December 10, 2013 by Drinks at The Dal
Lost Girl showrunner Emily Andras was kind enough to join us for a chat. We ask her about how the writing process works on Lost Girl, if the writers are still planning to hold Kenzi to that favor she owes The Morrigan from “Table for Fae,” who came up with the brilliant idea for that car wash promo, and whether she has a bet going with the other writers to get Ksenia Solo to make out with as many of her fellow cast members as possible. Thank you so much to Emily for being willing to talk with three giggly, awkward fangirls.
Drink Special: Troll Bait
courtesy Emily Andras
150g (or approximate clawful of) Fresh or frozen raspberries
55g (1/4 cup) Sugar
60ml (1/4 cup) Water
30ml Scotch whisky
1 tbsp Fresh lemon juice
Soda water, to serve
Lemon slices, to serve
Serve over ice cubes; pairs nicely with the blood of your enemies. Settle in and watch the Twitterverse meltdown over your writerly antics; taunt and tease accordingly. Cheers!
How did you get involved with Lost Girl? What drew you to the project?
Michelle Lovretta was a wonderful mentor to me, and I knew she was working on a project with Jay Firestone, who is known for producing shows with really strong female leads. Lovretta took a chance on me because I hadn’t done genre before, and I joined the show in season one. And then she moved on to other pastures, and I was lucky enough to inherit this incredible show.
Since you mentioned the importance of strong female leads in what drew you to Lost Girl, do you consider yourself to be a feminist writer?
I do. 100%. But it’s a complicated word. I think doing what you have to to define yourself and doing what makes you happy and feel empowered can make you a feminist. I’m interested in all the things that make women strong, as well as the things that make them vulnerable. I’ve actually never written on a show without a strong, female protagonist. I love that on Lost Girl we have so many strong female characters.
Stephanie really likes that all the female characters on Lost Girl are different. They’re not just copies of a cookie cutter version of a “strong woman.”
I think it’s important that the characters are different. Bo is very sexually confident, while Kenzi is less so. Bo has a very strict moral compass where Kenzi is more willing to cross those lines. The Morrigan is a fierce leader, but I think it’s hard being a female leader. You’re often called a “bitch.” Lauren is quietly strong and smart and good, but she isn’t a laugh-out-loud character all the time. Tamsin is very conflicted and has a complicated past.
You’re very accessible on Twitter to the fans. Is that a conscious decision you made?
I’m surprised how much I came to love Twitter. I’m not the biggest fan of the idea of social media because I think it’s really easy to be anonymous and say things that you wouldn’t say to someone in person. But I feel like we have a tight-knit community with Lost Girl, and I feel like I’ve gotten to know some of the fans personally. I’m so amazed by the diversity.
So much of writing is solitary. It used to be that you’d watch a show on TV that you wrote months ago, and you wouldn’t get any response to it. There’s something really gratifying to social media, and it’s really changed how we watch TV. I feel like being part of a community on Twitter has kind of enhanced watching the show.
Every showrunner is different, and not every showrunner should have to make themselves accessible. You do have to protect your vision a little bit, so I presume I’m fairly unusual in that manner. There are times when I go dark, but I really love it.
How do you split up show assignments in the writer’s room? How collaborative is your process?
I’m very collaborative. I’ve really come to trust my writers, but someone has to “guide the ship,” so to speak. We break the season where we sit down and say, “OK, it’s season nine. What’s going on for Dr. Lauren Lewis? She’s pregnant with the triplets, and Tamsin is the father. The Wanderer turned out to be Sigourney Weaver, who knew?” No, really. We ask ourselves, “What is going to happen this year? What are the themes we want Bo to go through this year?” Because the fans have bought into the characters and the world, we can do more serialized, complicated storytelling. Showcase is really great, by the way. They’re very supportive of the stories we want to tell.
We break the episode scene-by-scene together, but when it comes to writing the script you come to know your writers in the same way that you know your actors and you assign the scripts based on people’s strengths. But the show is very complicated, so I feel like all our writers at this point have really great skill sets.
We do about ten drafts for every script, and it’s about a six-week process from the beginning to it going on screen.
How much time do you spend on set? Is there a scene you’ve written that’s come out completely differently or better than you envisioned once it’s been shot?
All the time. I think our actors are amazing. Basically, every time Ksenia Solo is on set I’m like, “Bring the Kleenex!”
