'Finding Carter' Showrunner Discusses Rebranding: "Less of a Melodrama, More Grounded"

"The family dynamics will still play into it," executive producer Emily Whitesell tells THR. "But this show is really about the teens and their lives, colored by what they've all been through and how the show started."
Courtesy of MTV

Don't call Finding Carter a kidnapping drama.

MTV's series may have started out with a young teen, Carter (Kathryn Prescott), getting her world turned upside down when she finds out the woman who raised her, Lori (Milena Govich), is not her mother, but rather the woman who abducted her from her real family when she was only a toddler. But Finding Carter is rebranding as it heads into the second half of its second season.

Executive producer Emily Whitesell spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about how Finding Carter is shifting its focus to a more teen-centric storyline for season 2B, as well as what viewers can expect to see from the "more realistic" storylines as the MTV drama moves away from it's more melodramatic kidnapping premise. 

Lori has now been released from jail and cleared of all charges from kidnapping Carter, and the season 2B trailer reveals that she's moving to the same town as Carter's family. How is this going to affect the Wilsons?

Actually, this might come as a surprise, but – yes, that is still a part of the show, the adults having to deal with each other and Carter having to deal with it emotionally, the fact that Lori is there – but the season focuses way more on the kids and their teen life and things that Carter is really up to. So while that story will still play out and have repercussions, the season really centers on the kids. Ben, this new brother, is moving in with Lori, so how are they all dealing with him, and Carter has an important thing happen in her love life, Crash comes back briefly but there is someone new in her life, and there's an enormous change for her in that she drops out of school and starts her own life. There's a lot of teen energy going on in the show this year, which we thought was fun to explore what it means growing up and figuring out your place in the world.

That change in the focus of the plot is very evident in the premiere episode. Why did you decide to make that conscious shift?

Teens are very interested in that part of their own lives. That's intriguing to them, watching these characters struggle with the same issues they struggle with in real life. The family dynamics will still play into it, but this show is really about the teens and their lives, colored by what they've all been through and how the show started. Finding Carter began as a drama about a kidnapped girl returning home and all the intrigue that came with that, but now it's about the teens learning to live with what happened and finding their place and autonomy. We pushed the show into melodrama a lot and now it's less of a melodrama and more grounded and takes place in real life situations.

Now that the Wilson family knows that Ben exists, how are their relationships with him going to evolve?

They will all have a different point of view. As you'll see in the first episode, Carter is very interested in the fact that she has this brother and she'll be focused on bringing him into the family. But what we'll find in Ben is that he's very similar to Carter when she first was introduced to the Wilsons, and he may not be as interested in them as they are in him. He's lived a very traumatic life, and he's volatile and independent. And watching David as he finds out he has another son, that will be interesting to see how he deals with it and Elizabeth will have very complicated feelings about the whole situation. And then Taylor and Grant will have strong feelings about how their family is constantly changing.

Ben has a really shady past as viewers will come to learn in the premiere. Is he looking to turn over a new leaf with his new life?

He's very complicated and slowly will start to have feelings for his new family, but at the same time, he comes from where he comes from. He's not a bad person, but he's lived a hard life. We'll explore the moral dilemmas of Ben a lot this season.

Carter's been struggling a lot with figuring out what to do with her future. What are we going to see from that this season?

Carter is going to drop out of school and get a job bartending – which is illegal since Carter's underage. Elizabeth won't find out right away but as any parent would, she's going to struggle with that, deciding whether or not to give Carter this freedom. That's going to put a stress on their relationship because they both believe they know what's best.

Carter and Crash have never had a normal relationship but they clearly love each other. Are we going to see them happy together this season, or will there be bumps in the road?

Carter has helped Crash find who he is in the world, and they are deeply in love. That's the seminal relationship right now of the series, but he's going to need to leave and deal with his own life so that leaves Carter to deal with hers alone. So we'll see them apart, and hopefully they'll find their way back to each other. Of course, there are going to be some major bumps when someone new, an older guy [played by Jackson Rathbone] comes into Carter's life, and this is going to be an enormous relationship in her life. Things won't be easy.

Gabe (Jesse Henderson) seems to be in a downward spiral in the wake of his father's death. How far are we going to see him fall this season?

He will have some low points, but ultimately he'll come back to the right place. The idea of losing your parent is so enormous so he'll struggle. It's going to be really moving and Taylor cares so much for him, so even though she and Max are fairly solid in their relationship, her old feelings for Gabe and his new feelings for her might affect that. It's all going to get very complicated.

There's a line in the premiere about Ofe (Jesse Carere) being sent to rehab to explain Carere's absence since he's now starring on Netflix's Between. Is there any chance we'll see him return this season?

Not this season. We love Ofe and clearly he's a big part of our world, so we wanted to address him dropping off the face of the earth. That happens sometimes in shows, and we'd love to have him back in the future.

Finding Carter returns Tuesday at 10 p.m. on MTV. Watch an exclusive first look at the new episodes below.

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