In the sophomore season of Facebook Watch's critically acclaimed half-hour drama, Olsen returns as Leigh Shaw, a young widow struggling to put her life back together following her husband, Matt's (Mamoudou Athie), unexpected death. The next 13-episode adventure continues Leigh's complicated journey as she navigates the aftershocks of loss and tries to move on amid revelations of the timeline of her husband's passing.
If season one of Sorry for Your Loss was about Leigh in the infancy stages of losing her husband, the next chapter in her life equates to the adolescent phase in Leigh's recovery journey, creator Kit Steinkellner says. And she won't be the only one dealing with the difficulties and challenges of moving on: sister Jules (Kelly Marie Tran), mother Amy (Janet McTeer) and Matt's brother, Danny (Jovan Adepo), begin to make bold decisions -- many of them eyebrow-raising -- as they attempt to go on without Matt.
"In the span between season one and the season two pickup, I had so many ideas. I knew exactly where I wanted the characters to go, what I wanted a few wrestling with over the course of the second season," Steinkellner says. "It gave me the opportunity of being able to really put that in motion." With the first three episodes of season two now available to stream, ET spoke with Steinkellner about the characters' desperate attempts to break free and their season two journeys.
ET: How did you land on the story for season two?
Kit Steinkellner: I wrote the pilot and people asked me, "Are you sure it's not a movie?" And I said, "I am positive it's not a movie because movies are about solvable problems. This is an unsolvable problem." She will never get over this loss. She will get through it, she will rebuild her life, but she is never going to be OK. That is what television is -- characters constantly wrestling with that big unsolvable problem. Truly for every character -- for Danny, for Amy, for Jules -- no one's ever going to be OK after the loss of Matt, but they are moving through it. Season two really is about these characters, who have been knocked off their axis and out of orbit, re-orientating themselves and thinking about who they are going to be going forward. It is a complicated process, one that stops and starts, steps forwards and steps backwards. For some characters, they really take big swings, make big moves and take charge for the future of their lives. It doesn't always look natural, healthy or functional, but what these people need to do in this moment is to be alive and to find meaning in their life.
If season one was about the immediate aftermath of Matt's death and Leigh's struggles with that, what is your take on her journey in season two?
Leigh's journey in season two is the journey of every character in the present timeline, which is rebuilding their lives and moving forward. One of our editors, Darrin Navarro, said after cutting 2x01, season one felt like the show's infancy and this season feels like the show's adolescence and I really cosign that statement. If you think about what a baby is, it's so new to the world and still learning to crawl and walk and speak and eat food. And that really was what Leigh's journey was in season one. They are learning how to be in this new world. And season two is about that baby in adolescence, where you're figuring out who you're going to be, what your place is going to be in the world. It's messy and a lot of mistakes are made.
When I pitched the show on Facebook, I talked about season one being about Leigh crash-landing on this new planet and her goal was to extricate herself from the wreckage and make sure her oxygen tank was working and crawl that crater 20 feet away. Season two is about rebuilding that spaceship and seeing if she can get off this planet. It has that feeling of speed and momentum.
What were Elizabeth Olsen's wishes for season two? Since she's an executive producer, what was a desire of hers that you implemented into Leigh's journey?
She was very instrumental in the direction of this season, and in the conversations during last season, she told me when we were taping the finale that she started to really feel like Leigh was coming back a different person from Palm Springs: "I really want to see her moving forward. I want to see that growth and that change and that movement." Going into season two, we both independently felt the need for propulsion -- for big moves and for big swings. When we had a catch-up lunch before season two, it was kind of amazing that we'd been doing our own things in between seasons, but coming back to realize that we really considered the same thing, which is that this season has got to move. We each have a half of this character in us because -- I don't know if you remember the best friend necklaces with the broken hearts. That's what Leigh's done. We each have a core half of her and we were both feeling the same things with this character. Really, for her survival, she needs to move forward.
You hinted at bold moves for the characters this season. Can you tease how these changes affect the core dynamics?
The core trio of the Shaw women, Leigh, Amy and Jules -- and I also would include Danny in this -- they all feel trapped. Stuck. They're looking to break out of their pain and what's not working for them. We come in[to the season] and people are making questionable decisions and in the first episode, big life moves that make it look a little unstable or not entirely thought out or rational. Maybe even toxic. But that is what it is to be a human -- to feel cornered and backed into a corner. Some people do become caged animals and they need to make big moves to break out of that corner. They don't know exactly what direction to move in but they know that movement is essential, so maybe they are going in the wrong direction. But it's this bit of shark-in-the-water kind of thing. If they don't move, they will die. So, going in the wrong direction or going in a direction and finding out it is the wrong direction, is preferable to not moving at all, stagnating and crashing in on yourself.
Speaking of bold moves, Amy makes the decision to leave town following a disastrous Christmas dinner, where her secret affair with her ex-husband comes out in dramatic fashion. What are you looking to explore with regard to the consequences of her questionable decisions? I was left thinking, "I'm not sure how they're going to rectify this..."
That's the hope. What I will say is that in season one we had Amy, who was really trying to hold it together for her daughter, make some weird life choices [in season two]. Hooking up with someone your adult daughter went to high school with, in your garage -- it's a weird choice! And then hooking up with your ex-husband who has remarried, has a kid... also a weird choice! I think Amy is instinctually, to my earlier point, trying to break free of this thing she doesn't know what she's trying to break free of. And trying to reclaim the person she used to be, the feelings she used to have, -- the certainty, rationality and clarity and purpose. And she's making a lot of weird moves to get there.
Going into episode three, I would compare it to she didn't even realize her foot was broken. She had been hobbling and didn't even realize her foot was broken because she's been so numb to pain and now the pain is kicking her. In episode three, she realizes, “I have to get surgery. I cannot walk on a broken foot.” It happens a lot to people. They have not looked into the source of their pain and they're lashing out in ways that it doesn’t quite make sense to themselves or to the outside world because they have not gotten to the core of their soul and figured out what is rotting and how to heal it. That's certainly the goal with Amy. What I'll also say is we don't have Amy for a while this season.
Can you elaborate?
We are a half-hour drama, which is great because we can tell tight stories and for me, a really precise short story way of not wasting time or space, we have a lot of characters we really care about and, in order to give them their due, we end up playing musical chairs, especially in this season. We really did structure a couple episodes to really, really have the spotlight on them at center stage and then we switch things around and we focus on new relationship dynamics with new characters. That's baked into the real estate the characters have this season of wanting to make sure that when they’re onscreen, their time really, really counts.
We're also seeing these characters grapple with gradually losing their connection to Matt -- Leigh especially -- as time passes. Can you preview how they deal with that?
It's one of the impossible problems of our series, right? The only way to survive is to move forward, but moving forward is getting further and further away from this person who was your world or who was, if you're an Amy or a Jules, who you have loved so dearly. I would argue that for Leigh and Danny, Matt was their primary person. In that regard, Leigh is going to be struggling with her connection with Matt all season and in the second episode of season two, the way she ends up connecting is surprising. I would argue, it only gets more surprising over the course of the season how she connects and doesn't connect with Matt.
One of my favorite, favorite scenes last season was in the episode when Matt and Danny flashback together in the bar. I loved the two of them together so much and it really inspired this season. We really are seeing Matt largely from Danny's POV this season. It's a very different feel. He has a very different healing process, very different feelings involved. In a season where we are shaking things up and turning the tables, it really makes sense to see Matt, who is a core of our show and is a huge hole in our universe, from Danny's perspective.