Why Wynonna Earp Came Along at the Best Time for Writer/Co-Exec Producer Noelle Carbone

SYFY / Bell Media

For a lot of fans of Wynonna Earp, the supernatural western seemed to come along at just the right moment in their lives, exactly when they needed this type of show the most. That fact is also true for people working behind the scenes of the series, which airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on SYFY and Space Channel, and in particular Season 3 writer and co-executive producer Noelle Carbone. After very successful stints writing on procedural shows such as Rookie Blue, Saving Hope and the upcoming Season 3 of Cardinal, Wynonna Earp was Carbone’s first foray into genre television. The demons and revenants that inhabit Purgatory could be considered a far cry from the cop and hospital worlds that Carbone had become accustomed to writing about.

While it admittedly took some time to sit back and take it all in, Carbone tells The TV Junkies that she did adjust to the new, no boundaries type world of Wynonna Earp and the job turned into one of the best of her career. Carbone’s first scripted hour of Wynonna Earp, “I Fall to Pieces,” airs this Friday. In preparation for the episode, which was directed by Grant Harvey, Carbone offered up some thoughts on her experience joining Wynonna, what she loved most about it and previewed what fans can expect from the episode that features special guest star, and Canadian icon, Jann Arden.


The TV Junkies: Some of the other writers have talked about what a fun room you guys had for Season 3. What was your experience like joining the show and working specifically with this team of writers?

NC: I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had more fun in a writing room. Like ever. I laughed so hard that first week that I actually threw up in the garbage on Day 3. (Thanks, Andras.) The truth is, before Wynonna, I’d just come off the worst professional experience of my life and was feeling completely undone. And then I got the Wynonna gig and from the second I walked into that room, it felt like family. I don’t know how or why because I’d only met Emily a few times and I didn’t know Brendon, or Shelley at all. I’d worked with Matt for like a minute on Saving Hope. The only person I knew was Caitlin, because her husband and I play soccer together, but I’d never worked with her before. So I was a little intimidated that first day. But then Emily got rolling and suddenly everyone was smiling and in stitches, and we’re all talking with such love and devotion for this show and these made up characters that it was clear I was in a safe space, with the most amazing people, on a very special show. And then I was so busy feeling lucky and grateful that I forgot to be scared.

TTVJ: You hadn’t really written genre TV before. Can you talk a little about what it was like for you coming in and having to now play in that sandbox? With Purgatory, the Ghost River Triangle, revenants and Bulshar, among many other things, Wynonna Earp has a lot of mythology to keep up with that must’ve presented quite a challenge.

NC: I like genre TV and I watch quite a bit of it. That being said, I don’t think I uttered a word for the first two weeks I was in the Wynonna room. I just stared at the board, and the other writers, with a blank look on my face. And then I’d go home and wait for my agent to call me and tell me that Emily had decided to consciously uncouple me from the story room. But some time after that, I hit my stride and started focusing on the stuff I’m good at. I’ve been a diehard Wynonna Earp fan since Season 1 so I knew the show’s world pretty well. And then I gave myself homework to catch up on the other stuff. I read up on demons and monsters and mythological creatures. I remember I brought home a book called “Demonology 101” with all these gruesome illustrations in it. One day I was reading it while casually playing with my 3 year old and my wife-ish was like “Um. Can you not do that around her?” Which was a totally fair request. My daughter’s fine, by the way. The night terrors were short-lived.

SYFY / Bell Media
SYFY / Bell Media

TTVJ: While it may have been a challenge at first, what did you end up enjoying the most about writing genre TV?

NC: Finally getting to write “shit” in dialogue. Do you have ANY idea how hard it is to write a cop show without ever getting to use the word “shit”? Besides that, I love the freedom of it. There are rules you have to follow to make sure the stories stay grounded in your specific world. But beyond that, you can go batshit crazy with the stories and let your imagination run wild. You never get a “that would never happen” note from the network or the producers. Basically anything you can imagine would TOTALLY happen. (Unless Emily says it wouldn’t.)

And in terms of this episode, 307 comes at a time in the season when we can press pause on some of the mythology and do a fun, rompy character-heavy episode without feeling like the stakes have disappeared. And I can do fun character romps all day long. And still maybe make you cry at the end. Basically, Emily threw me a pitch she knew I could hit.

I should mention that the entire time we were breaking this episode I was like “You guys are sure this is okay, right? This isn’t the single dumbest idea you’ve ever heard? Okay. Cool. Cool. Cool.”

TTVJ: I know you participated in live tweeting on past shows you’ve worked on, such as Rookie Blue and Saving Hope, but what’s your experience been like with this Wynonna Earp fandom and their huge social media presence?