It’s really a full-time job being a showrunner. My priority is the scripts, but I’m responsible for running the show. I have to make decisions on casting, wardrobe, special effects, locations, etc. My whole day is meetings, having time on set, and going home and having homework, so I pretty much don’t see anyone for six months. It’s hard to be on set all the time. I try to go for things that are really important, but the writer of the episode is always on set in case anything needs to be tweaked.
There have been so many scenes that I’ve seen on set, and I’ve just been blown away. One that’s obvious this season is the tango in “In Memoriam.” Kris and K.C. worked so hard on learning the dance. We had dance doubles at the ready, but they were determined not to use them. We’re a Canadian show, we don’t have a big budget, so sometimes those big moments are hard to execute, but I could see the passion put into it.
There are some amazing Anna/Ksenia scenes this season that blew me away. Yes, there might be some Anna/Zoie scenes that were pretty good… I feel like everyone got better this year.
Do you have a show bible?
We do, but we’re lax in updating it because we have a small department. Michelle Lovretta created a show bible that had some helpful documents. We have one that’s a historical timeline of when we think what happened because we have Fae who have lived thousands of years. We have a list of the mythological creatures and names we used, but the bible isn’t as particular anymore.
Sometimes you want to be able to break the rules. Logic is important, but sometimes logic is the enemy of story. The famous line from a network executive was, “Well, a martian would never say that.” Who knows what a martian would and wouldn’t say? Yes, we need to keep track of some of it, but we need to be able to twist and turn the rules within reason at times.
Do you have planned how the show will end or how many seasons you’d like the show to run?
I do, but who knows if I’m going to be around to the end. There’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen. I’m sure Jay Firestone has an opinion, Showcase would have an opinion, I have an opinion.
There are some things that I feel are set in stone. Bo’s origins are going to come calling one way or another. I’d love to do a Lost Girl movie. That’s my secret if we had enough interest from the audience.
I have an opinion about how it could end, but the joy of being a showrunner and a writer is seeing it evolve in a way you don’t expect. You have to be open to it.
Do you believe in letting your characters be happy? Do you think the story can still be interesting if characters are happy or does the story end when they are?
Good question. Most romantic comedies end with happily ever after, not “The baby’s got diarrhea and we have so many taxes to pay!”
I want them to be happy because I love them, but television is drama. As much as you would like Dyson and Bo to sit on the couch and hold hands forever, that’s a boring show to me. This is a complicated world with high stakes and good and evil.
I would like Bo to figure out her shit. I would like her to be able to bring to fruition what she set out to do: to live as a Fae who defends humans and doesn’t have to pick a side. That’s more important to me than happiness, that she gets to be who she wants to be.
Kenzi had to promise The Morrigan a favor in “Table for Fae” to get her to stay away from Nate. Do the writers have that favor in their backpocket still?
Are you still trying to decide what to do with it or have you figured it out?
No comment. We have a delicious list of unresolved issues. Much like The Morrigan who is waiting to call in that favor when it’s most beneficial to her, we have plenty of story, and we’re waiting for the right time revisit it. We do have those issues to go back to in the future. I think some are less important than others, but there are some big ones we have standing. And some of them get answered this year.
Is there an unanswered question from a previous season that you’re excited to eventually answer?
Who The Wanderer is is a big one, why Bo went Dark Fae… I feel like there isn’t another one I can really talk about.
In “Dead Lucky” we meet Mayer, but that character was in the original pilot (“Vexed”) so he already existed before you wrote that script. Did you get to create that character’s backstory and why he owed Bo a favor or was that already in place from the pilot?
We started with “Vexed,” which isn’t an origin pilot, and the network wanted a more typical episode for the premiere. So we had this thing hanging over our heads at the beginning of season one where we had to establish why Bo owed Mayer a favor, and we knew we had to do that with my episode, “Dead Lucky.” And I love that character. He was one of those “shades of gray” characters. I’d love to bring him back. And I also really like Cassie, the Oracle. She might make an appearance in season four…
“Original Skin” is certainly a fan-favorite. How does it feel to have written the most asked about episode ever?
It’s amazing. When I wrote that episode, I had just given birth about three weeks ahead of time, so obviously I was on drugs when I thought, “This will be so easy!”
It could have gone really badly, but Jay Firestone had complete faith in me, and the cast committed absolutely. It was really a love letter to the fans because without their passion we could not have done that episode. I’m so glad the fans got it and love it.
