New 'Devious Maids' Boss Talks Sexier, More Mysterious Season 3

Brian Tanen talks with THR about taking over from Marc Cherry and previews what to expect from cast additions Naya Rivera, Gilles Marini and more.
Lifetime

The second season of Lifetime’s Devious Maids concluded with a cliffhanger after Ty (Gideon Glick) fired shots into the crowd during Rosie (Dania Ramirez) and Spence’s (Grant Show) wedding.

But when the third season kicks off Monday, the fates of the newly married couple, along with leading ladies Zoila (Judy Reyes), Carmen (Roselyn Sanchez) and Marisol (Ana Ortiz) will be revealed.

That’s just the beginning of what’s in store for the new season, which also features new cast additions Naya Rivera (Glee) and Gilles Marini (Switched at Birth), as well as a new season-long mystery for the ladies to solve and characters who will be called into question. Also new is showrunner Brian Tanen (Desperate Housewives), who takes over the reins from series creator Marc Cherry, who took a lesser role in season three in order to focus on other projects.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Tanen to chat about his first year as showrunner, a sexier, more mysterious season and his education in the Marc Cherry brand.

What were some of the challenges of taking over as showrunner?

I’ve been in this Marc Cherry camp for about four seasons now, so that’s how I ended up in this position. But this is my first time showrunning, so it is all sort of fun and new and challenging to me. We really wanted to find the excitement of the show and return to what really made it fun in season one. To really find a great mystery and jump in, amp everything up, make it more fun, sexier, more mysterious — all the things we love about the show. So those were my goals for the year.

Would you call Marc a mentor?

Oh absolutely, I would not be in this position without Marc. He taught me how to do his brand of mystery and comedy and drama. What Marc does is unlike anything else on TV; it’s a giant combination of things that all together somehow work. So first off I had to learn the style and then second I’ve just watched him and his unique brand of decision-making and perfectionism. I’ve tried to emulate that. Marc is still very much involved with the season. He really did a tremendous job helping us set up the building blocks for the year; we’re executing his vision.

There’s a lightness to the first episode back; was that intentional?

Historically we’ve had the mystery maybe infusing the first episode from the get-go, and here the mystery is a little more of a slow burn and doesn’t really kick in right away. As a result, the episode may feel a little bit lighter. I don’t know if that’s an intentional thing, but I do like comedy so there may be a little bit more comedy this year. And even more brightness and fun.

What can you set up about this season’s overarching mystery?

Something terrible has happened in one of the homes in Beverly Hills, and what we’ll be teasing out over the course of the season is what exactly happened, how it went down and who was responsible for it. There’s a set of mysterious characters, including a potentially creepy child who may have had something to do with this.

What’s the trick to giving enough of that mystery to the audience every week while keeping the show’s quick pace?

It’s always a balance; at the heart of the show there’s almost a workplace comedy because there’s a lot of fun between bosses and employees. We always like the episodes to have a maid angle. We try to come up with stories that represent the reality of these women and what their circumstances would be. Then the mystery is sort of its own character, in about a quarter of every episode.

You guys have a lot of soap opera tropes — what’s the trick to keeping them fresh?

One of the amazing things Marc did with Desperate Housewives and now with Devious Maids is he combined a more traditional soap opera with dark comedy. So you can take a traditional soap trope and put a spin on it by having the characters more aware. They comment on the craziness around them and are funny about the craziness that’s going on around them. That’s definitely a great ingredient in our mix, is that we can have fun with the traditional soap tropes.

Someone dies in the first episode. Did you know it would be that person last season?

When we had the big cliffhanger at the end of last season we had some ideas about who could be either killed or injured in that shooting. We circled around a number of people, but we were not always 100 percent certain that it would be the person it was. We considered all sorts of possibilities. We knew there had to be major consequences from the shooting; it’s a cop-out to have something like that happen and then have the gunman miss every single person when he fired into the crowd. We knew there had to be major consequences for not only characters, but characters we care about. So that’s how we came to the decision of who got shot.

What can you say about Naya Rivera’s addition to the cast?

That was a big get for us, we were very excited to have her join the season. We had this pivotal role for a new housekeeper who is friends with our established group, and when we were trying to cast it Lifetime was very interested in having a name actress play the role. Naya was the first name we came up with. I wasn’t even sure that would even be a possibility so when she signed up we were very excited.

Last year we learned Rosie’s husband isn’t dead after all. How does he factor in?

The return of Ernesto (Cristian de la Fuente) is looming large in our world and will have major effects on all of our characters this season.

Gilles Marini is also on board as Carmen’s love interest, who we met last season. What can you preview?

This season she’s going to continue her relationship with this sexy man, knowing that she’s playing with fire. She’s involved in an affair, she knows that it’s wrong, but she kind of can’t stay away from him. He’s like her kryptonite. We’re going to play the fun of that relationship and the tremendous chemistry between those two actors. The scenes are very hot and those two are very fun and sexy together.

Devious Maids returns Monday at 9 p.m. on Lifetime. Who do you think will die in the premiere? Sound off in the comments below. 

Twitter: @amber_dowling

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