It’s been over 24 hours since the season finale of Workin’ Moms and I’m still reeling.
“Look Back” was, of course, beautiful and funny thanks to Anne (Dani Kind) and Lionel’s (Ryan Belleville) commitment ceremony that reunited the clan and saw the reappearance of Jann Arden as Kate Carlson. Throw in Val’s (Sarah McVie) outrageous dress choice and overshare about Alicia’s (Kat Barrell) bedroom antics and there was plenty to laugh at and enjoy.
But, in a stunning reveal, we learned Nathan (Philip Sternberg) and Mean Nanny (Jess Salgueiro) have been having an affair. This just minutes after Kate (Catherine Reitman) and Nathan’s quickie in the wedding hall bathroom. Now it appears as though Kate could end up pregnant. All this after a season where Kate lost two jobs, strained her friendship with Anne and started her own business. It was just too much; we had to get Workin’ Moms‘ creator, showrunner, executive producer, star and director Reitman on the phone to discuss it all!
Most showrunners, in a second season of a series, will expand their characters’ worlds a bit. But you blew the show up and sent them in different directions. Was that always your intention?
Catherine Reitman: Yes and no. We learn so much, the writers and Philip and I, during production. You can imagine things all day but the chemistry that happens in front of the camera absolutely determines things for me. Once I get in the edit bay and go, ‘Oh man! No wonder the audience is going crazy for him or her.’ I want to honour what’s meant to be and not just try to control it. Did I have a sneaking suspicion Sarah McVie was going to make Val the funniest character in the world? Yes. But did I know how great she was going to be? No. That’s something that I’m continuing to push forward. Even now I’m scratching my head in the Season 3 writers’ room wondering how I better feature our talent, how do I best include the chemistry that we’re witnessing. The yes part of it is, of course, I knew Jenny and Ian [Jessalyn Wanlim] and Ian [Dennis Andres] were never going to make it and there had to be consequences to her actions. That was something I had intended. So, yes and no.
You mentioned Val already. There were many funny moments this season and in the finale, but there were very serious moments too. Kate and Anne’s friendship … those characters were so real this season. Everyone can relate to them.
I’m so in love with Anne and Kate. I moved my world to Toronto two years ago and I don’t have a lot of close friends in my life. I have the people that I work with, my incredible kids and my husband. And I think most women that are full-time working moms are hungry for a friendship like that. We’re so desperate to see a connection like that. Dani Kind and I have become very close in real life and I saw our chemistry on-camera—which very much exists off-camera too—but I don’t think anyone, including me, knew how potent it would be. We started going, ‘OK, this is the real love story.’ The husbands and the partners are fantastic but what our audience really seems to be thumping their hearts for is the Kate-Anne storyline. And I do think that’s because so many women crave that in real life. I made the decision to direct the first and last episodes to bookend what a friendship could look like over a decade.
Let’s discuss the Brad storyline. I believe your scripts were already written when the #MeToo movement happened, correct?
You’re absolutely right.
It was a dramatic arc with, I feel, Anne getting her mojo back after perhaps questioning her strength.
As far as the #MeToo movement goes, it has always existed. It’s this fantastic thing where victims are now having a voice. All of the women in our room, for the most part, had some uncomfortable stories with an authority figure. No one was hypnotized. We thought there was something that could potentially be funny, potentially be really creepy and bothersome. But, most importantly, that it would challenge this character we love to see as strong. People love that Anne is a no-nonsense ass kicker. So of all the characters, to see her emotionally threatened in a sexually deviant way by someone she trusted, her husband, it felt like the right combo to take her on a great arc. And then you have someone as brilliant as Christopher Redman come in [as Brad]. I think I saw the whole country of Canada, Greg, I read for that role for weeks and weeks and weeks because it’s a really tricky role. Chris had this amazing ability of making him very believable and nuanced while also tapping into funny even though it’s very serious subject matter. It was really exciting to cast him and realize we had something real on our hands.
Let’s break down the season finale. We had happy moments thanks to Lionel and Anne, and we had the sad because of the revelation Mean Nanny and Nathan are having an affair. With everything that Kate has been through this season—the death of her father, losing two jobs and a falling out with Anne—why this?
[Laughs.] It’s true. She got her ass kicked this season. Something that we’re really hemming and hawing about in the Season 3 writers’ room is … look, nothing justifies having an affair. I’m a married woman of 10 years, I can wrap my head around that. Kate, whether we like to admit it not, had both feet, head, arms, legs, breasts, her whole body out the door this entire season. She hasn’t been on the same page as her husband and there are consequences to that. I don’t think she asked for this and I don’t think she deserves this. But in my quest to have it all, in the hours that I spend working and the hours that I have left that I want to give to my children, my marriage often suffers for it. Luckily, Philip is in the same game as me. For most couples, the pressure to keep things alive … fuck sex, just staying emotionally connected is so much responsibility. As a showrunner, I knew the audience wouldn’t see that coming. It is a really effective gut punch. But, if you go back over the season, we planted so many seeds to show this coming.
What was Phil’s reaction to this story angle for Nathan and Kate?
We held off letting him know that detail. About halfway through writing the season the network comes in and we pitch them what we have so far. Philip came to that and we went through to the end and I looked right at him and I could tell his socks were knocked off. Phil is always story above all else. He was totally on board for it. The day of was challenging and the person I felt most for was Jess Salgueiro. She was just incredible on the day. Not only did she have to kiss Phil but I had to direct her in doing it. I pray every director gets to work with someone like Jess because there was no bullshit. She brought her A-game. Never for a second did I see her sweat or feeling uncomfortable. I was so impressed with her.
Where are you at with Season 3?
We’ve got about six episodes outlined that we’re just starting to draft out. That being said, everything can change. After watching the season finale last night, I thought, ‘You know what this needs? This, that and the other.’ I’m re-opening the outline of the first episode so it’s still all a Tetris board.
Do you think Kate should confront Nathan right away or should she focus on building her business? What was your favourite storyline from Season 2? Let me know in the comments below!