Terri and I got to participate in a roundtable discussion at ATX Television Festival with The Bold Type’s new showrunner Amanda Lasher and Meghann Fahy, who plays Sutton. They talked about what it was like for Lasher to jump right in as the new showrunner on season two, exploring Sutton’s backstory, Sutton’s relationship with Richard and so much more. Keep reading to see what they had to say!
Amanda, I have a question for you. So obviously, you’re new to the show this year as showrunner, executive producer, writer, everything. What was it like for you to just jump right in and get going on a show that became so loved last summer, and after the first season?
Amanda: I didn’t think about it at all [laughs]. Honestly, I mean, it just was … I came in as a fan of the show. So that made it easy and that I just loved the show and I wasn’t coming in wanting to try to change anything or fix anything. I just came in just wanting to continue what they had done so beautifully, and so, that part was a pleasure. And then there’s also the part of the responsibility of knowing that people did love the show so much and wanting to honor that, and those were sort of my guides to moving forward.
Did you have any goals when you first came in the writer’s room? Like, “I wanna try to do this this season or I want to keep this from season one.” Did you have any goals going in to starting to look at season two?
Amanda: Yeah, I think that I really wanted to go deeper into the characters’ backstories and understanding some of the decisions that they made. That was something that was really interesting to me, learning more about that. And, in terms of the romances, it’s sort of like trying to find ways to have those go deeper and evolve them and also keep people sort of on the edge of their seats, and that part is super challenging, but also really fun.
One of the things I really appreciate about Sutton’s character is, in the first season, her past struggle. ‘Cause I feel like that’s something you don’t see as much on television, in general. And I was just curious if that’s going to be a part of her character in season two, if we’re going to see more of that? I know you mentioned backstories, so maybe meet her family, or–
Meghann: Yeah, that is something that is definitely going to be in season 2 that we’re really excited about. ‘Cause Sutton, I feel like, was a little bit mysterious, personally, in the first season, outside of her relationship with Richard. So that was really important and we talked about that, and we do, we go to Sutton’s hometown, and we meet her mom and her ex-boyfriend, and that’s my favorite episode of season two. I think that people will really enjoy it. To have the opportunity to kind of understand someone from where they came from and stuff, it kind of changes the way that you see them, sometimes for better or worse, or whatever. Whether or not it makes you more empathetic or sympathetic or any of those things, so yeah, I’m excited.
What was the most challenging thing for you in season 2, and the most rewarding that you found, from your story arc?
Meghann: Well … Obviously, Sutton and Richard split up in the first episode, so that was I guess kind of challenging, but also exciting in terms of … I think there was a sense of relief that came with the fact that she had at least made a decision about what she wanted to do, and then we were gonna see her fully dive into it. And what does that look like? It feels so good sometimes when you see a character who’s been working so hard and struggling so much get a win. In the fashion world and stuff, when something lovely happens, like she’s talking to Rachel Antonoff in the first episode, it’s so pleasing. You’re like, “Oh my God! It’s working,” so that was great. But yeah, I think it’s interesting. The most challenging and also the most rewarding thing about season 2 were sort of the decision that she made to separate from Richard.
I’m wondering about writing a show for young people in the age of such overwhelming social media. Especially coming in for season two, you had this huge reaction to season one. Everybody had some very strong feelings about the couples and all that kind of stuff. Did you have that in your head going into the writing process? And how hard is it to keep it out of your mind, so it doesn’t influence where you go with the character, or does it influence where you go with the characters?
Amanda: It’s kind of a duality. It’s like we very much, when we are talking about the storylines and writing storylines, we think a lot about … we want to respect our audience, and [be] respectful of them. But, at the same time, that doesn’t mean that we are going to constantly give them what they want when they want it. Because I think that that doesn’t always work out to give people what they want when they want it, because you don’t want every episode to be exactly the same. You need those sort of ups and downs, and also that’s what life is. I mean, it goes up, it goes down, and so that’s sort of how we approach it. So for me, I think this is really cool, because you do get to have this conversation, and this dialogue, even though I’m very silent on Twitter, but you get to hear what people say, and that part’s really nice.
What about you – for fan reaction to everything in the minute as the show’s going on?
Meghann: That also, I’m not a big Twitterer either, so it’s … like last year when we were premiering for the first time, engaging that way and stuff was kind of mind-blowing, ’cause you go up … We shoot in Canada, and we’re up there for however many months, kind of just in our own little bubble, doing the thing every day. And, you forget about the part where it doesn’t belong to you anymore. It’s out there, and people have opinions about it and some of them are great, and some of them are not, and all of it is fair. So, I think yeah, to be able to interact with people so easily, and to get a sense of how excited people have been, has been really special.
