Wynonna Earp showrunner Emily Andras talks Season 2, laundry and Sheriff Nedley

There’s a reason I love chatting with Emily Andras. It’s not just because she’s been a writer and producer on stellar programs like Killjoys and Lost Girl and has created the scintillating sci-fi series Wynonna Earp from Beau Smith’s kick-ass comic. Those are great reasons on their own. No, I love speaking to Andras because she’s witty, self-deprecating and strictly no-bullshit.

With Wynonna Earp roaring back to our TVs this Friday at 10 p.m. ET on Space, I was looking forward to her take on where Wynonna, Waverly, Doc, Dolls and Haught were headed in their sophomore season as well as a peek back at what she learned from Season 1.

Where are you at in the process of Season 2 now?
Emily Andras: The big bulk of my work is done. It was five days a week and now it’s three days a week. Of course, now everyone is talking about Season 3 development and I’m like, ‘Uh, can I just do one load of laundry?’

And, of course, you’ll be live tweeting too.
Yes, I’m increasing my wine intake in preparation for Friday nights. The thing about live tweeting is it’s such a gas. Can I just say, publicly, that if you’re sort of a normal person who I know in the Canadian television industry, mute me now because of the live tweeting. No hard feelings, actual people, if you want to mute my Twitter while I live tweet. We’ve been public about the fact that fan interaction is what made our show and got us a second season. The cast isn’t contractually obligated to live tweet; we do it because we love the show.

At the end of the day, the Earp sisters are the heart of the show. And just winding up Melanie Scrofano and letting her go. Her performance in Season 2 makes her performance in Season 1 look like garbage.

How important were the fans when it came to second season storylines?
I’ve been pretty honest about this. It’s the new conundrum for every showrunner, which is that fan engagement is incredibly important, but at the same time you need to tell a story and not everybody can be involved. It often give the analogy of driving a bus. I’m going to be driving the Wynonna Earp bus and you can get on the bus if you want. You can yell at me while we’re on the bus, you can hoot and holler out the window and you can get off the bus if you don’t like where it’s going. We can’t all grab the wheel of the bus because then we’ll go off a cliff.

As much as I appreciate the fan engagement, my job is to tell a good story and make you feel things. I want to surprise you. I love the fan engagement but I don’t necessarily take fan instruction if that makes any sense. I just can’t. I just try to put that aside when I’m putting together a season with my amazing writers. We just try to think of what we can do to take these people on a ride and make them feel things and, hopefully, feel satisfied at the end of the day.

What was your post-mortem on Season 1? Were there things you wished you’d done differently?
There definitely was. I am not being falsely modest when I say I was genuinely amazed when people got the show. We were running around in the woods in Alberta going, ‘I don’t know if anyone is going to watch this thing.’ I think there was a lot of soul-searching from Syfy, to be honest, and to their credit and some of the things they thought they would tweak—when it came to focus testing some of the things we did in Season 1—were really popular. They said, ‘Throw that out, we want to stick with what is working.’ I think the thing that was personally the most important to me was just keeping the tone of the first season. At the end of the day, the Earp sisters are the heart of the show. And just winding up Melanie Scrofano and letting her go. Her performance in Season 2 makes her performance in Season 1 look like garbage.

There was something in every single episode of Season 1 that I would have done differently. A joke that didn’t work or a special effect that didn’t work, but pace and tone and making more of what worked was what I was most concerned about.

You introduce new characters in Season 2 and as I watched the first episode, “Steel Bars and Stone Walls,” I recalled your reference to Buffy the Vampire, and this being a version of the Scooby Gang. We’re getting that.
One thing that I noticed that Buffy did really well and we didn’t get a chance to do a lot of in Season 1 was, part of the best parts of Buffy was when the team is working together. I wanted to get more of that in Season 2. The more of my amazing cast I can cram into one scene—bickering or yelling or figuring things out—the better the energy was. That’s definitely something you’ll see more of this season.

Were there any milestones you wanted to hit in Season 2?
One of the things we wanted to do, and the network encouraged us to do, was to take on a little bit more of the comic book tradition by Beau Smith—who we all adore—and expand the world from just demon revenants into more supernatural creatures. We wanted to have Wynonna and the team fighting more of those. We had a lot of fun with that. We also wanted to have some more long form storytelling and arcing. It’s still, ultimately, about the curse and Wynonna trying to do this thing that she’s destined to do. There are so many surprises this year and I think something happens at midseason that turns everything on its head that I’m really excited about. All in all, it was about the spirit and fun of the comic book and seeing if we could lean into that, even more, this year.

We are definitely going to find out more about Dolls and what he is. In the grand Lost tradition, as we get answers it sometimes raises more questions. I hope it’s interesting and compelling and satisfying.

When we pick up on Friday, the team is trying to save Dolls. We keep getting peeks that he’s something. Will we find out what he is—or isn’t—by the end of this season?
We are definitely going to find out more about Dolls and what he is. In the grand Lost tradition, as we get answers it sometimes raises more questions. I hope it’s interesting and compelling and satisfying.

What can you say about the Black Badge?
I like the mystery of the Black Badge. The idea of them being a paranormal government agency … how the hell does that happen!? I like the idea that, at the end of the day, they don’t seem as legit. I always like the idea that there’s another big bad.

Will Sheriff Nedley join the team as well?
He’s in and out. I freaking love Greg Lawson. He is so good this year. He is like, #hero. My favourite thing about him, as a character, is he refuses to be impressed by these idiot young people. He just doesn’t care because he’s seen it all. He’s just counting down the days until retirement. He’s nobody’s fool and sees more than you think he does. We just kept going back to the well on Nedley this year because he’s so funny and useful to bring down the rest of the characters and their drama. Greg Lawson is a delight. I think he’s one of the most underrated actors in Canada.

Was he planned to be a short-term character and then you expanded the role?
It was more that I thought he was going to be a dipshit. He was going to be Boss Hogg, a slightly racist, slightly homophobic small-town sheriff, kind of what we saw in the pilot was what we were going to get. But, it wasn’t necessarily the best fit for Greg and I believe it’s good to lean into people’s strengths if you can. So much of the show is about not making assumptions about people—what they look like and what have you—similarly I thought it was much more interesting to have Sheriff Nedley be a little bit more diverse and a smarter guy. He can be a small-town dude that loves hunting and fishing and still be an open-minded, literate gentleman.

Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET on Space.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
Greg David
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