'Suburgatory' Boss Dissects Climactic Finale, Reveals Season 3 Plans
Looking ahead, creator/executive producer Emily Kapnek tells THR that George and Tessa's conflict will be "at the forefront."
[Warning: Major spoilers from Wednesday's season finale.]
All is not well in Chatswin.
Suburgatory wrapped up the sophomore season with a town in flux. Are George (Jeremy Sisto) and Tessa (Jane Levy) done? How serious is Tessa's non-existent mother, Alex (Malin Akerman), about staying in town this time around? Will George and Dallas (Cheryl Hines) ever find their way back to each other? Is Tess and Ryan's (Parker Young) romance truly over?
Creator and executive producer Emily Kapnek talks to The Hollywood Reporter about the aftermath of Wednesday's one-hour finale and what she may be concocting for a third season.
The Hollywood Reporter: What are you hoping to explore in season three? (ABC has not officially renewed Suburgatory.)
Emily Kapnek: For George and Tessa to get back to their relationship and try to remedy things, particularly if it winds up with Alex in the picture. We’re very hopeful that we get to tell a story line with Malin Akerman where George is forced to co-parent with somebody he thought was out of the picture. One of things I’m most looking forward to in season three is the moment where Tessa finds out that it didn’t go the way George was expecting, that Dallas didn’t move in with him and that her dad is potentially by himself and hurting. That will be hard for Tessa to feel concrete about being with Alex when she gets that piece of information. [George and Tessa have] had a very challenged season in terms of their relationship but ultimately when push comes to shove, these are characters who are very close and feel very connected to each other -- and George’s intentions with Tessa have always been good. I’m excited about any which way we get to revisit this story.
THR: And George has Dalia (Carly Chaikin), for now at least.
Kapnek: [Laughs] And he has his dog. From what we’ve learned with Dalia’s character and her vindictive streak, her relationship with George and the quick leap into “Daddy Altman” land -- probably did start as a tool that she was intending to use to make her dad jealous and even to annoy Tessa. But it evolved into something else. Dalia has a genuine relationship with George at this point. He represents a certain kind of parent she probably didn’t have access to and she has genuine feelings of warmth and connection to him. She’ll be super crushed by the idea that her mom’s not going to be dating George, and not just from the point of hurting Tessa or hurting her dad, but for herself. But when George has a better understanding – because he only touches on it in the finale – of what’s going on with Tessa and Dalia, it’s going to be hard for him to maintain a relationship with Dalia.
THR: George and Dallas have gone through ups and downs, but their breakup scene shed light on their varying perspectives on their romance. At one point, Dallas tells George, “You learned to love me.” Is that an accurate assessment?
Kapnek: They both made good points in that scene. They’re both right and I hope you’ve seen the evidence of what they both say. We let Cheryl [Hines] know early on about Dallas' insecurity, so she’s playing it for a few episodes leading up to this. Especially with George asking her to move in in a very unromantic, practical way, that there’s some validity. She’s not completely wrong, but she’s probably sabotaging her own happiness. She’s got a lot of insecurity and George points that out. Here’s a guy who hasn’t done anything but try to make her happy and is trying to do the right thing by her and for some reason it’s not enough. What it is Dallas looking for? Maybe she has to work on more within herself but I don’t think she’s entirely wrong or George is either. That’s what makes that breakup scene so great is that I get both of their point of views. I see both sides of it.
THR: Will Dallas and George come toward each other in season three? Is that part of your plan?
Kapnek: Maybe. I feel like coming into season three, George and Tessa are at the forefront. They have reason to believe that Chatswin has had their way with them. They feel bitter about the town because of the way things fall apart at the end of season two. They have a united front there, and as far as George and Dallas goes, there’s the potential but there is more road to walk before we would revisit that. Dallas has some work to do on herself and George needs to examine everything. Maybe he was withholding and maybe he wasn’t as emotionally invested as he could have been. Who knows. Maybe there’s someone else out there for him, or maybe he’ll discover he’s got a deeper investment in Dallas than he realized. The first order of business is him and Tessa working to repair that relationship, especially with the fallout they’ve had and seeing whether or not that involves Alex, which will depend on Malin Akerman’s schedule. (Akerman has an ABC comedy pilot Trophy Wife in contention.) Creatively, I’d love to tell those stories.
THR: Tessa and Ryan wrapped up their story in a very beautiful way, but will there be a chance Ryan returns in substantial way?
Kapnek: Like George and Dallas, they’re an unlikely match. They have incredible chemistry, and it's easier to say goodbye when you’re in a fight and at odds, but Ryan shows up and they have their great scene and great moment together. It’s a way of telling us that when these two are in the same orbit, they’re drawn to each other. Parker [Young, a castmember on Fox comedy pilot Enlisted,] is a really important part of our show and world. We’ll definitely be revisiting their dynamic too.
THR: Noah's (Alan Tudyk) arc in the past few episodes brought some levity. How did you come up with his specific story line?
Kapnek: [Laughs] Believe me, that one was a little harder to push through. Everyone was like, “What?!” His vendetta [against Dr. Bob], the depths he sinks to in the finale, is so funny. He’s going to have to put that past him and find a way to move on. I imagine Noah will be in a lot of trouble.
THR: So will season three have a slightly more serious tone considering where the finale leaves the characters?
Kapnek: I don’t think we can say that about the whole season. Coming into it, there’s some piece [of that] to what we’re exploring with George and Tessa, but Chatswin is Chatswin. The Shay family is the Shay family, and Dallas and Dalia. There’s this duality and that’s one of the great things. For George to be in as dark of a place that he can be in that particular moment and however down he’s feeling, just down the road in the Shay house, there’s probably something insane going on. It will be true to form to our show in that we’ve always got the surrounding characters that have its own brand of humor and suburban satire. With George and Tessa, there are definitely some things happening, but I don’t know that we can say that will color the entire season three. Going into it, it should be interesting.