Go big or go home, right? In Season 2 of the CTV comedy JANN, things have definitely gone big! Jann (Jann Arden) may still be selfish and in need of constant attention, but she is trying to change for her family and girlfriend Cynthia (Sharon Taylor). In this week’s episode, “Drop the Single,” Jann bumps heads with her business manager Cale (Elena Juatco) over what style of new single to release. Should it be the electronic dance music track Cale has helped engineer, or the song Jann has recorded from her heart?
Before Jann’s choice is revealed tonight, The TV Junkies recently spoke with the two women at the helm of the JANN ship, co-creator and executive producer Leah Gauthier and showrunner Jennica Harper. Gauthier and Harper discussed how coming together to work on JANN has resulted in an excellent working relationship that is going strong as they currently work on planning out Season 3. They also shared why Jann will get some wins this season and improve as a person, but why they can’t take her all the way to being completely reformed. Gauthier and Harper also discuss how fun it was to be able to snag guest stars like Sarah McLachlan and k.d. lang, who guest stars in this week’s episode.
The TV Junkies: You’ve now got two seasons under your belt, and I know you’re currently at work planning out a Season 3. What’s it like working together to guide the JANN ship?
Leah Gauthier: Well now we’re best friends, right Jennica?
Jennica Harper: We are very close, and this has been like an arraigned marriage that worked out really, really well. There’s a lot of times that partnerships like this don’t go that well, but the truth is, people are aware we are obnoxiously having a great time enjoying each other’s company. We really get along well and compliment each other’s skills.
LG: Jann and I, early on, met with a bunch of people when we were looking for a showrunner. Because Jann is such a part of the show, and it is her face and name, she has a lot of say in decisions. When we met Jennica we knew immediately that this was the woman we wanted to work with. She has all the skills that I don’t, and so together, we work really well.
JH: I did not know I was going to get the job. I really thought someone else would get it.
LG: Jennica was worried because she had never showrun before but that’s my entire purpose, and what happened to me.
TTVJ: Jann Arden is a pretty big deal, and yet, you guys throw her in some really hilarious and ridiculous situations. What’s it like writing for her, especially as you’ve seen her skills as an actress increase?
JH: We were nervous before we started shooting Season 1 because we didn’t know if it was going to work. Now I kind of don’t understand how she is capable of doing what she does. She’s obviously a very funny person, but it’s a totally different thing to just be memorizing all the lines. She shoots for hours and hours on our show, and to do that, and do it well and be funny, is pretty incredible. Now though, we don’t hold back at all for her. We write what we think would be good, and we know she can do it.
TTVJ: Do you have a favorite ridiculous moment you’ve put Jann in for the show?
LG: There’s one coming up this season in Episode 6. Not only do we put her in the world’s worst outfit, but we make her do an incredible stunt. Let’s just say there’s a lot of dangling!
TTVJ: Is the outfit worse than the black snake one from Season 1?
LG: Yes, it is worse than that!
JH: On a scale of one to snake dress, it is an 11! She somehow makes it absolutely adorable.
TTVJ: The Jann we see in Season 2 on the show is still very much the Jann we met in Season 1, but she is trying to change. What was the plan for her path and growth in Season 2?
JH: That’s the big question of the whole show. It’s a serialized show, so we want her to have movement forward, but if she becomes a thoughtful, considerate person then the comedy is dead. It’s what we talk about all the time. In Season 2, we’re putting her through different paces. She’s committed to Cale and what Cale has planned for her, but she’s not necessarily a good sport about it all. She’s still resisting and kind of a dick about it all. We did have moments though, like in Episode 3, where she’s selfishly upset about Cynthia, but at the same time, Cynthia is also culpable in that episode and Jann is right. We wanted to make sure we had that balance where sometimes Jann is right. She’s got some big wins later in the season as well, but we don’t want to go all the way.
TTVJ: Outside of Arden, the JANN cast is pretty amazing, and I think that really shone through in the camping episode. Why did you want an episode like that bringing everyone together?
LG: I don’t know why we would choose to do a camping episode in Calgary at that time. It shifted our whole schedule twice and there was a wind storm. But we do love having the family all together, and we’ve written a Season 3 episode that’s similar to that with them all in the same space. It’s fun to have that dynamic between the group and choreography between the offshoots of conversation. It’s such a good time!
JH: Our cast is so good that one of the challenges of the show is servicing all the characters we love. We love them all! People like Charley don’t get as much to do, but Alexa [Steele] is so great and has an amazing energy that we try to make sure we give her stories intentionally. We try to give people things because we’re aware the show is called JANN. She’s always going to be the A story and always have the biggest scene count, but we love those guys too. We hope that we do a lot with a little sometimes. Any one of these actors could be leading their own show, and the fact that we have them in our ensemble? We’re very fortunate.
TTVJ: You’ve had some amazing guest stars this season and that continues this week with k.d. lang. What’s it been like to know these talented musicians, like k.d. and Sarah McLachlan, are willing and wanting to come out and play on JANN?
JH: It’s really exciting to know that they trust us, and I think the first season really helped show what the show is. They know we’re not going to make them look bad and that they’ll look like a good sport for poking fun at themselves. I was really glad that Sarah and k.d. were willing to come out, and there’s some more singers that come out in Episode 8.
LG: We do also have the rule that if you’re a musical celebrity you are playing yourself. The exception is Keshia Chanté who packs a big punch this season.
JH: That was a choice because we wanted her to be an ingenue that Todd snaps up. The real Keshia has quite a following!
TTVJ: Since you are already hard at work on Season 3, is there anything you can share with us about how that’s going?
JH: One of the things we love about Season 2 is that it’s so big. There’s huge events and things that are frankly, impossible to film right now. The finale is just huge! Our natural gravitation for Season 3 was towards more intimate character stories. We already discussed going there in January, and so we feel really lucky that the season we’re prepping to shoot in the new year is shootable. There’s a lot of very fun, silly, ridiculous stuff, but it happens to be a bit more grounded and not in need of the big crowds. We felt really excited that we were already leaning towards more intimate stories.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.