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Vivian Lin Talks Prime Video’s The Lake 

Vivian Lin Talks Prime Video’s The Lake

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

If you’re looking for a snarky fun binge watch for what ails you, set your reminder for Prime Video’s The Lake, which drops its whole first season this Friday. In case you missed it, I preview and chat with series creator and Killjoys alumni Julian Doucet here. Part of what makes the show such a treat and a treasure is that it springs from the Killjoys writer’s room, and alongside Doucet, also includes Vivian Lin and Andrew De Angelis. 

Last week, I caught up with Lin to chat about The Lake, as well as the upcoming SkyMed, which drops its entire season on Paramount+ July 10th (and starts its first-season run the same day on CBC in Canada).

Vivian Lin

Killjoys fans will recognize The Lake’s  familiar tone. “I only want to write with the Killjoys writers forever. [After Killjoys], everyone got their shows and spread out [and we each] tried to reassemble the team,” Lin laughs.

“[The show] is Julian’s voice. He’s super inclusive. He’s super supportive. It’s kind of the legacy of Killjoys, as well, that [the show] is for everyone. And he really set out to make sure that everyone was included, that we could play, and that it was just a positive experience for everyone.”

“It’s funny how these things evolve. I remember on Killjoys [we talked] about representation of Asian males. They’re never seen as sexy or sporty, they’re never all that. And Julian made my dreams come true with [Terry Chen and Jared Scott, who play father and son Victor and Killian] and just the shot of those two coming out of the water.”

The Lake

There’s also a wickedly funny episode with Jerry O’Connell that involves a threesome that tests the tentative new vibe going on between Justin and Riley (Jordan Gavaris and Travis Nelson), and that’s all I’m telling you. Lin says it was as fun to work on as it is to watch (TRUST ME). 

“Every writer’s room has our naughty jokes and we would push each other all the time and pitch stuff to crack each other up. And I felt like this was a show where we could just put it [all] on screen and it was such a pure joy to do that. Julian has a fun sense of humor, same with Andrew,” she explains.

“I mention them because we have a long history together, and all of the writers had the same vibe and the same sense of play. Everyone was on board and we would just try and outdo each other as much as possible.”

“The Jerry O’Connell character [of Gil]  was the funnest to write for. And it was a matter of pitching what we could get away with and pushing those boundaries as far as possible. I feel like we were trying to do a threesome as though that wasn’t enough, but in a really subversive way, as well.”

“And Julian asked, ‘How do you do a threesome as a love story?’ All of that was super fun. And I remember being in that episode and Gil is tough to pull off. [If you go] one way, [he’s] a little too sleazy and there’s so many things that can go wrong.”

The Lake

“So [we wondered], ‘Who is the most perfect human being that you could imagine who could possibly execute this?’ And of course it was Jerry O’Connell. [Production company] AMAZE and I had worked with him on Carter. As soon as we realized it could be Jerry, [we knew] he had enough charm to pull it off in just the exact way [and then we knew] we could really push the boundaries with him.”

“What we wanted to make sure at the time, too, with Justin and Riley was just that it was [an] open [relationship] and it didn’t have to be the normal parameters. Like the threesome was never going to be a problem. You never wanted that to be a thing. It was just the context.”

“And so part of what we were trying to say is, ‘What’s the wedge for them?’ Under the right circumstances, they’re fine with it. There’s nothing wrong with it as long as [everybody’s clear on the intent].”

Lin also enjoyed writing across the ensemble. “There was a little bit of real fun with [three of the four teenage quadruplets] Jeri, Teri, and Keri [played by Emily Roman, Brielle Robillard, and Kaitlyn Bernard, who have a fourth, more cerebral sister named Olive, played by Julia Lalonde]. They were a really fun Greek chorus to write for,” she shares.

“We loved [lake elder] Ulrika [played by Carolyn Scott], and Justin [has] a manic and melodious energy to his voice that is so Julian. There is a charm about Justin that he can get away with just about anything all the time. I loved writing for Justin and loved the chemistry between him and [daughter] Billie [played by Madison Shamoun] all the time.”

The Lake

Victor’s younger son, Opal, played by Declan Whaley, must be experienced to be appreciated, but he’s unlikely any other ten-year-old you’ve seen. “Opal is just absolutely a favorite. He was just delightful because he had such a mastery of who he was and just an innate sense of self in a way that was a perfect contrast to Justin, who was none of those things,” explains Lin.

“We always talked about Justin and Opal being emotional rivals in a sense, because Opal is so young, but also an old spirit and so self-aware and self-sexualized and Justin is just so not any of the things.”

SkyMed, launching next month, is the brainchild of another Killjoys alumni, Julie Puckrin, and Lin jumped into that as she finished her work on The Lake. Set in Winnipeg, the series follows a group of pilots and nurses who run emergency air evacuations out of rural areas.

It includes a diverse cast with people from some of the shows we’ve covered here–Natasha Calis from Ties That Bind, and more recently, Nurses, Thomas Elms from The Order, Slasher’s Mercedes Morris, and Jaqobis the younger, Aaron Ashmore, as well as new to us Morgan Holmstrom (Siberia), Ace (Aason) Nadjiwon (Batwoman), Praneet Akilla (Nancy Drew), Kheon Clarke (Riverdale), and Rebecca Kwan (Taken).

“It is also a show that was super inclusive. Julie really sought to be authentic and to really get to the heart of every character and represent them as authentically as possible. And it’s really satisfying to see a diverse cast and to talk about cultural specificity in the [writer’s] room,” Lin says.

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A post shared by SkyMed on Paramount+, CBC and Gem (@skymedtvseries)

“We really tried to do our research and to feel culture where we can. It’s nice to feel the diversity as opposed to just having diverse characters who have their identities a little bit stripped. In the writing, we said, ‘Let’s filter some of that in, see who these people are, and represent these cultures in a wholesome way as they would authentically come out through these characters.’ The show is really successful for that. It’s a romance and there’s a sexiness, but there was an effort to [elevate the conversation].”

Next up for Lin is Popularity Papers, a live-action half-hour series for Canada’s YTV that she is showrunning and co-created, based on the young adult book series of the same name. “They go into middle school with the scientific experiment [of becoming] popular. And every week they try a new experiment to try and gain popularity and it never works out for them,” she explains. “It’s a wonderful and delightful show.”

The Lake premieres Friday around the world on Prime Video. SkyMed premieres July 10th on Paramount+ in the US and CBC and CBC Gem in Canada. In case you missed it, part one of my chat with The Lake’s Julian Doucet is here.

Photos courtesy of Prime Video and Paramount+.

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