[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Hey there, campers. Cottage season starts this Friday when Prime Video’s ridiculously silly in the best possibly way summer series The Lake returns for Season 2. If you need a primer on what it’s all about, click this way. This summer, we pick up with the delightful mix of in-laws, outlaws, couples, estranged couples, and kids with a dash of a whodunnit.
As we begin, it’s a full year later in the timeline of the show, too, and Justin (Jordan Gavaris) and Riley (Travis Nelson), who are now bonafides, are excitedly about to welcome Billie (Madison Shamoun) back for a drive by visit before she heads to Washington, DC, for a climate change internship. Down the way, Maisy-May (Julia Stiles) and Victor (Terry Chen) have been descended upon by her legendary mother, Mimsy (new cast member Lauren Holly, who just goes for it). While they’re less than welcoming of their new roommate, it’s delightful news for Opal (Declan Whaley), who can certainly lay his own aesthetic at the hem of her caftan.
Wayne (Jon Dore) and Jayne (Natalie Lisinska) are on a break that makes for hilarious shenanigans as they literally carve out his and hers on everything but their girls, who are relegated to a timeshare situation. And once Billie does arrive, her focus is split when she meets a hottie who’s come to town to plant trees with a host of other teens and twentysomethings.
This week, I caught up with series showrunner (and Killjoys alumni) Julian Doucet about what to expect this season. Let’s take it character by character:
Maisy-May is immediately distrustful of her mother’s arrival, a suspicion that’s heightened when Mimsy drops a bomb during a family meal. In an effort to prove that she’s telling tall tales, Maisy-May unleashes her alter ego, Crazy May, which begets a hilarious scene of her cutting loose while Victor attempts to execute a military-grade evacuation of Opal before he’s scarred forever.
“Julia was such a revelation in Season 1, and we realized, ‘Oh we can do so much with her.’ She came with her career and her story and then suddenly being able to see how far she could go and how much she could do, we realized we definitely want to see Maisy go full frat. We never see her lose control. So there was a lot of discussion. What does that look like? And we knew it had to be aggressive because she’s always better than everyone at everything,” Doucet laughs.
“So we thought, ‘What is the perfect depiction of drunken frat boys?’ And we realized she is a frat boy. Like that hot mess. And she’s also terrifying because she knows everybody and there are probably secret arrest lists that were destroyed. She’s paid them off.”
“What was amazing is the first thing we shot of the Crazy May was Justin and Maisy and Mimsy coming home, and she’s singing, and Julia had been very nervous about it. And we did rehearsal and then [director] Paul [Fox] called cut and we all burst out laughing. And then Julia said, ‘Wow, I’ve never gotten a crew to laugh before.’ And then each take was funnier and funnier and funnier. She’s very good with zingers. She does the very smart undercut but to see her do a Dumb and Dumber was [a revelation].”
Mimsy’s definitely up to something, although we don’t exactly what that is. Doucet was thrilled to have Holly come play in his world. “Mimsy is kind of a love letter to my grandmothers, who are amazingly wonderful grandmothers but not the best mothers. I think the part just really really appealed to her. She doesn’t normally read but she did, which was really, really great. She was lovely,” he recalls.
“And we were able to sort of hear the voice. And then we saw her read with Julia, which really made sense as they had not only a family resemblance, but there was an immediate mom, but also big sister [energy], which is I feel a little bit of the push-pull place where Mimsy [lives]. She wants to be big sister [to Maisy] and Maisy wants mom.”
“Lauren has such a storied, comedic resume. My grandmothers were very British and so when I initially wrote Mimsy, she was from this school of stepmother, right from Fleabag. My grandmothers were British. But then hearing Lauren, we were able to find and write to that specificity and voice. So it was a little more daffy, a little bit more Carole Lombard. She brought so much to shape to the character, this fabulous grouping that’s awesome. There’s a little bit of Kate Hudson’s Penny Lane in her, too.”
“What we love is that you need somebody who categorically [is perceived] as the worst. But on the other hand, everyone [also thinks] she’s kind of the best. Everyone sort of loves Mimsy except Justin and Maisy-May, which brings them together. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Lauren Holly naturally just brings cool and fun, but she can also bring the diabolical quality that Mimsy needed.”
