'Killjoys' Creator on Avoiding Love Triangles, 'Aliens' Influence

Michelle Lovretta talks moving on from 'Lost Girl' and creating a vast new universe.
Syfy

Lost Girl doesn't sign off until later this year, but creator Michelle Lovretta has already been hard at work on her next act.

Killjoys  a co-production between Syfy and Canada's Space – centers on Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), a beautiful but lethal Level 5 bounty hunter in outer space. In the pilot, her partnership with Level 3 hunter John (Aaron Ashmore) is put to the test after a kill warrant shows up for his brother D'Avin (Luke Macfarlane).

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Lovretta to discuss creating the show's "huge ass bible," why platonic friendships are underrepresented in general and the "joy" of putting a strong woman back into a spaceship.

After co-showrunning Lost Girl for a season you gradually stepped back. What’s your commitment level here?

I wouldn’t change what I did with Lost Girl. They have a lot of really wonderful, talented people go through their doors, and that benefited the show because every season was an influx of different thoughts and creativity. I’ve come to appreciate a bit more what I bring as a creator and that the consistency of my presence is a creative benefit to the show. I will be completely behind the reigns for at least two seasons. I am somebody who really likes development; that’s my favorite thing to do. So after showrunning, which is extremely arduous, my brains go to creating other worlds. In the past I’ve been impatient and let that lead me, but now I love this world so much and I know that I need to take care of it and protect it.

This is a huge world – how big was the original show bible?

It was a huge ass bible. The funny thing is when I was first in development Space had said they wanted a mini bible. Nope! Part of that is strategic in the end — with this amount of world-building you have to put in a certain degree of exposition. You need to teach the audience your world in an entertaining way, but I like to minimize that aspect as much as I can while still making a strong structure that’s easy for the audience to understand. Networks are very keen in the early stages of making sure that everything about the world is explained within five pages, which I — and most writers — am opposed to. I find most bibles helpful because they help those gatekeepers get a sense of what the full world is. Parts of this bible are still secret even to the writers because we have a fair amount of serialization. Since the networks can see that in advance they then feel much more comfortable saying, “OK. You can put it in at your own pace.”

What is that pace?

We’ve taken the fun, adventure and the accessibility that a warrant-of-the week provides us in the first four episodes as an organic way to take a tour of this universe, to meet the people who are going to become continuing characters and to meet the systems that are at play. Once we have set that solid foundation, we set our backstories and our mysteries and we get increasingly serialized.

The sexuality on Lost Girl was pretty groundbreaking. How is it treated in Killjoys?

If you understand Lost Girl, you understand my viewpoint. I’m not particularly interested or adept at creating a fictional world that strays from that — I wouldn’t want to create a fantasy world on television that is bleaker than the real world. Killjoys is less sexual because Lost Girl, as conceived, was about exploring female sexuality. It wasn’t really about exploiting it. Killjoys isn’t about that, so it would be a little cheap for us to just trot that sexuality out. This is much more about class and about individuals versus groups. There are still obviously relationships and sexiness and all that because that’s the humanity, and it’s fun. But the focus isn’t on it.

Was the relationship between Dutch and John always meant to be platonic?

I sold it very strenuously as platonic from the beginning when I was pitching it. I’ve done a show that benefited from a love triangle, and there’s a great deal of fun to be mined, emotional heartache and all those good things, but I try not to go immediately back to things I’ve already dug into. Platonic friendship is something that personally, I have always deeply and dearly valued and been slightly frustrated at the short shift it’s given in a lot of stories. This triangle isn’t a love triangle; it’s a relationship triangle. On one end it’s about estranged brothers, on the other it’s about attractive partners who have made themselves a sort of family by choice. How is that challenged by this new guy dropping into the middle of it? Then the third angle of that would be sexual tension between Dutch and D’Avin. There are a lot of pretty people on this show, so that’s going to happen. Sure, maybe if we are fortunate enough to get a ton of seasons, maybe John becomes the Pacey. It’s just not my intent. I really value that these guys are peers that have each other’s back and are able to appreciate each other without overly sexualizing each other.

Did you have any specific influences when writing this?

Aliens. As a young girl, Sigourney Weaver made me feel welcomed into these worlds. Being able to look at a world like that and know there was a place for a character like Ripley to be the hero without her diminishing anybody else or without anybody thinking it was questionable was important for me when I was young. That plays into Dutch. I really, really miss Ripley. Ripley was emblematic and important to me; being able to put a strong woman back into a spaceship has been a joy for me on a private level.

Creatively, the other show that really informed this was a movie called Outland. I loved the idea that Sean Connery was basically a cop in space. It was pairing this really exotic world with a very relatable, normal job. To a degree that’s what we’re trying to do as well. You get to have the fun times in space but you also get to have this relatable, reliable engine at the core of that.

Killjoys premieres Friday at 9 p.m. on Syfy and Space.

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Twitter: @amber_dowling

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