SUBURGATORY: Emily Kapnek on Directing the Season Finale, George’s Struggles, the Tessa-Dalia Fight, and More

April 17, 2013 by  

SUBURGATORY is one of the few shows that can easily (and naturally) shift from absolutely wacky to crushing heartbreak, so it’s only appropriate that tonight’s special one-hour season finale brings a little bit of all of those emotions into play.

To get some scoop about what’s going down, I spoke with SUBURGATORY creator Emily Kapnek about George’s struggles, the Tessa-Dalia feud, shifting time slots, and more…

SUBURGATORY has shifted around the schedule a bit this season. Did the move back to 8:30 (from its 9:30, post-MODERN FAMILY slot) impact the stories of the final batch of episodes?
Emily Kapnek: We didn’t change anything. We knew we were moving back to 8:30 probably after we had broken most of our stories for the season, and I don’t think shifting our storytelling based on the time slot would have made sense, especially given the amount of movement we’ve seen. I think you just have to stay the course and tell your stories and do your show. And hopefully you land in the right spot that your audience is able to find you and you’re able to find them.

I know I heard from fans who had missed the show at 8:30, but did you have a preference for where the show should be? Or is this a situation where you just want it on TV and it doesn’t quite matter where it lands?
EK: I mean, yeah, we’re just happy to be on the schedule. I think the show was doing a little bit better in the 8:30 slot before we moved. But I think this is very common; we’ve watched this happen with a bunch of shows. Once you start sliding it around and scheduling issues for whatever reason…examining all the reasons networks make these moves with reruns and why they do that, it’s like, there’s been a lot of change at ABC in general and they have to protect their inventory. Obviously, it hasn’t been ideal for our show, but we appreciate the support from them. We’ve gotten — it hasn’t been this huge, huge push, but they’ve certainly tried to let people know where we are, and they’ve always been very supportive with the content.

I wish things would have been smoother, and I wish we would have stayed — if I had a preference, I wish we could have just stayed put in one spot or the other. But any spot on the schedule, I’m grateful for.

That’s completely fair. What can you tease about the final two episodes of the year?
EK: Well, I think there’s a lot happening in Chatswin. There’s a lot of change. For as profound as the finale was for Tessa in season 1, I think it’s equally so for George in season 2. He’s worked really hard to try to please all the different ladies in his life and keep his kid happy and keep his girlfriend happy, and part of it is starting to crumble. No matter how hard you try, sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them to. And George’s just dealing with the aftermath of that, and it’ll hopefully be an emotional walk for him trying to navigate that.

And as previewed by the teaser tag in last week’s episode, Tessa and Dalia are going all out in their war. What made the timing right for them to explode like this now?
EK: I think it’s a long time coming. And this has been so overdue, there’s been so much push and pull with the two of them. And I think Dalia has just gone too far with what she perceives is this threat of Tessa having this intimate information about her, and coming out swinging the way she does with Tessa’s relationship with Ryan, Tessa really felt like she had to stand up for herself.

Now the fact with how it manifests and the size of the fight they have, it’s kind of nuts. But at the same time, it’s two teenage girls, and there’s all this pent up animosity, and we just tried to think of the most epic, satisfying, blow-out the two of them could have…You can take the girl out of New York…

Exactly. And you also directed the final episode of the season, so how do you feel that experience went?
EK: It was so much fun. It was a great way to end the season, and it was such an emotional episode, so it was so wonderful to be able to be with the actors and help; for us to work through those big storylines together. They were all so lovely, and I think I was more in awe of them than I ever was. Just [in awe of] their talent and really such a skilled group of actors.

Jeremy [Sisto (George)] obviously comes from drama, but I just had so much empathy for him. And sitting in editing after we shot, watching what we got and seeing Cheryl [Hines (Dallas)] and how much she brought to the surface there in that scene between the two of them. Even Jane [Levy (Tessa)] and Ana [Gasteyer (Sheila), I was thrilled. Just really in awe of the cast and really enjoyed it.

Were there any unexpected challenges since this was your first time directing?
EK: For me being a first time director, it’s like trying to order off the menu in a country where you don’t speak the language. Our [director of photography] was trying to usher me through it, so I’d explain what I wanted to do, and he’d start naming the different lens, and I’d be like, I don’t know any of those, so let me explain what I’m looking for and we’ll work through this. So there was a lot of hand-holding in terms of execution. But that wasn’t so much of a challenge as it was a great way of collaborating with our fantastic crew.

I think maybe stamina might be the biggest challenge, because it came at the end of the season. It was like running a marathon after running a marathon, so I was definitely a little exhausted. But it was very well worth it.

Would you want to direct again in season 3?
EK: Maybe. I think it’s really about the timing. It’s really about the timing. Obviously my first priority is up in the writers’ room, making sure our stories are moving along and everyone’s got the support we need up here. And I also do writing, I don’t just rewrite episodes. So it is a lot going on. The timing of doing the finale was perfect because everything else is done; just a little bit of editing to do after shooting. So I think it would have to be scheduled right, but I’d definitely like to do it again, for sure.

Good to hear! Was there something specifically you’d point to as the high point of the season?
EK: We had so much fun this season — there was so much singing and dancing! It was very musical. I loved watching Dalia’s music video, I loved watching the dad band. I loved the kiss, our NOTEBOOK parody. I loved our Thanksgiving. I think it’s a good divide between the really fun, playful, campy stuff and the great moments with all the heart. George sitting on the staircase and listening to Alex and Tessa laugh in her bedroom. And again that terrible divide of on one hand, having his kid have the moment she wants and on the other hand, how threatened you feel by it. I love the duality of our show. It was a really fun season.

It has been. But I have to ask, given all the musical numbers, when are we getting a soundtrack for this show?!
EK: I don’t know, I’ve been asking! I’ve been saying from the beginning…believe me, it’s very much on my radar. One of the most common things people tweet to me is like, “When are you going to release a full-length version” [of the songs]? So I don’t know!

SUBURGATORY’s special one-hour finale airs Wednesday, April 17th at 8 PM. And be sure to check back here after the episode for more from Kapnek!

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