While Season 1 was all about Justin and Billie figuring out how to be with each other, Season 2 is about her exhibiting the best and worst of his personality when she suddenly changes her summer itinerary. “This is Billie’s first time going against her parents and self-defining her acts of rebellion. And we had a lot of talk in the room about, ‘What is unhinged Billy like? How will she rebel?’ Because she’s always followed the plan and she plans for others and plans for Justin and so, what would this be,” Doucet explains.
“And so we thought to give her a foil and a new love interest. And then show Justin’s side, the nature vs. nurture thing, which I think always runs through their dynamic. Billie has a lot of Justin’s rashness, there’s an impetuousness, a desire to follow your heart but also without the measured influence of her parents.”
“Suddenly she follows [that path] and it goes many different ways. It does catch up with her. What we really wanted to explore was a young person who was rebelling for the first time, learning to make her own decisions and learning the consequences of making them. If you do something for you, you’re not always going to please the ones that you love.”
Riley and Justin
The lovebirds hit a snag early in the season that flips their dynamic, too, and gives Travis Nelson the opportunity to really dig into who Riley is. “We literally remade Riley. We gave him a mustache and he dyed his hair. What was really interesting is Riley had pursued Justin pretty heavily in the first season, so [we thought] it’d be good to get Justin to pursue him in this season,” Doucet shares.
“And what I liked was the fact that Riley was complicit [in the turmoil]. He knew that Justin is a flighty. That’s kind of his attraction to him. What’s appealing about him is he goes for things, he follows his heart. He doesn’t always think things through, but Riley is a stay-at-home kind of dude. He stays at the lake he’s on, so he wants to kind of lock it down.”
“He sort of pushed, so part of his anger is self-directed because he rushed the situation and it was romantic and they did get caught in a moment. And Justin panicked in a very public way and wasn’t really sure what was happened. So with Riley, it was great to arc out that sort of righteousness. We wanted to get him to invest in his own arc and his own personality.”
“A lot of Riley last season was about, ‘I like Justin and I’m handsome and I can fix things.’ He was kind of a gay handyman romcom [character]. I always loved Riley when we got to dig into the real tinfoil hat part of him … who’s a little bit of a hoarder who does roadkill art. We really got to lean a little bit more into him and bring out some of those colors and also get Justin to decide this is a relationship that he wants.”
Wayne and Jayne
The fractious duo have formally split and while it seems to be sitting better with Jayne than Wayne, she, too, is tested by not having her rock to champion her, no matter how irritating he is. Doucet says we’re not even ready to see where they go this season. “I love them. You’re just not ready for what Joh do is gonna bring you. Nobody is ready,” he laughs.
“They’re going to win all the awards. They’re so, so funny. And ridiculously moving. Like weirdly, I think the sweet heart of this season is with them. Wayne really loved his life and wants to understand what was wrong with it and wants it back. But he understands that, to have his life, it meant that he had to give up stuff that he liked. And for her, the idea of loving someone like Wayne [now], she’s asking, ‘Does that make me less? Have I settled?’ Is she going through her own sort of midlife crisis? But then she self actualizes and does her own stuff and sees the growth that Wayne goes through.”
The mystery angle in Season 2 centers around the boathouse, and Doucet saud he wasn’t sure about doing it, but then it worked out perfectly. “It was a challenge at first. I kind of resisted it. Amazon was very keen on having a propulsive mystery engine throughout the season. And I [wondered], ‘Do people go to the cottage for a mystery? I can’t kill someone.’ But then we started to realize that it did give a shape that we liked,” he says.
“We knew that we had to get rid of the boathouse because we couldn’t shoot there [due to COVID restrictions]. So it really came out of that. And it felt fun to make it a central story element. Sometimes some of our notes [from the network] would be, ‘They’re not behaving like a cop would.'”
“And I said, ‘Because they’re not. They’re terrible.’ That’s the thing. It’s a mystery, but none of these people are cops. None of these people are detectives. They’ve maybe listened to some murder podcasts, but they’re making it up as they go along. And that was actually fun. As soon as I could lean into, ‘We’re going to do a mystery, but it’s a bad mystery, because nobody really knows what they’re doing, [it actually worked].”
The Lake premieres Season 2 this Friday everywhere on Prime Video, and Season 1 is streaming now and is a quick 8 x 30-minute watch if you want to catch up before the weekend. Here’s a sneak peek.
Photos courtesy of Peter H. Strank/Prime Video, and video courtesy of Prime Video.
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