Why did you cast Katie Finneran as Sharon?
She just sings on screen. She has impeccable comic timing, and is just a brilliant actress across the board. Also, she had a part in Night of the Living Dead as part of the zombie barbeque. If you get eaten by a zombie in a horror movie, I’m in love with you.
While the pilot deals somewhat with Sharon’s sexuality, the rest of the season seems to be more about Sharon’s relationship to her sister.
Yes, during the first season I would say she’s first and foremost Jaye’s sister, and secondarily a lesbian. But we do show Sharon’s girlfriend coming back, we see that that relationship is being maintained and that Sharon’s in the closet. She is definitely a big part of the show, though.
A lot of shows make a big deal about their lesbian characters initially, and then reduce their storylines to nothing pretty quickly afterwards (like ER or Two and a Half Men). Is Wonderfalls going to fall into that trap, as well?
Like any human being, Sharon’s sexuality is only small facet of who she is, although it does inform her being in the closet, not wanting to tell her parents, and all these related issues. But it’s not something we’re constantly hitting really hard in the first season.
In the second season, however, we’ll be able to explore those ideas more freely. There are things that happen in the first season, for example, that are setting up huge character arcs for Sharon in the second season. Huge! We have so many big things coming for Sharon–we’re going to be seeing a lot of the lesbian lawyer in the second season.
What inspired you to make Sharon a lesbian in the first place?
Todd and I are both openly gay, and I think we feel a responsibility to having gay characters on shows we create. I had a gay character (George’s father) on Dead Like Me, and unfortunately after I left that show they made the character straight, which I did not appreciate and frankly, thought was really shitty. But that was just one of many things about that situation that was uncool.
It’s also a point of view that Todd and I share: we can write about Sharon’s perspective of being gay because I know what that feels like. It’s not a point of view that you see often on TV, so it’s a little more fresh, a little less trodden, and just opens the door on storytelling.
Are you going to show Sharon kissing her girlfriend, or is that something the network doesn’t want you to do?
The network’s standards and practices have told us that we cannot have them kiss on-screen; we get letters from the network’s standards and practices saying “Under no circumstances are their lips ever to touch.” But that’s not unusual: when I was doing Carrie for NBC, one of our character’s was doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on another character who had drowned, and we got a note on how to film the lesbian kiss. I was like “it’s mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, you dumbass!”
But if you look closely, you see Sharon and her girlfriend’s lips actually connect right before they fall out of the shot in one of the Wonderfalls episodes. It’s very quick, but we managed to get that in