I finished Netflix’s The Order in four days, which should tell you how much I enjoyed it since my aversion to the binge watch is well documented here. If you’re in the mood for a fun genre ride that’s alternately creepy and funny and heartfelt and wicked, by all means, check it out.
If you missed it, I spoke with showrunner Dennis Heaton about his creation last week in part one of our interview. I’ll have part two later this week. Today I talked to co-executive producer and writer Rachel Langer about working on the show, criss-crossing genres by focusing on characters, and a fundraiser she’s started for a cause that hits close to home.
Langer has worked on a handful of TV Goodness shows, including Continuum and Ghost Wars, where she stepped into producing for the first time. She began her writing career following film school in Vancouver, after originally thinking she’d have a career as a jazz pianist. “My dad is an accomplished bass guitar player and I auditioned for jazz school, got in, and found out I was terrible at performing because I have a very large dose of stage fright,” she laughs.
“[Before we were married] my husband [Derek Langer] wanted to go to film school. [We moved to Vancouver], and I thought film school was super cool and I decided to do that, too. I followed his lead and took a bunch of writing and producing courses and worked my way into getting to know people as best I could. I got onto Continuum as a writer’s assistant and then got into the Canadian Film Centre.”
“I always loved television. I was the kid who was always flipping channels so my parents couldn’t see what I was watching. It was kind of ingrained. There was a TV writing course in the film program I was in and I really responded to the longform character of it all. I’m definitely a more character-focused writer Not so great with the plot, but really good with the emotional.”
“It spoke to me because you get to spend longer with them. It’s sort of the renegade of writing. You have to learn on the fly, which is my style. It works for me. It’s a ton of work to break into it. Once I decided it was I wanted, I relentlessly forced people to hang out with me.”
Langer worked with Heaton on Ghost Wars, and when he told her he was getting ready to go on The Order, she leapt at it sight unseen and then was so glad she did. “The great thing about Dennis is, if he says the words, ‘I have a show,’ I say the words, ‘I’m in,’ because he’s so great. All he had to do was say, ‘I have this thing called The Order and I think it’s going to go,” she recalls.
“When he did send the creative, I thought it was the next best thing to having started my career early enough to write on Buffy. When I heard. ‘warring secret societies,’ I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be so great. I’m very proud of the show because it’s so much fun.”
Wearing an executive producer hat on the series meant Langer was in the writers room and on set and she loved the experience. “I oversaw the 3/4, 5/6, and 7/8 blocks in part on set. It was a straight shot for me and trading off with Shelley [Erikson] and Dennis as they were available,” she says.
“This was the first time I spent any significant time on set. [The “dive in and do it” process on Ghost Wars] was a great learning experience and now I feel I’m equipped to do whatever. I did three blocks in a row on The Order, sometimes with Shelley and Dennis on set and sometimes by myself and it was fantastic and I had a great time. I felt prepared, which was awesome.”
She’s most proud of a scene in episode three that’s a nod to her own endometriosis. “Selfishly, my favorite scene of the show is when I make Adam DiMarco, who plays Randall, and Thomas Elms, who plays Hamish, talk about lady parts while Devery Jacobs, who plays Lilith, gets to drive to the point and be boss. This never happens. That might be my peak,” she laughs.
Langer wrote episodes three and eight and oversaw production on those two and all the ones in between. “Mine is of a piece with episode four with Jennica Harper, who’s amazing. It was really cool to work together to make those [episodes] shake hands,” she explains.
Langer credits Heaton with the show finding its unique voice. “Dennis is so great. He’ll let us go down a rabbit hole [of ‘if we could do this…, then…’] because it’s fun. The great thing about doing that is you can find the essence of what you want to do and pull it back to something that fits,” she says.
“The tone is set three ways. It’s set in the writers room, it’s set in production and it’s set again in post. Having the consistent voice of Dennis through the whole thing is sort of the reason it works, but he also allows people to bring their magic to it at each stage, at each level. Not everybody does that and Dennis does that really well.”
Langer considers herself fortunate to have worked across multiple genres. In the last two years, she’s written supernatural for Ghost Wars and The Order and 1950s crime procedural for Bletchley Circle: San Francisco (available on BritBox in the US). “I feel very lucky. Not everybody gets the chance to work in different genres. As a character writer, I can bring that level to every genre, but there’s a learning curve with every one,” she shares.
“With Bletchley being a procedural/mystery, it was totally different from anything I had done before. I really had to study up on, ‘What are the turns of a mystery and what are you looking for, and how do you parse the clues?’ I feel like I get something out of every different genre. For me it all hinges on the characters and whether we’re allowed to create fully-realized humans or not.”
Langer, like Heaton, is hopeful for a second season of The Order, but in the interim, she’s already at work on an upcoming medical drama called Transplant, where she’s again producing and writing. And she’s taken the time this month, which is Endometriosis Awareness Month, to launch a giveaway for a TENS unit-type device designed specifically for women.
Langer has documented her history with endometriosis online, and she says the decision to go public was a bit of a no-brainer. “I kind of hit a point where I had worked enough that I took a gamble that most of the people I work with who know about it have been really supportive. I think I am at point where it wouldn’t make me [unhirable], especially in a long-hour industry like TV,” she points out.
“It’s affecting my life so much that not talking about it feels terrible, and talking about it also feels terrible. [It’s hard to make people understand the boundaries]. “I’ll be standing with a group of people at an industry event and someone will approach me and ask [about it] and it’s in front of a bunch of dudes who don’t know me very well.”
“I’m not sorry I got vocal. I can’t walk it back now, so I might as well lean on in. People are very warm and supportive but there are times where I need to keep that partition active [to be able to work].”
“I use a product called Livia. It’s a small portable unit that looks a like a cute clip-on piece . So, if somebody saw it clipped to your pocket, they wouldn’t know what it is. It’s designed specifically for period pain and pelvic pain. The frequencies that they use are researched and designed for that. It’s by no means a perfect solution, but it can provide a welcome distraction and de-escalate your brain during a flareup by giving you a different sensation to focus on.”
“It’s useful to have on days where you need a little help. You’ve just got to try everything. Anything that provides any measure of relief is worthwhile in my book. I was planning to give mine away after my hysterectomy, hoping they’d gotten enough to give me a measure of relief and that was not meant to be, so I have to keep mine.”
“I was feeling kind of shitty about that, so I thought I should do something to make it better, so I’d buy one for someone and raffle it off. And now we have  that have been donated and Livia said they’ll donate one for every ten that we buy, and that’s happened in two days. I’ve heard from lots of women who want to try to it and can’t afford it.” The giveaway will run through March 31st, when Langer will randomly draw names. You can contact through her open DMs on Twitter here if you want to be entered in the raffle, and you can donate here.
The Order is available now, worldwide, on Netflix.
Photos courtesy of Netflix, BritBox, and Rachel and Derek Langer.
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