NC: This fandom is F*CKING INSANE. In the best possible way! I’ve honestly never seen anything like it. Where your show is trending hours before it even starts airing and still trending hours afterwards. And there are gifs flying around two seconds after the scenes have aired, and Nuutmeg has made a hundred cross-stitches of everyone’s favourite lines ten seconds after they’ve been uttered, and things like #Jolene and #Earpmas (which isn’t even a real word) are trending, and Mel and Tim are Tweet-sparring about whose fault it is that Doc did that thing that he probably shouldn’t have done last episode, and our network exec (shoutout JoshFromSyFy!) is retweeting Emily’s photo of a Christmas angel made of tampons, and I’m staring at my phone going… WHAT. IS. HAPPENING. But I’m also smiling so huge my face hurts.

I feel very lucky to a be a small part of the fever dream that is this incredible fandom.

TTVJ: Did you find that you had a favorite character that you really enjoyed writing for?

NC: Usually with network TV — especially on a series with a female lead — you get countless notes about likeability. The women have to be heroic and beyond reproach at all times. And it’s really f*cking boring. For the actresses, as well. The biggest adjustment for me with writing Wynonna wasn’t necessarily the genre aspect. It was freeing myself from all that “honorable woman” bullshit and writing a strong female character who could fuck up and throw up and kick ass and get blasted and be raw and vulnerable and real and still say things like “Eat a dick.” (Thank you, Shelley Scarrow.) So for me, Wynonna was the most fun to write.

SYFY / Bell Media
SYFY / Bell Media

TTVJ: People are very excited that it seems like we’re going to get some good moments this week between Wynonna and Nicole. What do you enjoy about their friendship and the push and pull they have going on?

NC: Episode 207 [“Everybody Knows”]  was one of my favourite episodes in the series. So when Emily floated the idea of another Wynonna/Nicole episode, I basically leapt out of my chair, jumped over the table and tacked my name to the episode. And everyone was like “Calm down. You could’ve just raised your hand.” And I was like, “I will cut you!”  And then we had to call H.R. to work some things out.

It’s sort of a no-brainer that if you’re going to do a fun mid-season episode, you’re gonna get the most bang for your buck handcuffing together the two characters who have the least in common. Or think they have the least in common. And then if you make it the most important day of Nicole’s career and force her to work with her ne’er-do-well, wild child, sort-of-sister-in-law and supernaturally stack the cards against them… well, that shit writes itself. I mean, I wrote it. But still…

Plus I think after the death of Dolls, and with Jeremy not being able to save him, and with Doc losing his way, and Waverly getting Jolene’d, and with Mama being such a wildcard, and Bobo being on the loose, and Nedley losing his mojo, and Bulshar being a super murdery creep, the Superfriends are really going to have to bond together and work their shit out if they’re going to survive the season. So think of this episode as a team-building episode. Like in Pitch Perfect 2 when they go to Aca-camp. Only with less singing and rope courses, and more drinking and running through the snow handcuffed together.

TTVJ: Doc made a very big decision at the end of last week’s episode. Will we see him have to deal with some ramifications about his choice this week?

NC: No. He’s fine.

He’s not fine. But there’s a war coming. And desperate times calls for desperate measures, especially now that he and Wynonna have Alice to think of. Neither of them wants that little girl growing up in a world where they’re both dead and Bulshar is president of North America — or whatever happens at the end of Season 3. So I think Doc, being the Old West man of action that he is, did what he felt he had to do. And now he has to deal with the repercussions. And with Megan Follows.

SYFY / Bell Media
SYFY / Bell Media

TTVJ: I know that Emily has everyone on strict spoiler lockdown so I won’t ask for more details about Jann Arden’s Bunny Loblaw. Instead, what was it like for you when you found out she’d be guesting in your episode?

NC: One thing I CAN tell you about Bunny Loblaw is that I named her after an 80-year-old cashier named Bunny who works at the Loblaws grocery store by our office. And the other thing I can tell you is that when Emily told me she was casting Jann Friggen Arden I screamed “YAAAAAS!” for like five minutes straight. Bunny is a … let’s call it “problematic” character, and Jann Arden is the least Bunny Loblaw person I can think of. Which is why I was so thrilled to hear that she’d been cast. We’ve had some kickass guest stars so far this season and Jann as Bunny is continuing that trend.

Actually, I’d like to propose a drinking game for Friday night. Every time Jann Arden makes you legit laugh out loud, DRINK. I’ll give you to the end of Act 4 before you pass out. Who’s in?

TTVJ: Is there anything else that I maybe missed that you’d like to add?

NC: There is one line in the episode – in my opinion, the best line in the episode – that I didn’t write. Emily told me Melanie and Kat came up with it while they were blocking. So I wanted to give them a shout out because it’s genius and it made me spit-take when I was watching the dailies. But also seethe with rage that I didn’t come up with it myself. I won’t tell you what it is. You’ll know it when you see/hear it.


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