Writer Caitlin D. Fryers on What She’s Learned in the Wynonna Earp Room

SYFY / Bell Media
SYFY / Bell Media

Despite still being early on in her writing career, Wynonna Earp writer Caitlin D. Fryers found herself as one of the more experienced writers when it came to time on the show in Season 3. With new to Wynonna writers Shelley Scarrow, Noelle Carbone and Matt Doyle all joining the writers room this season, Fryers became one of the show’s veterans since she’s been in the room since Season 1. She put that experience to good use earlier this season when she wrote the pivotal episode where Dolls (Shamier Anderson) died and the series was forever changed.

However, this week’s Wynonna Earp isn’t quite as somber, as “Waiting Forever For You” signals date night in Purgatory. There will be dressing up, drinking, and fighting demons, as a formidable former foe stalks the gang. Fryers recently shared some insights with The TV Junkies about what it’s like working in the Wynonna Earp writing room, what she’s learned from showrunner Emily Andras and previewed a bit about what to expect in this week’s episode. Fryers wrote Friday’s episode and it was directed by Grant Harvey.

 

The TV Junkies: When you started on the show you were very much the junior writer of the group, but now it’s your third year on the show. What have you learned by being a part of this show since the beginning?

Caitlin D. Fryers: I feel very blessed to have been hired on not only an incredible show that I love, but a show that got three – soon to be four – seasons. That’s truly a gift for a new writer (any writer, but especially a baby one). And I may be one of the three who’ve been on from the beginning, but my experience is a mole hill compared to the powerhouse ladies Shelley Scarrow and Noelle Carbone. They are legends and I learned so much from being in a room with them.

It’s been wonderful to see the show evolve, to see what the audience and the actors respond to – often it’s things you don’t expect. Like a licked potato, for example. I can see my writing becoming less inhibited. I trust my instincts more because I’ve been encouraged to do so…though I think imposter syndrome isn’t something you ever shake, even with other supportive writers in a room. You just learn to shut out that particular voice.

TTVJ: You had some new writers join the room in Season 3. What was it like to change things up there and how did that bring a new dynamic to things?

CF: Our room is – and has been – a very safe one, which is a credit to Emily. We get personal, we get silly; if you can’t discuss fear of motherhood in one moment and then tell the story of the time you licked a hot iron in the next, well, you’re not in the Wynonna Writers’ room.

Right from the beginning it was “best idea wins” regardless of who that idea comes from. Junior, senior, room cat, room dog (we have neither of those last two) it doesn’t matter. If it’s right for the show, it’s right for the show. This year was no different.

Shelley wasn’t a newbie, really; she wrote a terrific episode in Season 1 – we went to the Calgary Opera together so we’ve been making memories for years now (I got so lost trying to drive there, you have no idea). Shelley knows how to take ordinary ideas, and ordinary scenes in a direction that feels so right, yet completely surprises you. Like, you know, a cupcake baking demon who becomes a metaphor for depression and anxiety.

Matt Doyle brought a fantastic wit and quick-as-a-whip humour; he’s a joke machine who you can always count on for punch up —  and I was blown away by his writing on the Christmas Episode. He’s also a really lovely person, which is important.

I’ve actually known Noelle for several years, but oddly not through “work”, through my husband who plays soccer with her — GO TEAM! SCORE ALL THE GOALS! When she told me she wasn’t on a gig last summer, the stars aligned and we were gifted with Gnome Wife. Noelle is one of the most steady, optimistic human beings on the planet. Seriously. I’ve done a study. She brought that steadiness to the room – and delivered great scripts too. And she keeps trying to tell us that she hasn’t written genre before but I have doubts.

Also: shout out to Brendon Yorke for being all around awesome. He’s been there all three seasons and I’m grateful to have been in a writing room with such a supportive gentleman. We like the same hats too. Very important.

SYFY / Bell Media
SYFY / Bell Media

TTVJ: You’ve gone from writing scripts with Emily the first season to a couple of solo ones this year. What have you learned from writing with her and working with her for 3 years now?

CF: 1. Don’t save story for later – if it works for the episode we’re working on right now, lets do it. 2. Delivering a powerful thematic message can still be awesome and fun — and involve goo. 3. A general life lesson: Trust your instincts; you’re allowed to stick up for yourself as a woman and as a writer. Yes, be kind and patient but take no SHIT. It’s a tough industry but we’re tougher. And 4…surround yourself with good people and be a good person others want to be around.

