Netflix dropped several news bombs over the weekend at the Winter TCAs. Here’s the latest updates on four of our favorite (female-centric, female-created) shows:
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”: The biggest update about Tina Fey and Ellie Klemper’s Emmy-nominated sitcom is that Netflix has renewed it ahead of its Season 2 debut. Like so many other showrunners working with Netflix, Fey expressed relief that she’s no longer burdened by ratings anxiety: “It’s very freeing not to live by fear,” she said.
Some things haven’t changed since her NBC days, though. Fey and co-creator Carlock still write with act breaks, she revealed at the TCAs, and though Netflix means no longer being bound to broadcast standards, she’s hesitant as a mother to go all the way to the edge, especially since the show has a younger audience. “I would hate for [viewers]] to trust this show, and then you put on the second season and it was just — prison sex,” Fey joked.
Season 2 will debut on April 15.
Since Rosenberg and her team found out about Season 2 with the rest of us, she hasn’t begun developing follow-up stories for Jessica. What the showrunner can definitively say, however, is that the series will continue to borrow from the “Alias” comic series. “I will always use as much as I possibly can from the book,” she affirmed.
Krysten Ritter’s super-powered character has other contractual obligations: Jessica will appear in Netflix’s “Avengers”-like comics mash-up “The Defenders.” She’ll probably also make at least an appearance in “Luke Cage,” the series devoted to her love interest in “Jessica Jones” Season 1, since the two characters are married in the comics.
But Rosenberg claims she’s not focusing on all that stuff beyond her show. “I think I just want [“Jessica Jones”] to be about her character. She’s a very damaged character, and that damage goes beyond Kilgrave. There’s a lot to mine from in her backstory and into her present-day situation.”
A Season 2 release date hasn’t yet been set.
“Orange is the New Black”: Things somehow got worse for Litchfield inmates at the end of Season 3, when privatization of the prison led to extreme overcrowding. Creator Jenji Kohan promised to deal with issues of overcrowding, as well as of race and politics, during her next season.
Sounds heavy, but Kohan and her writers’ ability to leaven those topics with humor and illustrate how such issues impact the lives of everyday people is what has led “OITNB” to be Netflix’s most-watched show.
Kohan also restated that she always meant “OITNB” to be an ensemble show, and that Piper was only a gateway character: “Piper was our entrée to our world. She’s always a presence and we’re invested in her story, but as it grows, we’re invested in everyone’s story.”
“To have a show that prioritizes the stories of women of color, older women, queer women… that’s one of the best things [about it],” added castmember Laverne Cox. “To give each story such care and humanity is unprecedented on TV, and that can only happen on Netflix.”
“OITNB” returns for its fourth season on June 17.
“Grace and Frankie”: Cast and crew were tight-lipped about the upcoming season of Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s show, but the show’s TCA panel did reveal two morsels of info: a new love interest for Grace and an explanation for why Dolly Parton will (sadly) not appear in Season 2.
After squaring off with Tomlin in last summer’s “Grandma,” Sam Elliott will play a married man who woos Fonda’s Grace this year. “It gets really complicated and kind of wonderful,” Fonda said of their romance, adding that it’ll be “really sexy and really sad and complicated, but it’s also very funny.”
When a reporter mentioned that Elliot had said backstage that he had had a huge crush on Fonda when she starred in 1971’s “Klute,” the actress rejoined, “I wanted you to say he had a crush on me from Season 2…. Who wouldn’t have a crush on me back then? I want him to have a crush on me now.”
As for a potential appearance by Parton, co-creator Marta Kauffman said, “Here’s the deal: I feel we’re still creating a world and the world is ‘Grace and Frankie’…. The minute you bring Dolly Parton, who I love by the way, it’s ‘9 to 5’ no matter what you do.” But Kauffman, who formerly co-created ‘Friends,’ is not ruling out the possibility for the future. “I’ll never say never. No, that’s not true, because I will say there will never be a ‘Friends’ reunion movie, but I will not say never on Dolly Parton.”
“Grace and Frankie” returns on May 6 and has already been renewed for a third season.