And because of the response to that episode, now we try to do one big high-concept comedy episode every year. I’m a super selfish hog about it. I always try to get it.
Who would you have liked to see play Lauren if she hadn’t been shuffled off to limbo in “Original Skin”?
So what you’re asking me is, “Why do you hate my baby girl Lauren so much? She’s a beautiful princess angel and should be in every scene. How dare you put her in limbo?” I’m kidding. Who else could play Lauren but Zoie?
How crazy would it be to switch Bo and Lauren? Now that sex scene would be all sorts of complicated. I don’t know who’s on top, what’s happening. There’s no name tag big enough in the world for that.
It would be fun for Bo to be that smart and to be in a head as busy as Lauren’s, and I think Lauren would get off on wearing the leather and kicking ass for once.
So you wrote, “ArachnoFaebia,” “Caged Fae,” “Those Who Wander,” and “In Memoriam.” In the first episode, Kenzi kisses Lauren. In the second, Kenzi kisses Bo. In the third, Kenzi kisses Hale, and in the fourth Kenzi kisses Dyson… Do you have a bet going on with the other writers to make Ksenia Solo make out with as many cast members as possible?
Ksenia is going to kill me for telling this story, but I’m going to anyway. When she got “In Memoriam,” she said, “Oh my god, I’m kissing Kris,” and then she had a bright moment of realization where she said, “Oh my god. I’m the secret ‘ho’ of the show. I’ve kissed more people than Bo.”
I really love Kenzi. That character is an entry point for me to this world, and Ksenia kind of has chemistry with everyone. I don’t know if I did that knowingly, but I do like putting people together who we don’t usually see together on screen. There’s a lot of that going on this year that I’m excited about.
How fun/challenging was it to start season 4 without Bo?
It was certainly a challenge. You could not ask for a more wonderful lead than Anna Silk. She’s such a genuine, good person, and she takes care of everybody. We had a gift in that we knew Bo was going to be snatched at the end of the season well before we knew Anna was pregnant, so that was just serendipity.
It wasn’t so hard. It was a fun challenge. But the one thing I notice watching the first few episodes is that you really miss Anna on screen. I think it’s easy to take the lead for granted, but when Bo’s gone you realize what a warm presence she brings to the group and how she anchors all the characters. I thought Ksenia did an incredible job, but I’m so happy Bo’s back.
Did you decide pretty early to make Kenzi the central character of the first episode?
Yeah, I think so. I think she was the only choice really. We could have done Lauren, but Lauren was isolated from the rest of the group, and it was important to use as many characters as possible. Ksenia is so skilled. She works so hard, and she’s so funny that we knew she could pick up the gauntlet.
Lost Girl has had some really great guests this season. George Takei was delightfully creepy, and Mia Kirshner was a lot of fun. (We hope we’ll see more of her.) And then there’s Ali Liebert, who Kris and Stephanie absolutely love. So we have to ask you, Can we keep Ali Liebert? Can we? Pleeeeeeeeease?
Like as a pet? Do you want me to personally deliver Ali Liebert? I can talk to her agent. But that is a weird Christmas present. Getting her over the border is going to be killer.
Yeah, she’s pretty amazing, and I think she’s so warm. I can’t really say if we can keep her or not. Let me put it this way: we really like that actress.
Who came up with the concept of the car wash? Any good behind-the-scenes tidbits from filming that scene?
I rarely do this because we have an incredible team, but I had just seen Bad Teacher and I said, “We have to a do a car wash scene.”
Behind-the-scenes tidbits? The car was very dirty and needed a thorough cleaning. Zoie Palmer was very hot and the ice cream melted accordingly.
Anna is always tentative at the beginning of filming something like this. She was all, “Am I gonna be able to pull this off?” and then fifty pickup trucks crash into each other because they’re distracted by her cleaning the car. We’re like, “Yeah, you can pull it off.” At first Anna was happily scrubbing the car, Laura Ingalls-style, and I was like, “You gotta get sexier! Get on the windshield!”
I have to give Showcase credit because that’s part of an episode, and they loved it so much that they said, “We need to release part of the scene as a promo.” And it got quite a good response.
How are the prospects looking for a season five? Any idea yet?
Keep watching, fans. Keep talking on social media. Showcase is very supportive, and they love the show. It’s a hit for them, and it has such a huge international and social media presence, which is good. Feel free to say what you want, but I would say encourage Showcase to make more episodes if you want a season five. But I think the prospects look good.
