If you’re one of many TV viewers thrilled to have the laughs that JANN brings into our lives once more, then you’re not alone. Zoie Palmer, who plays Jann’s (Jann Arden) younger sister Max on the show, was also especially grateful for the levity and joy created by the show and her costars this season. At almost exactly the same time as JANN started shooting Season 3, Palmer lost her mother. She recently shared with The TV Junkies about how she channeled her grief and feelings about that into her role as Max, as well as how her costars helped her through the difficult time.
As viewers will see when Season 3 continues Monday night, Palmer’s onscreen persona is dealing with a lot of parental issues of her own. Max and Jann are again confronted with Nora’s (Deobrah Grover) declining health, and try to navigate what it’s like dealing with a parent who has dementia. Palmer also previews how Max may continue to deal with the fallout from last season’s bombshell about her father.
The TV Junkies: I think I speak for many fans when I say how glad I am to have you and the entire JANN crew back for Season 3. What was it like, especially with all the heavy things going on in the world, to come back for another year with this gang and this craziness?
Zoie Palmer: It was fantastic. All of us who work on the show, from the cast and crew to everybody, it was the most time we spent with anyone in ages. We all talked a lot about that because everyone had been in lockdown. It was a bit surreal to all of the sudden be plunged into a pile of people. They went above and beyond to make sure it was safe, so it felt very good to be there and be able to connect with people. The vibe on set is very much in the vein of the show. It’s a joyful place to be.
TTVJ: I know you shared that you lost your mother right before shooting started. How did that affect you and your work this season?
ZP: It was on Day 1 of production, though I was aware and she was very ill for a couple of months. It was very, very surreal to have my mother in Ireland and be doing everything over Zoom. I don’t have words to articulate how it informed my work, though it absolutely did.
Deb, who plays our mother on the show, is the most beautiful human being you could ever meet. She’s the youngest soul on set and has such life in her. She really showed up for me, in the most lovely, but respectful, way. Everybody on set was like that and I really felt supported. They really carried me through that time.
It was incredibly challenging, but being on a show that was light meant I had to switch gears. We’d film throughout the week and I couldn’t bring it to work. So I had to make an effort to take a breath, do the scene, and be with these people who were really there for me. We got through it together and it would’ve been terrible if I was stuck in lockdown in Toronto by myself. Life happens, whether you’re ready or not, and it shows there’s still a lot to be grateful for as far as how it happened.
TTVJ: Listening to you speak about compartmentalizing and switching gears, I’m reminded of the last time we spoke. You had just shot your role as Jolene on Wynonna Earp and had to do a similar thing because that was emotional in a whole other way. What a wild job you have! It must be incredibly difficult.
ZP: You have to manipulate yourself and go to places that are uncomfortable or really interesting. That’s the job and what so many actors love about it. It’s oxygen for me to get to do those things. For anyone who has a draw towards anything artistic, there’s some need to connect to something that’s a bit fantastical. So we do!
TTVJ: Something I really love about JANN is that while there are plenty of laughs, we do get to see the seriousness of what Jann and Max are going through with their mom. How might we see them continue to deal with and go through that process this season?
ZP: You’re watching these people deal with it in real-time. We don’t see her fall apart all in one episode. We’re navigating it by the hour almost. She’s fine in lots of moments, but then there are others you really question. Our characters almost forget, which you do, that there’s something up.
I’ve had this experience with my parents, where I have a moment of frustration with them because I forget they are aging, right? So I say, ‘what’s wrong with you?’ We forget they are human beings and facing their own mortality. The writers are doing quite a beautiful job of showing Jann and Max forget and then, have these moments of being almost punched in the face by the reality of the situation. Our mother on the show is doing the same thing. She has a lot of moments where everything is fine, but then quickly will have a moment where it’s not fine.
TTVJ: A huge moment for Max last season was when she learned the truth about her father. Does she explore that more this season? What can you preview about that?
ZP: We do see more of that and Max is facing a lot at once. It’s a lot of information to digest. She only just learned she doesn’t have the same father as Jann, so this season is a lot of her processing this reality and figuring out who this person is in her life. We also see her mother relate to him a bit, and we watch Max watch that. She knows her mother in one way, and then she sees her relating to her father, and it’s just Max going through that. Because it’s on JANN, it’s done with a ton of comedy and levity, but underneath you see the people figuring out how to newly relate to one another.
TTVJ: Jann mentioned that due to COVID, the show worked in a lot of flashbacks this season. Do we get to see any fun Max-related flashbacks?
ZP: We do indeed! We see the beginning of Max and Dave’s relationship and their apartment. It’s a really fun scene and you see what wardrobe they both thought looked cool back then. It’s like when I remember getting a perm in Grade 9, thinking it looked amazing, and then you look at the pictures like, ‘Dear God why didn’t anyone tell me?’ There’s a lot of eye candy in that way this season. Our makeup and wardrobe teams did a really good job this year.
JANN Season 3 airs Mondays at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV. Seasons 1 and 2 of JANN are currently available for streaming on CTV.ca, the CTV app, and Crave, and in the United States on Hulu.
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.