ET: It’s really great to see a show embracing women in the workplace while trying to balance their personal lives, and not talking down to them. They don’t apologize for what they go through or how they resolve certain conflicts and obstacles. Was that a directive that you wanted to maintain throughout the season?
Sarah Watson: You definitely hit it on the head when you said they feel like real people. I really emulated them from my friends and my bosses. I’ve had such positive female friendships and female bosses, and that’s not what you normally see on TV. There’s sort of this lazy inclination that it’s like, oh, you need to create drama on a show about friends, so let’s have them all turn on each other. And I just think that it’s just so much more real and so much more true to life that when you have a challenge, you turn to your friends, you don’t turn on your friends. It was very intentional.
The reveal of Jacqueline as a rape survivor was really touching and something I didn’t expect. Why was it important to add that layer to that character?
It’s something we started talking about in the writers’ room in the first couple of weeks when we were still talking generally about the characters and getting to know the characters. We started with the three girls -- with Kat, Sutton and Jane -- talking about who are they and what are their experiences that have shaped them. Them being 25, we get the chance to see a lot of them go through a lot of the experiences that will shape them. So then when we got to Jacqueline, we started to talk about, like, “OK, well gosh, 20 years ago, she was basically Jane.” She was a puff reporter at a magazine and what did that look like? What were those experiences that she had that made her into who she is now? We started talking a lot about what a different landscape it was, and especially what a different landscape it was 20 years ago.
I don’t know how the conversation of sexual assault came up, but we started talking about [how] there’s so many stories from, not as often today, thank god, but especially from 20 years ago, if a woman came forward with a sexual assault in her workplace, she was the one who got damaged for it. We started to talk about that for Jacqueline. Would that be an interesting layer to her character? It was very intentional all season that we get to know the girls really well, but there’s always a little bit of an air of mystery to Jacqueline. Part of it is she’s the boss and she wants to be perceived a certain way, but she is a little bit guarded of a character. Once we came up with that sexual assault backstory, I got Melora Hardin -- who plays Jacqueline -- in and said, “This is a piece of your character,” and she was excited to play that and to really show that journey. It just seemed like an interesting story to tell, to add that layer to Jacqueline.