Before we jump into the finale, I wanted to know how much of the storyline surrounding Love’s murder of Gil (Mackenzie Astin), the anti-vaxxer, was influenced by our country’s current COVID-19 vaccine crisis.
We started talking about the season in February of 2020. That’s when our room opened, so there was no pandemic, and we were all just sitting in a room talking about what is the scariest part about being a parent—what is so terrifying or infuriating that you would hit someone over the head and lock them in a cage? The parents in the room talked about how scared they are when their children are sick.
I think, certainly, we’re all watching that differently than we did a year ago. There’s a lot about that character who’s a really good dad. It wasn’t our goal to paint some kind of caricature or monster.
Part of what we’re trying to do is invite you to look a little more deeply at your reactions. For me, I have this knee-jerk reaction to what I see as a romantic hero, where I believe him when he tells me why he’s motivated, and I think he’s being heroic and romantic. The invitation of the book and the show was to look at that a little more deeply. He’s a stalker, he’s a killer—like, is that really what you want in your life?
Hopefully we’re also inviting that question to pop into your head about the women on the show too. Just as much as we are used to lionizing white male romantic heroes, we are so fucking quick to judge women. And by the way, at the top of the list of women are mothers. They really can’t get it right, no matter what they do. So if it makes you pause for just a second in between screaming at your TV, and just be like, “Huh, yeah, she’s not actually worse than he is, but my reaction is different,” that’s good.
That brings me to that moment between Love and Marienne, where we hear what’s really going on alongside Joe’s rationalizations. Love’s like, “He’s obsessed with you,” while Joe is thinking, “No, I’m saving you.” I have to say, I really liked that Marienne instantly believed Love and chose to leave without Joe.
It’s interesting that you say that, because I’ve actually talked to people today who asked me the question, “Who is she running away from?” And I think that maybe some people will watch it and think she’s running away from Love.
Either way, Marienne has good instincts. I actually think most people have good instincts, and then we’re socialized not to listen to them. That’s especially true for women. You hear so often, “I had this weird little feeling, but I was trying to be polite.” Part of Marienne’s story is that she has had quite a journey with that. Her relationship with Joe is not all bad. She is gaining strength from that friendship at times. But it was important to us that ultimately, she’s making an independent decision in that moment because her first priority is her daughter. Romance is cool, but these people are a lot of trouble.