So we have to ask about the love triangle… When Kris Holden-Ried was asked about it at Dragon*Con, he said that he’d like for the writers to maybe do something different besides having Bo choose either Dyson or Lauren, and there are fans out there who are Team Both. Would the writers consider a Team Both option?
Maybe. We consider all options, and it’s really such a divided fandom I’m not sure we’re going to make everybody happy. I do understand that people might be getting a little weary of the love triangle.
Team Both? Well, we kind of explored nonmonogamy in season three with Bo and Lauren. But I think it was important for Lauren to say, “I don’t think I can do this.”
It would certainly be groundbreaking, but baby steps for us. I think the most important thing that we do is not try to label it. Bo and Lauren’s relationship has been about a relationship, not a relationship between two women necessarily. Same for Bo and Dyson — their problems are not because Dyson has a penis. There’s lots of places we could take it, but it depends on the number of seasons and how the story evolves.
Have we heard the last about The Dawning? Because I know fans still have some questions about it, like why Bo went through her Dawning so early.
I can’t really tell you. That’s interesting that they still have some questions about it. I think what happened to Bo at the end of season two, enthralling everyone to fight The Garuda, something was accelerated within Bo. That certainly was our intention.
So I can’t really answer that, sorry. Go Dawning! Team Dawning? Nobody’s Team Dawning. At least I haven’t seen many Team Dawning t-shirts.
Stephanie appreciates that the sex scenes in Lost Girl aren’t just there to be titillating. There almost always is something revealed about the characters or their relationship or the scene is important to the plot. Do the writers have a checklist or a process of deciding when it’s appropriate to include a sex scene?
We want the sex to be hot and fun when it’s supposed to be hot and fun. I like that Bo is like, “I need this, baby,” and we really try to stick our guns as far as this is what she needs, she feeds on this. But we do try to make it part of the plot. It does serve a purpose, just like in your real life.
So thank you, we do try to make it part of the plot, and we try to indicate what kind of sex scene it is. Is it a tender sex scene between Bo and Lauren or is it a sex scene like the one in “Turn to Stone” where Bo is angry? The tone of the sex scene is also important to the story, but we really strive to make it fun. I think it’s an important part of the series.
Was the phrase “It’s time” from “Caged Fae” supposed to signify both it’s time for Bo and Lauren’s relationship in the story and also time for TV to tell a story like this?
That’s really nice. I didn’t have that meaning, but I think that’s a lovely interpretation.
I really did mean, “It’s time for us.” That speech actually had a little more written to it, and Jay made the decision to take some of it out, which is perfectly fine. It originally had Bo and Lauren talking more about the human and Fae thing where Lauren says, “But I’m human and you’re Fae,” and Bo says, “I don’t care what you are. I just need you to be mine.”
But what a lovely thought. It is time for that relationship to be showcased on television. Lost Girl has a protagonist who is truly bisexual and had a true relationship with a woman last season. I feel that’s happening under the radar a bit, which is kind of funny. But it’s also great. It’s just kind of happening, and people don’t seem to be shocked by it. They seem pretty excited by it.
Fans are in the middle of a plan to bribe you with food to come to Dragon*Con next year. But Annie wants you to come to Fan Expo since she’s going to be there.
I’d love to go to Dragon*Con.
Fan Expo is always a gas. I met fans from all over the world this year. I met some from the Middle East who said, “We have to download the show, and we could kind of get shot for watching it.” It was incredible. I’d love to bring my daughter. She was so amazed by the women in superhero costumes.
Do you have anything else that you’d like to tell the fans?
Thank you so much for watching. Recognize that it’s a journey. Sometimes we want you to be outraged and angry and feel things. And just stay engaged. I really have been so moved by everyone’s passion for the show. And you could not follow a more worthy group of people. They’re really lovely people.
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Category Podcast | Tags: Anna Silk, ArachnoFaebia, Bo, Bruce, Caged Fae, Dead Lucky, Dyson, Emily Andras, Hale, In Memoriam, Interview, K.C. Collins, Kenzi, Kris Holden-Ried, Ksenia Solo, Lauren, Original Skin, Rick Howland, Table for Fae, Tamsin, The Morrigan, Those Who Wander, Trick, Turn to Stone, Vexed, Zoie Palmer
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