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HBO’S ‘Getting On’ Creator, Executive Producer and Writer, Will Scheffer on the Show’s Final Season

HBO’S ‘Getting On’ Creator, Executive Producer and Writer, Will Scheffer on the Show's Final Season

In January 2014, I spoke with Will Scheffer about his HBO series "Getting On" for this publication:

You can read that interview HERE


And now we fast forward almost two years later and the show is in its third and final season. In our interview, Scheffer looks back at his experiences with
the show and talks about collaborating with his husband, Mark V Olsen – creator, executive producer and writer of "Getting On" and their other shows,
including "Big Love."

In addition to the HBO American cable channel, "Getting On" can be seen on HBO Latin America and HBO Europe and Asia, and through SKY (France, UK, Spain,
and so on.)

Kouguell:
With the increase of the global cable markets and increasing platforms, reaching a broader audience, how has this affected your shows?

Scheffer:
It was gratifying to have read about "Getting On’s" reception in Paris (where they love the show) before the recent attacks and to know that this show speaks
particularly to issues of loss and wounding and grief but in a way that enables laughter to mix with heartbreak. This season has so much more resonance to
me as it is a comedy. It’s not escapist. It’s healing comedy. You can laugh and cry in the darkest of hours and to me, that’s the greatest service to
provide as an artist. To allow people to experience their common humanity. Without self-importance. Experiencing and accepting the fragility of life, of
being human, is a wonderful place to begin from.

Kouguell:
Looking back at the three seasons of "Getting On," what were some of the most poignant and/or memorable moments for you working with the actors and
writers?

Scheffer:
We felt that by choosing "Getting On" to adapt we were entering into “stewarding” function with our British team. We wrote all of the episodes and
the first two seasons had a lot of material from the original series to adapt, but the final season was all original story. Still, we went to London and
ran our ideas by the original creators and worked with them. That relationship, receiving their input bonded us in a way that was unique to most
adaptations. The fact that Vicki Pepperdine and Joanna Scanlan appear in Episode 4 as their original characters and meet their American counterparts, and
vice versa— felt so amazing. It’s something we’d never seen before and it speaks to the way the British show and the American show are so different but
like siblings, so connected. We share the same blood. So that’s a long-winded way of saying, going to London for a week to work with “the girls’ was a high
point.

It’s hard to single out moments because working with our actors was the greatest experience of my career. Watching Niecy Nash bloom, seeing Mel Rodriguez
and Alex Borstein prove how brilliant they are. Experiencing Laurie Metcalf’s genius (I mean she is a national treasure — beyond, beyond) and then all of
our guest and co-stars. Just this season alone: Harry Dean Stanton, Mary Kay Place, Francis Conroy, Rhea Perlman, June Sqibb, Kristen Johnson, Jonathan
Silverman, Jayma Mays, Daniel Stern, Rita Moreno, Grant Bowler, Janis Ian!!! Meeting Didi’s family — Marsha, Corey, Gloria and Scott — they felt like a
real family. Anne Guilbert as Birdie. Not to mention the other great women we were able to work with like Betty Buckley, Tsai Chin, Jean Smart, Irma P.
Hall, Alia Shawkat, Carrie Preston, Molly Shannon— I can’t even list them all, I know I’m forgetting people and not even mentioning the supporting cast who
were brilliant. These diverse, brilliant actors in just 18 episodes.

Kouguell:
This is the second show you have created for HBO, "Big Love" ran for 5 seasons and like "Getting On," pushed the envelope in its examination
of timely, hot button issues. For
Big Love, the show was not just about polygamy and the power of the church, at its core it was about family. In "Getting On," some of the major topics/themes you tackle are ageism and the health care system. While "Getting On" is very funny, it also
strikes a major chord of realism. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Scheffer:
I think I mentioned already the theme of human frailty. And I just can’t stress enough how I believe it is an “undervalued” value in our society. I mean we
all get old and die. It’s not sexy but it’s part of life. And it doesn’t have to be shoved out of our consciousness or romanticized or treated
sentimentally or “importantly.” It’s life. And I wish people knew what they were missing by avoiding dealing with their fears about it. It’s like, do you
wanna deal with those fears now or do it later when it’s gonna be a real drag?

It was such a privilege for Mark and me to both be with our moms when they were dying. Sure it was hard, but it was incredibly layered and sometimes funny
and of course heartbreaking — but it was like I wanted to tell everyone: “Hey, you really should experience this, because it’s so amazing, even though it
hurts, too.”

Kouguell:
The main characters (with the exception of the brilliant Patsy) focus mainly on women and their relationships with their patients and with their
colleagues. There is so much talk in the industry now about the lack of women’s roles particularly in the ‘over 40’ category. What are your thoughts on
this?

Scheffer:
Yeah. Well. That’s always been the case. And I think it’s finally changing. The volatility in the business is palpable and I think that finally that really
big ugly fact about Hollywood is going to change. It has to. I know we’re going to keep writing great roles for women because, lucky for us, we’re good at
it, I think.

Kouguell:
What can we expect from this final season?

Scheffer:
Well. It’s the final season. So expect big stories, some big reveals and I’d say that I think the finale is one I will always be very proud of.

Learn more about "Getting On":
http://www.hbo.com/getting-on

Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, Susan Kouguell teaches screenwriting at Purchase College SUNY, and presents international seminars on
screenwriting and film. Author of SAVVY CHARACTERS SELL SCREENPLAYS! and THE SAVVY SCREENWRITER, she is chairperson of Su-City
Pictures East, LLC, a consulting company founded in 1990 where she works with writers, filmmakers, and executives worldwide. www.su-city-pictures.com, http://su-city-pictures.com/wpblog

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