna Fricke: Yes, actually, we are trying to make a point of that, and one thing – and this is a small thing – we wanted to sort of make a point about is that even in the vampire feeding world, men aren’t always feeding off of women and women feeding off of men. We wanted to mix that up a little bit more and show that it’s a free-for-all. There definitely is more diversity…
Jeremy Carver: And we can look forward to Emily making a return.
Anna Fricke: Yes, Emily is also coming back.
Jeremy Carver: But in terms of additional gay or lesbian characters, I’m blanking on if there’s more or we just continue… What do you think?
Anna Fricke: No, I don’t think there are.
Jeremy Carver: I don’t think we specifically identify anyone new as gay or lesbian this season.
Q: So how do you find the right mix of drama, comedy, sci-fi and what level of darkness to use when working on this? And do you have a favorite type of thing to write?
Anna Fricke: I think a lot of that comes from our writing staff; we have a great mix. And our favorite type of show is something like “Friday Night Lights” or early seasons of “Rescue Me” – you know, [when] you’re telling serious stories with a heartbreaking quality that have real humanity and humor infused. That’s the kind of storytelling we love – dark comedy I think is what we are the most comfortable with. And that’s the kind of voice we look for in our writers, who are all wildly talented, and that’s what we look for when we’re going over the script. Any time we have a really intense scene, we try to put in an inappropriate joke… you know, gallows humor.
Jeremy Carver: Both of us are just enormous fans of wild swings, frankly sometimes wildly inappropriate swings, between humor and a true sort of pain, and I would go further to say that for me I think the best humor springs from pain. So I think the core of the show are three characters who are in pain when you strip it all away because they are all what they don’t want to necessarily be. So when you start with that as your touchstone, I think it’s a little bit easier to find that mix. But it’s something that we are ever vigilant about maintaining because it’s just to us what strikes the most natural tone for our show.
Q: You said that most of the season takes place in Boston. Do you guys ever actually film around Boston, or is it all in Canada?
Anna Fricke: We did do some pickup shots and some footage in Boston. Last year we were able to get a little side crew up there – down there rather. But no, we mostly are filming in Montreal. We try to get to Boston if and when we can, just for some establishing shots and stuff like that, but we have to stay around Montreal.
Q: Can you talk a bit about the group of werewolves we’ve seen in the promos that are kind of “want-to-be werewolves rather than human” and how they’re going to affect Josh?
Anna Fricke: We thought it would be interesting [since] Josh is so set on being human and curing the werewolf curse to explore the idea of monsters who don’t view themselves as monsters. Basically, these werewolves see being a werewolf as their natural state, and they feel more comfortable in that way. And we sort of likened it to transgender people who really, firmly believe that they should have been born a different way and they’re just trying to make that transition. That’s kind of how we approached those characters. We just wanted to show a different point of view than the one that Josh has, which is, “I’m cursed, I hate it, I just want to be human.” We wanted to show the opposite side of that spectrum. Someone who actually feels trapped in their human body.
Q: I just wanted to ask, because I really like them, who comes up with the episode titles?
Jeremy Carver: We all do.
Anna Fricke: Yes, all the writers do. It’s a pretty equal opportunity. We vote. So I’m glad you like them.
Our thanks to Anna and Jeremy for their time! Be sure to tune in to the Season 2 return of “Being Human” on Syfy next Monday, January 16th.
In “Being Human” leading normal lives is a lot harder than it looks for three roommates – vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer), ghost Sally (Meaghan Rath), and werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington) – who share their secrets and a Boston brownstone. The Season 2 action picks up nearly a month after last season’s explosive finale as the three continue to struggle with their supernatural double lives and discover that temptation truly is a beast!
Executive Producers are Michael Prupas, Adam Kane, Jeremy Carver and Anna Fricke (both of whom are also writers/showrunners), Rob Pursey, and Toby Whithouse. Irene Litinsky is Producer.
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