Interview: Open Heart boss reveals Season 1 secrets

It was one of the most action-packed season finales I’ve ever seen. In just over 20 minutes, Open Heart managed to squish romance, action and mystery into one instalment as Dylan found her missing father, Veronica was attacked, Det. Goodis was killed and London had not one but two fellows—Seth and Hud—profess their love for her and plant a kiss on her lips.

We had questions! So we turned to showrunner Ramona Barckert for the answers, and she delivered on everything from those pesky feathers to London and Hud’s smooch, and perhaps the biggest mystery: will there be a Season 2 of Open Heart?

It’s one thing to sit in the writer’s room and come up with these ideas, but what has it been like to watch the show every week and see the reaction from the fans on social media?
Ramona Barckert: It’s been amazing. I was super-nervous before the premiere. Not that I didn’t believe in the show and I wasn’t proud of it, but it’s a different kind of thing and I wondered if people would embrace it the way that we hoped, and if they would hate the things that we focused on. You always wonder. Over the course of the 12 weeks it blossomed into this obsessive group of people that really got into it. It was really awesome.

Twelve weeks has gone by very quickly.
It has gone by quickly. The show is quick, so I think that is a factor.

There was so much going on in Tuesday’s finale that there wasn’t any time for Jared (Mena Massoud)!
You didn’t! And that’s unfortunate. I feel terrible about that. I own that because I wrote the finale and I jammed as much in as I could and we unfortunately only have just over 21 minutes to tell the story so the scene he was in got cut. It was a great scene too—typical Jared being hilarious and mocking Dylan—maybe I’ll bug someone to get the deleted scene put online or something.

Dylan represents the youth, not keeping things hiding in the shadows and talking about what they are struggling with.

Would it have changed the main story?
No, it was a scene at the top of the episode that set up Dylan coming out of the psych ward and setting her off on her journey. We just didn’t have the time for it and it had to go, unfortunately.

Thank you so much for reuniting Richard with Dylan. It was an important payoff and some shows may not have done that. They would have drawn it out into another season.
My approach to storytelling is if you set something up you need to have a payoff in a timely fashion. That makes it satisfying. It’s intriguing to have that payoff and close that part of the story while opening up another part to it. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. You want to give the audience something. Stringing the audience along … I don’t like it when shows do that to me so I try not to do that with my own.

Richard told Dylan that she needed to keep acting like he was dead or missing to protect her. London had that vision of her holding a baby. I was thinking the baby was Dylan and that perhaps the woman on the gurney was her mother. That means Jane isn’t her biological mother and Richard had an affair. Thoughts?
I think you’re supposed to look at that vision as a piece of the Blake history. Whether or not London’s interpretation of that history is accurate is subject to discussion. I think you’re on the right track. The vision is a lynchpin in the Blake family history and what it means is to be determined. Right now that vision exists in the twisted corridors of London’s mind and there is more to be had there. It’s still a bit fuzzy.

Ug. OK.
Come on! We gave you Richard back! That’s something!

Meanwhile, Det. Goodis turned out to be Det. Bad-is. The scene where he, Dr. K and Hud were fighting over the gun was pretty stressful for viewers. It did, for a few minutes, seem as though the secret had died with him.
Goodis, in my mind, up until the point that he got screwed was on board with Dylan and really wanted to help her. As with everyone on the show, there are times when you have the best intentions and things don’t work out. He wanted to get out of the situation he was in and made some poor decisions. And that’s why Dylan felt so lost at that moment. Goodis was dead and Veronica was in a coma and no one else could tell her about Richard. She had to find it out for herself. I really wanted her to have the win at the end of the season.

Thank goodness for that feather!
I know! There were other feathers. If you go back over the season there were other feathers in the trunk of the car and on Veronica. I got a lot of grief when we were shooting that because we had these feathers and people kept asking me about them. I said, ‘Don’t worry guys, it will all make sense.’


Dr. Hud was interesting this season; he has to attend counselling for PTSD. Pair that with London’s visions and Richard’s mental state and you were very respectful while shining a spotlight on mental health.
Ultimately, we wanted to talk about family and issues that families deal with. To think about the Blakes, who have made such poor decisions when it’s come to dealing with Richard’s illness … it’s been the old-school way of dealing with things. Just keep it quiet and pretend it’s not happening. Dylan represents the youth, not keeping things hiding in the shadows and talking about what they are struggling with. That’s a great thing because teenagers are so open these things.

It would have been easy to just have Hud be the hunky doctor with the perfectly-sculpted stubble with no depth.
We cast for that, knowing that there would more to him. The first part of the season he’s really seen through the eyes of Dylan, who has a crush on him and he’s a player. And then there’s a subtle switch midway through the season where you start to see his point of view, which I’m pretty proud of. I’m really into characters who change mid-season and I think thats why the fans are really into him, because we did it slowly.

London started off the season with no men in her life. Now she has two kissing her and telling her they love her. That’s complicated.
Hud has been making bad decisions all season, so it’s exciting because you see he’s going to make one more when he’s going to kiss her. It’s great, and sexy and all that but also, ‘Oh no!’ People are very into them, though. Right now it’s all about Hud and London.

You left many questions open at the end of the night, including if there will be a Season 2. What’s happening? Have you been greenlit? Are you waiting to hear?
We are waiting. We are expecting news any day. We are very hopeful and our networks have been very supportive of the show. They love it and want to see more. The writers and I have been working over the last couple of months just getting ready and developing story ideas and every idea we have is super-exciting.

What did you think of Season 1 of Open Heart? Comment below or on Twitter @tv_eh.


4 thoughts on “Interview: Open Heart boss reveals Season 1 secrets”

  1. As someone who has been watching all 435354 seasons of Pretty Little Liars, thank you Ramona for giving us actual answers.

    The feather thing just wrinkled my brain. I’ll have to go back and watch for them.


  3. WE LOVE OPEN HEART YOU CAN’T JUST SAY ITS OVER NO MATTER HARD WORK YOUR THE BEST IN YTV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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