'Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television' Is Back and More Meta Than Ever (Exclusive)
By Meredith B. Kile
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Season one of Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television was a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek take on police procedurals, viral fame and celebrity culture, and now, season two is back and more meta than ever!
The YouTube Premium series, which creator and executive producer Rawson Marshall Thurber describes as "a half-hour meta procedural comedy with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek," launched its second season on the streaming service on Wednesday, where fans can continue to follow the adventures of Veronica Mars and Party Down star Ryan Hansen, who plays "a heightened version of himself" as a self-absorbed actor deputized alongside homicide detectives in the LAPD.
But even that description doesn't quite do justice to the show's layers of smart, self-referential comedy. RHSCOT takes hilariously specific aim at Hollywood in general and the business of making television, right down to Ryan returning every night to his TV "family," who live on a multi-cam soundstage with a live audience there to hit the laugh track.
"It is so lame to say, but it is a dream come true, for sure," Hansen says of filming the show. "I get to do everything, you know, it's funny, and it's action, and it's some serious stuff, and then yeah, the multi-cam with the procedural element. It's so fun with the live audience. Yeah, it's the coolest experience for sure."
As for the show's constant -- and sometimes sharply specific -- jokes about being relegated to a paid premium streaming service on a website that most people only use for free videos, Thurber said they've had no pushback from the powers that be.
"Susanne Daniels, who runs YouTube Premium, those are her favorite jokes," he assures. "So, she's tickled by them and when the boss lady gives it a thumbs up, then you don't really have to worry from anybody else. I think it just shows that YouTube's cool. There is nothing cooler than being able to laugh at yourself or be OK with getting jokes made at your expense. So yeah, those are my favorite jokes and they never once pushed back."
Season two of RHSCOT kicks off with a bit of a casting shake-up, when Ryan's partner from the first season, Jessica Mathers (Samira Wiley), lands herself in a "contractually-obligated coma," due to Wiley's filming obligations on The Handmaid's Tale (which are frequently referenced as a running joke throughout the season). Stepping into her shoes is a cop show legend in Wood Harris, best known for his roles on The Wire and in Remember the Titans -- keep your eyes peeled for a T.C. Williams reunion when Ryan and his new partner, Vince Vincente, team up to interrogate Donald Faison.
"Wood's a badass, and he really brings such a cool [energy]... He's, like, a real actor, you know?" Hansen says with a laugh. "This intensity and this kind of drama background, it really makes it feel like a real procedural cop show... and then there is me."
"I'm a huge fan of The Wire and Avon Barksdale was just, you know, on the Mount Rushmore of crime show villains," Thurber adds. "And then he's just the nicest guy and he's such a cool cat and he wanted to do something funny. We needed somebody to play a straight man opposite Ryan's sort of Bugs Bunny antics and, you know, you don't get straighter than a cold stare from Wood Harris."
Also joining the cast in season two is Playing House star Jessica St. Clair, womping it up as Ryan and Vince's new boss, Captain Lade'e -- with the "lady captain" trope taking over for season one's revolving door of interchangeable, beleaguered black captains. "I have been a fan for so long," Thurber says of casting St. Clair, "and when we knew we were going to change the captain runner this year... one of the writers who's smarter than me said, 'Oh, it could be a former network executive.' And I said, 'Yep, that's it.'"
"Every writer in that room knew exactly what that voice was, because we've all done it. We all have had those meetings, and so the voice was so clear, and then I think our producer, Beau Bauman, suggested Jessica St. Clair and I just jumped out of my chair," he continues. "I was like, 'Oh my god, do you think she'll do it?' And she said yes, and she came in and it's literally my favorite thing in season two. Her scenes with Ryan, the finale with her and Ryan, it's just... I don't think I've ever directed anything funnier than those scenes."
The new season is also jam-packed with celeb cameos from some of Hansen's former co-stars and famous friends, including Dax Shepard, Pete Wentz, Thomas Lennon, Jon Cryer (perhaps prepping for his Lex Luthor role as a deranged inmate version of himself) and more. And while Hansen's nice guy persona won't let him pick a favorite, he did name a few highlights from the stellar season of guest spots.
"It was really special to get back with Ken Marino and do that whole Party Down thing that we did, because he did his whole Party Down costume and stuff, and I think that was pretty sweet," he notes. "Stephen Merchant is a legend, I love him so much. Jane Lynch, of course, is one of my favorites. You know, I look up to all these people so much, it's so weird to have them on the show that I'm on. I love all of them so much."
As for how crazy these cameos can get (Lennon plays a version of himself who's still clinging to his Reno 911! character, hanging out in a Hollywood bar filled with former TV cops), Thurber said RHSCOT's guest stars "mostly just go for it, but we also take care to try to give them something to play."
"When you ask a favor from a friend, you know, you want to make sure they can come in and score," he explains. "So when we ask somebody to come in, we make sure that we double down on what their 'character,' what version of themselves they are playing and what they get to do in the scene."
Two more hilarious guest turns come in the show's "inclusion rider"-inspired ep (thanks, Frances McDormand!), where the unexpectedly pitch-perfect duo of Jillian Bell and Lucy Hale step in for Ryan and Vince in the name of gender equality -- and end up doing the job so well they threaten to take over policing duties permanently.
"We kind of came across the idea of, what if we just did, early in the episode, completely swap everyone out, and everybody in the whole episode becomes women and they solve the crime quickly and easily and it all worked so much better," Thurber explains of the concept. "We thought Lucy and Jillian together would be great. And then it's always fun to put Ryan in a tuxedo because he is so handsome and kind of have him be the butt of the jokes the whole way through. It was a very tricky episode to try to dial in, because it's a very sensitive topic and it's an important topic and you want to have fun with it, but you don't really want to make fun of it. That was kind of the fine line there."
RHSCOT's epic second season ends on a "dramatic" Bachelor-style cliffhanger, where Wiley's character returns and Ryan is forced to choose between his partners, past and present. So will we ever see who gets the final rose?
"There are no season three plans presently, but I think if we were lucky enough to get a third season from either YouTube or some other suitor, we've got a bunch of ideas that we are kind of excited about," Thurber notes. "So, fingers crossed for season three. Presently, as we sit here, we've said goodbye to Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television."
As for the real-life Hansen, he's currently filming a mini-reunion with Hale on the Fiji set of the Fantasy Island feature film adaptation after wrapping his part on the Veronica Mars Hulu revival series. While the actor couldn't tease much about his return to Neptune as Dick Casablancas, he said it's "gonna be good!"
"They are doing eight episodes and I already finished my bit and headed off to Fiji, but... every time we get to do a little something with Veronica Mars, it's such a treat," he says. "It's the show that keeps on giving and, you know, I pretty much started on that show. So, to keep having that fan base still, and getting able to play with the cast that I kind of I grew up with, it's truly amazing."
Season 2 of Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television is now streaming on YouTube Premium.