'Finding Carter' Boss on Finale Cliffhanger, Season 2's Tonal Shift and Renewal Hopes

"We have a lot of choices about how to deal with it from the emotional feelings that Max would have about the whole thing and legally as well," EP Emily Whitesell tells THR of the finale.
Courtesy of MTV

[Warning: This post contains spoilers from Finding Carter's season two finale, "Atonement."]

Finding Carter ended its second season Tuesday, but where the MTV drama goes from here remains to be seen.

The series, which started out as a drama about a teenager learning her "mother" was actually her kidnapper, underwent a dramatic creative shift in its second season — choosing instead to focus on Carter's (Kathryn Prescott) relationships with her friends and romantic interests and siblings.

The season two finale culminated in Carter's BFF Max (Alex Saxon) coming clean to the police after killing Carter's older boyfriend Jared (Jackson Rathbone) to protect her. Carter convinced Max to tell the truth no matter the consequences, while her sister Taylor (Anna Jacoby-Heron) wanted Lori (Milena Govich) to take the fall since she was ready and willing. In the end, Max did the right thing and the finale ended on a cliffhanger: What will happen to Max now that he's in police custody? Just how, or if those burning questions will be answered depends on whether Finding Carter will be renewed.

As the series awaits word on its future,The Hollywood Reporter spoke with executive producer Emily Whitesell about the future of the series, why she decided to move away from the show's original premise, and more.

What was the feeling in the writers room when you were planning out how this season would end, not knowing if you'd come back for a third season?

It was, 'What would be a good cliffhanger-y push?' If we were going to continue, what would be interesting to leave everyone hanging and holding on, and what does our audience care about? And what would we like to see? And then try to get a consensus from the network about what they would care about as well. We came up with many, many different ideas and this was the one we all agreed on.

Now that Max turned himself in to the police for killing Jared to protect Carter, what does that mean for him going forward? Would the potential new season focus on his legal battle to stay out of jail?

I don't personally think that the audience would be hugely interested in watching a giant legal battle with Max on TV. But we all care deeply about Max and what would happen to him. The beauty of this is, essentially, depending on how we want to go back and retell details of the story beyond what we've seen, the idea that he didn't mean to do it. It was an accident and he was trying to protect someone. And as we know from this show, there are a lot of ways that a trial could go. So we have a lot of choices about how to deal with it from the emotional feelings that Max would have about the whole thing and legally as well.

His confession also signaled a divide between Carter and Taylor, since they each wanted different things for him. Would we see their relationship fracture even more next season?

The moral choices they were willing to make in the moment represent the rift between them. They're incredibly close but they have all kinds of baggage between them, especially where Max is concerned. It would be interesting to delve into that between the two of them and give us a way to complicate their relationship.

The finale revealed Crash (Caleb Ruminer) lied to Carter about seeing someone, since he's still in love with her. Will next season focus on their relationship again?

We didn't want to discount everything Carter went through and how deeply she felt for Jared. But we all have that person that is our rock and the feelings between them never went away. Every time she had a doubt about Jared, she always went back to Crash. And who Crash has become is the ideal person she would want to love. They have a very deep bond and I'd love to play with what that means to her moving forward.

Ben (Ben Winchell) was left pretty much for dead by the end of the finale after getting into a fight with his drug dealer boss. What would his story look like going forward?

We are finally on Ben's side after not knowing for so much of the season who he really was and what he's all about. Did his circumstances growing up shape him or has he always been drawn to the dark side so much that he can't come back from it? We ended up knowing that he has a great heart, and it really is just the circumstances that made him act the way he did. We're on his side, but he's been sucked back into this life in a way that he may not get out of. Will he triumph eventually? I wanted to leave it up in the air. It could go either way with him.

There was a very conscious shift in subject matter of the show this season. You focused less on the kidnapping storyline that launched the series and more so on the teens' lives. How do you feel that was received by the viewers?

I'm not really as conscious as everyone in the press as to how the viewers felt specifically about the show moving on. But as someone who creates series and tells stories all the time, you can't just continue to tell stories about a girl who was kidnapped. That was her story but she settled into a new life and moved on. Yes, everything she does for the rest of her life will be colored by where she came from, but that story runs out. To the extent that we can keep that story alive, we do. Lori is still in her life, this family still has to deal with her. That never goes away. But life moves on. We couldn't continue to tell stories about the premise of the pilot forever. The story just runs out and you have to tell new stories. People may have opinions about it but I don't know how to continue to tell new stories about that. It's over.

How do you feel about the state of scripted shows on the network in the wake of programming president Susanne Daniels' departure, and where does Finding Carter fit in?

I don't really involve myself too much in the politics of the network. I'm more of the creative end. So if the show is picked up and they need it to go in a certain creative direction, I'll pitch them where I think the show should go. But I don't get involved in how they're feeling about what shows they want to pick up or not.

Do you want to see Finding Carter return for a third season?

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