TTVJ: In your time on the show, you’ve been assigned some of the more pivotal episodes. Last year you had the episode right after the pregnancy reveal and this year you wrote the episode where we lost Dolls. Is that just luck of the draw or are you volunteering for those episodes?

CF: Episodes are assigned by Emily, and we usually follow a pattern or a rotation – i.e. I wrote Episode 302 this year, so once the other writers had their scripts assigned it meant we were at Episode 308. If you pitched a particular idea —  plot point, event, villain – or you’re very passionate about one of those elements, and Emily’s able give you that episode, she will often do so. Last year it worked out that I pitched a sleep demon and we needed to do a bit of a time jump after Episode 5 so we used the demon to help us out. Also, I have complex feelings about being a mother — I’m not one, steady on — just like Wynonna, so I could channel those into the emotional scenes. I was assigned 302 in large part because I pitched the Mad Trapper all the way back in Season 1. And I think, if I shove aside my humility for a moment, once we learned that it was going to be an emotional episode, she believed I would be able to write it. It was a vote of confidence that I greatly appreciate, even if it was a very tough story to write.

TTVJ: How challenging was it to write the Dolls episode?

CF: Extremely. But I had support. I cried a lot. I learned a lot. Thankfully 308 involved less tears and more…vegetables.

TTVJ: Since you’ve been a part of the show from the beginning, you’ve seen the fandom grow and grow and then also got to be a part of EH Con and meet some fans earlier this summer. What’s it been like for you to see that happen and then get to meet Earpers in person?

CF: First of all, thank you to EH Con for inviting us, I loved it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I mean, even Twitter can’t compare with meeting people in person, but it is especially amazing when people introduce themselves by their twitter names and you’re like “I KNOW YOU!” you tweeted that hilarious response to a line of dialogue, or you thought that thing I wrote was funny/scary/vomit inducing. This show keeps going because of the community who support it. It’s humbling. It’s exciting. It’s inspiring. Seeing that fans exist makes me feel like maybe it wasn’t crazy to spend all those hours writing in the basement as a teenager because now I get to write things that bring people together. The other cool thing is seeing people make art inspired by the show; seeing other artists create and learn their own craft by celebrating Wynonna Earp is lovely. I’m running out of desk and wall and arm space for the goodies.

TTVJ: Emily has told us that this week is Date Night in Purgatory. What are you allowed to preview about what that may entail?

CF: If I say too much I might cause Potatogate…but I can also hint that we’re going to take a little trip down memory lane. Some stakes are going to be raised. Some tables turned. Also, Chantel Riley as Kate. She’s killer.

SYFY / Bell Media
SYFY / Bell Media

TTVJ: There’s several new faces that have joined in Season 3 with Mama, Kate, Robin, Charlie and Bulshar. Which one is your favorite or the most fun to write for?

CF: I know this is the most predictable of answers but it’s also true: I love them all. Writing for Megan Follows is sort of a cosmic dream come true…I can’t really describe it. She brought so much depth and…history…to the character, if that makes sense. Mama’s had a bloody hard life but she’s still loving it, and you can see that in Megan’s performance. Kate is so mysterious and unshakable, and Chantel delivers performances where we get to see her vulnerability, which I think is important for female characters especially. They can kick ass and feel hurt, angry, insecure, all at the same time – because as Waves says “they’re not mutually exclusive”. Plus Kate gets to call bullshit on everyone. She’s a truth teller and that character is a joy to write. Robin is a goddamn delight. He’s a conundrum – a forest ranger who doesn’t like the woods. A bit of an eccentric mess who’s also heroic and kind. Plus, he’s in the flush of a budding romance and I SHIP THEM SO HARD. Charlie is fun because he’s the normal outsider who has been thrown into this posse of nutbars and has to find his footing very quickly because well…Wynonna is tough to quit. Also, the hose jokes are a gift. Writing Bulshar…epic. We talked about him from the very very beginning of the show and now here he is, in the flesh. Jean Marchand is perfect. Absolutely perfect.

TTVJ: Is there anything else you’d like to preview for this episode?

CF: Get your margaritas and French fries ready because there will be salt!

 

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Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on SYFY and Space Channel.

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