How does knowing you have a season three affect writing season two, if it does?
Amanda: Well, I mean it’s just such a gift, you know? Because there were storylines that we really wanted to do this season, and we couldn’t do them. And so for whatever reason, we get them, and knowing and like, “Oh! Don’t worry, we’re fine.” Then we can go there. It’s just great.
I relate so much to your character because I fell for someone at work.
Amanda: Ooh, tell me more.
It was years ago and my friends were watching the show in Brazil, and they text me, “Did you see that?” It was so funny. It was like, “I can’t believe I am hopefully going to tell her that.” Has anyone ever told you a story like that? That they relate to your character on the program?
Meghann: Yes, and also it’s crazy. My roommate at the time, when the first season premiered, was in a secret relationship with someone at her office.
Good for [her]!
Meghann: Yes! And it was crazy because she was, and is, brilliantly smart and talented, and so good at her job. And it was literally that thing of like if people find out about this … People can’t find out about this. Right? So eventually, the relationship did progress to a pretty serious one, at which point they did go to their boss, and say, “We’re together.” But of course, you don’t want to do that at the beginning ’cause if it’s just new, and you’re like, “I don’t know if we’re just having fun, or are we hanging out?” so it took them a while to get to that spot. But it was crazy, ’cause she was going through that when I was … And so she … the episodes would come out, and she’s like, “Oh my God! I relate to that so much.” So, I felt good. I felt like we had done that storyline justice when she said that to me.
Going off of Sutton and Richard and all of that, I mean at the end of episode one of season two, we see Sutton make the choice that she’s not gonna be with Richard, at this time at least. So, because so much of Sutton’s character was tied to Richard in season one, a) do you still have hope that, at some point, she will be at a place in her life where she can choose Richard and choose that love? And b) what was it like getting to explore Sutton, like you were talking getting to explore her backstory, but what was it like getting to explore Sutton away from that storyline?
Meghann: That’s two really great questions. The first question, yes I do hope that she gets to that place. Personally, I feel like because the chemistry is so great between Sutton and Richard and their relationship was so loving and great, it would be really satisfying to see that play out. I think connecting with people can be hard in the real world and when you find someone that you feel that way about, to not be able to really go down that road and see what’s there, it’s heartbreaking. So, I do hope that at some point, she’ll be able to kind of really give herself to him, and he to her, and see if what they have really is the real deal. And then, the second part of your question was, “What was it like experiencing–
Yeah, getting to experience Sutton aside from her relationship with Richard, and exploring more of her.
Meghann: Yeah, I mean it was so special to me this year to be able to do that. It really, really deepened for me, just how high the stakes are for her. And just why her career is so important, and she has already sacrificed so much to get to where she is, and has struggled so much just to be an assistant. And I think it really offered some pretty amazing perspective, and I think the audience will probably feel the same.
Amanda: And, there’s also awesome stuff with you and Oliver. Which was like, “They’re so much fun.”
Meghann: The Sutton/Oliver relationship, is–
Amanda: Evolving in the loveliest way.
Meghann: Evolving, and so, so special. One of my favorite parts of being on the show is getting to work with Stephen [Conrad Moore]. He’s just so lovely.
Amanda: That’s your ‘ship.
Meghann: That will be the lasting relationship. It really has been beautiful to have that relationship evolve as well.
Watching season one as a fan and then coming in in season two, was there a character, particularly in the supporting cast, that you were really excited about deepening, and telling us more about them from what you felt was being under-explored in season 1?
Amanda: There was stuff about every character that I was super excited about. Like talking about Sutton’s character, exploring the privilege, what it was like to go into the fashion world and come from that, I was super excited about that. One thing that I was excited about was exploring Kat and her racial identity. Because I felt like that was something that didn’t really get talked about that much in season one that I was excited to talk about and to learn what it was like to be a biracial woman in this world. And where did she get her views? And we get to meet her parents, which I’m really excited about, in episode two. So that was really gratifying, to be able to do that.
Have any of the cast members actually contributed some of their own experiences into the storylines?
Amanda: We talk a lot. I mean, I don’t remember any specific thing. But I mean, Aisha and I talked a lot about that storyline in episode two, and we talk about stuff and so it informs things. But is there anything–
Meghann: I don’t think there’s anything really specifically personal that we’ve run with, but we do, we talk … We talk all the time about everything. It’s so great.
Amanda: There’s a body positivity episode coming up, and we had just very real conversations about the things that we find challenging about ourselves and how we love ourselves. So that was really personal.
Meghann: Yeah, that was great.
The Bold Type airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on Freeform.
Photo Credit: Michelle Maurin