When Dollface premiered in 2019, audiences were treated to Jules Wiley learning how to be a good friend again after being dumped by her longtime boyfriend. Once again joined by BFFs Madison (Brenda Son), Stella (Shay Mitchell) and Izzy (Esther Povitsky), Season 2 returns on Feb. 11 to see how the quartet of Angeleno friends are dealing with life since the pandemic. As they take on turning 30, show creator Jordan Weiss opened up about the new season, the importance of finding yourself and the possibility of one day opening a reality TV Bar.
Before we dive into the new season, let’s talk about Cat Lady. How did she contribute to the inception of Dollface?
The idea for the pilot and the idea of the Cat Lady kind of went hand in hand where I had wanted to find a way to write about my own experience having a hard time with female friendship. I had a comedy professor at USC; I studied screenwriting there. They said to me in a class once that has always stuck with me: “If you have a character who's afraid of the dark, write them into a blackout.” The idea of a character that was sort of inspired by my own experiences, especially in college and in my early 20s, who felt really intimidated by other women and felt like she struggled with female friendships and maintaining friendships— what was the situation I could put her in that would be maximum uncomfortable for her? What would be forcing her to dive in headfirst to that exact experience? And the Cat Lady was just a very early image I had that felt like a creative way to make her the most uncomfortable and setting that character on that friendship journey.
Why do you think it's better representative of what’s going on in Jules’ brain than to do something less abstract and illustrative?
The Cat Lady, to me, feels like the voice in my head when I'm working out an issue with myself. I say like she's your subconscious, your sneaking suspicion, you devil's advocate, you neurotic fairy godmother. And so I think creating a character that is out of Jules’ innermost thoughts helps you know Jules better as a character and feel more connected to her and helps her feel more relatable. We have such rich inner lives, especially with people who are more anxious and have so much going on in their head, that you would be really missing out on the experience of not being along for the ride. I do think that part of the fun of the show is getting to be inside of her head. And then the way that we've expanded it from Season One to Season Two is that now Jules’ friends are sort of pulled into these magical realism moments and I think that is meant to reflect that when you get really close with your friends, they are well-versed with your neuroses.
You have a new showrunner this season. How has Dollface benefited from having Michelle Nader steer the ship?
Michelle Nader is incredible. My favorite way to describe her is Anna Wintour meets Tony Soprano. She's everything I could have wanted in a mentor. I feel like she has taught me so much and taught me in a way while also raising me up in being a true partner with her. From our first conversation, she had an idea for a scene that could be in the finale of Season Two, like a place where we could take Jules’ character, and that immediately sparked an idea in me of where we should start the season. Our first conversation we had like the first scene and the last scene figured out, and I was like, “Okay, this is a good partnership already.”
There's a funny scene in the fourth episode where the characters are in a sex store and they're sharing a candy bra. And Michelle and I joke about how our future production company will be called “Candy Bra” because of that scene. I have a funny doodle on my desk that I'm staring at, and I drew the two of us holding a candy bra that I gave Michelle as a gift when we wrapped.
We see a sort of time-lapsed version of Jules and her friends’ experience with the early stages of the pandemic. Eventually things pick back up, but the show does acknowledge that sense of loss young people have felt about missing out on big life experiences. Why did you decide to tackle it in this way?
It was honestly one of the toughest things to figure out when re-approaching the season once we knew we were going to have this big delay because of COVID in real life. And I think that because we have these heightened, magical realism, very fantastical moments in our show, it's that much more important for our series specifically that the grounded, real-world moments of the show feel as real and relatable as possible.
In Season One, they were closer to their mid-20s, and then all of a sudden they're like 29, turning 30. I've gone through that same experience. I've grown up alongside these characters. I've gotten through my 20s with this fictional friend group in my head and I’m the same age as them, so sometimes I get lost in the loop of art imitating life. Something happens to me or one of my friends so it ends up in the show.
It feels like the premise of the new season is really set up when Jules, Madison, Stella and Izzy go to the 30 Under 30 party.
I think the logical next step for us felt like shifting her focus to herself and finding what she really wants to do with her life and finding the thing that she's passionate to actually go after. It’s a big part of that relationship with herself. But I think that Jules is a character who has had the mantra, “You can't lose if you don't play.” She protects herself by not trying too hard or not really going for something, whereas you have Madison’s character who's the complete opposite of that and who tries to protect herself by being in absolute control of everything that happens to her. We felt that it was an interesting way for these women to develop as friends and also to develop these relationships with themselves by having what they both need to learn from one another. Jules has to take the cue from Madison to take a little bit more of the reins of her own life, pick a path and follow it. And Madison has to let go a little bit and be okay with deviating from her path.
Our guiding theme that we used to figure out this season that really acted as our North Star was this question: How do these women grow up without growing apart?
We felt like that was a good way to frame the season around friendship where, yes, Jules has won her girlfriends back and now they're together, but how do we watch them evolve as individuals while still staying connected as a friend group? I do think that is a very relatable challenge of keeping close with your friends as your lives move forward.
What else are you looking forward to from the new season?
Stella and Izzy, who are two characters that we didn't get to dive into their love lives as much in the first season, are the two characters you're seeing navigate relationships in the second season. And they don't have necessarily the same problem as Jules in terms of losing themselves in relationships, but they have their own, like Stella working out for commitment issues and Izzy working out her insecurity issues both through the lens of their romantic relationships.
I wanted to find a way to honor that evolution of Stella wanting to become more serious and be taken seriously and push herself and get into business school and do that while still watching her try to stay true to who she is, which is a really fun-loving character who does like to party, who does love being social and light-hearted and fun. I think for Stella, it's really about finding that kind of intersection of what she loves and what she's good at. I think her journey in Season Two with opening the bar is really cool because it does feel like a very on-brand way that her character would go about being an entrepreneur— that maybe business school led her to find this, but it’s more the right place for her to be than like in a classroom.
I feel like I've heard people toss around that idea of a dive bar dedicated to reality TV. It’s exciting to see it come to life in a TV show.
I have been talking about this for years. I was so angry when I couldn't afford cable and, I will admit, I'm a big reality TV fan. I love The Bachelor. And I was like, “We should be able to watch The Bachelor for free.” I should be able to go to a bar and buy a drink and watch this show and not pay for cable. And the fact that that’s not in the cards for me feels like a patriarchy move. This feels sexist that my guy friends are watching expensive Direct TV and NFL packages at a bar for free, but no bar will turn on The Bachelor on for me.
Maybe it'll inspire a real-life entrepreneur looking to open a bar.
I think we should make the G Spot a branded spin off, like this is going to be our Margaritaville. This is actually my future when the show ends is to run this bar if we're lucky.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Photography by: Austin Hargrave; Jessica Brooks/Hulu