How will the secrets that each of the Lawsons are keeping on This Life going to come out and what will the repercussions be? That’s the question that’ll be facing the family at the core of the CBC drama as it heads into the final four episodes of its freshman season. Despite dealing with a main character who received a terminal cancer diagnosis, the show is a family drama at its core that has provided many laughs and character driven moments along the way.
The TV Junkies recently sat down with one of This Life’s writers, Rachel Langer, to talk about what viewers can expect as the show heads towards its Season 1 finale, as well as how the writers worked to keep things light when dealing with such a dark topic.
The TV Junkies: Everyone in the Lawson family seems really good at keeping secrets. Are we going to see some resolution for each of the siblings and their respective secrets by the end of the season?
Rachel Langer: I think the way that we’ve tried to do it is that for every bit of resolution, either a new question or a new thought comes in. Because that’s life right? It’s always that turning wheel and it resolves and comes full circle to where you’re spinning on a new axis, but you’re still spinning. I do think there will be some satisfying conflict moments that help people get their heads around it.
TTVJ: How hard was it for you as writers to keep the show from being depressing to watch each week given its subject matter?
RL: My first episode that I’ve co-written was the aftermath of telling her kids. That’s probably the hardest episode and I’m like ‘OK, this is my first hour-long show and it’s the saddest one of the entire season.’ What surprises me is that we focus so much on the supporting characters that you almost forget that the show has this really sad hook. You’re kind of just living life along with them and even though there’s the cloud of cancer hanging over Natalie (Torri Higginson), what we really got into was ‘who is Natalie as a person? Who was she before? Who is she now and what is no different than it always was?’
You end up living with a character that you know and love and putting a pin in the cancer because it’s the only way you can really deal with it. The fact that life just has to carry on for all these characters, all the time, you have to do what they do, which is just only think of it when you have the capacity to think about it and put it aside when you need to.
TTVJ: Which Lawson did you enjoy writing for the most?
RL: I would say it goes back and forth between Romy (Julia Scarlett Dan) and Maggie (Lauren Lee Smith). I feel like Romy exercises every issue I ever had as a kid. When my parents watch her they are like ‘Oh OK. Yep!’ Maggie is two years younger than I am now and everything that she struggles with–all her millennial issues–I’m like ‘I get this girl!’
TTVJ: You guys have done something rare and created three teenagers who I really enjoy watching, am not annoyed by, and am invested in their respective stories outside of what’s going on with Natalie. How did you guys sidestep “the annoying teenagers” downfall which has, at times, brought down even some of the best shows?
RL: We did a lot of work to authenticate the younger voices by not using a lot of slang or anything that was too current. We just tried to remember that they are people with real issues and real feelings and what they are going through is the most real thing to them in their life. I remember being a teenager and thinking to myself ‘how does nobody understand this is life and death?’ That’s how they feel when they are going through these issues and you have to balance that without getting too melodramatic. It’s great because Natalie is such a balancing force for them.
TTVJ: You guys finished Season 1 with no indication whether or not there would be a second season. Does that mean there will be some form of resolution for viewers in the finale?
RL: The hope is always that you’re going to come back for another season, so for us we’re trying really hard to leave some unanswered threads–not only in hopes we get to come back, but that people are interested in coming back to watch. I think people are going to be both satisfied and unsatisfied.
What are you hoping to see from the final four episodes of This Life? Sound off in the comments below.
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.