Rebecca Blumhagen discusses The Girls Guide to Depravity, which returns with new Season 2 episodes Friday, September 13th on Cinemax
All TV shows have to start somewhere, but it isn't every day you hear about a TV series stemming from a blog. Cinemax's The Girl's Guide to Depravity can stake such a claim, spawned from the website created by Heather Rutman that offers no-nonsense "rules" for young women on the sexual prowl in this day and age. The series kicks off Season 2 with "The Girl on Girl Rule" Friday, September 13 at 12 AM ET/ 9 PM PT. I recently had the chance to speak with star Rebecca Blumhagen, who plays Samantha on the series, about what fans can expect from the upcoming episodes, joining the writing staff this season, composing a song for the show, and much more. Take a look at what she had to say below.
You don't hear about too many shows these days that are based on a blog. Can you talk about your initial reaction to that pilot script, which really sparked your interest?
Rebecca Blumhagen: I auditioned for it, but I didn't think that I was quite right for it. I don't go out and party and drink, that's not really me. It was great because what they were looking for with my character, Sam, is she felt really awkward and out of place in that world, so it ended up working out perfectly. What first piqued my interest in the show was it's modern stories. It's not a romanticized version of what it's like to date in the city, but a comedic take on real tactics women use to try and keep their power and stay in control in a relationship. That was what first piqued my interest. In the audition, there were all the producers and directors and executives, and they asked me if I had any questions about this show. I said, 'Yes, why do you think it's an important story?' One of the people at HBO said, 'Well, I have two daughters your age and I think there aren't enough stories about realistic, real-life dating stories for your generation.'
I read that you actually joined the writing staff this season as well. Was there something in particular that drew you towards that side of the production, and how you have transitioned from just acting to writing and acting?
Rebecca Blumhagen: Everyone on the production team wanted stories that were relevant and real, so they started reaching out to a couple of new writers that are on the show this season that we're excited about. There are two girls who wrote a book called The Gaggle, which is also about real-life dating stories. When they were writing, I got to be involved with the creator and the writers from the beginning, as far as how we wanted to expand the world this year. Last season, it was all really about the friendship between Sam and Lizzie (Sally Golan), and this year, we wanted to bring more dimension to other characters who came into the story. That was really great. I got to help with that, and we did a ton of collaborative writing. It was a really collaborative process that was really wonderful.
How does the dynamic shift this season, with Sam and Lizzie going their separate ways? You said there are other characters who are highlighted this season, so are there any particular stories that you think fans will really be excited about?
Rebecca Blumhagen: Yeah, definitely. In Season 1, Lizzie was really strong and Sam was always the questioner and the learner. She would follow along wherever Lizzie lead. At the beginning of this season, Lizzie's life takes an interesting turn, which brings Sam to a place where she really has to come into her own. She has to question everything in her life and she has to take ownership and responsibility for the things she's doing. Also, there are a couple of new characters. There's a neighbor who moves in next door, a younger more naive, if that's possible, version of Sam. She's kind of a dating chameleon. If she dates a sports guy, she researches everything about sports and shows up in a sports jersey. At the beginning of the season, Sam is questioning what the rules really mean. How have they really helped me? She encounters the dating chameleon and another girl who is basically on a path of revenge, after dating a serial cheater for the past five years. Sam is sort of forced to look at the rules again, and say, 'What part of these rules are actually helpful?'
It's really interesting, with a show based on rules like this, how these characters react to and adapt to these rules, even making their own rules along the way.
Rebecca Blumhagen: Yeah, I agree. This season is really about re-defining the rules, and figuring out how to balance the wisdom of the rules with also thinking for yourself and following your instincts. When do you follow your instincts, and when is that a really terrible idea? (Laughs)
Is Heather Rutman involved in the day-to-day workings of the show, and, if so, can you talk about her interactions with the cast and the writers during production?
Rebecca Blumhagen: She is basically our godmother. She is always available if we have any questions or if we need anything, because she is basically the mentor throughout the whole process. She has definitely been involved throughout the whole process.
Are there actors that you really want to come onto the show, or are there certain stories that you're pitching that you really want to see?
Rebecca Blumhagen: I would love to show where we bring in parents and grandparents and other generations, where you get Sam's parents showing up and crashing on her couch for two weeks, and what kind of conflicts that creates for her in her life. I have always thought that would be a really fun direction, but we do have Sam's brother comes by for a couple of weeks. Jason's (Jesse Liebman) ex-girlfriend, who is now a lesbian, shows up on his front doorstep. She's a great character. There are a bunch of new, really wonderful regulars that show up throughout the season.
I also read that you composed one of the songs for the show. Is that something they approached you for, or is that something you had an idea for, going into this season?
Rebecca Blumhagen: That happened in the writing process. There was a scene that I wrote a song into on set, and they asked what was the melody to it. It's basically a parody of a pop song, so I wrote the melody and they shot it, and then the composer made this amazing song out of it. It was really funny, because I have a totally different writing style, musically, but this was a great example of just throwing a piece of creativity out there. That was really funny. I love that episode.
Do you have any favorite interactions with fans after the first season aired? Have you had people on either Twitter or just coming up to you on the street, who have expressed their love for the show?
Rebecca Blumhagen: That's been one of the most rewarding things about being a part of the show, because the way people have responded to the show, they can really identify with it. Even guys, who have said, 'This isn't normally a show I would have watched, because it's four girls, but I identify the struggles that these girls are going through.' That, I feel, is the real point of success, where the stories are universal and people can connect to them. We had this Twitter poetry contest, live-tweeting with one of the episodes, so people were tweeting along. There is some really clever and funny responses to what already is a clever show. I was in a play in September, and a fan came up and saw the play and had dinner with us. It was really sweet to hear people say, "I like the show. It's honest and funny, but it's really true.'
Is there anything you have in development that you're looking to start shooting this fall?
Rebecca Blumhagen: I'm excited about the new stuff I'm writing. I'm spending some time working on some personal projects.
Is there anything you'd like to say to anyone who isn't familiar with the show, about why they should catch up and check out Season 2?
Rebecca Blumhagen: Our producers call it a female buddy comedy, that's our little description for it. The humor is very self-deprecating. All the situations, we're not making fun of other people. We're making fun of ourselves. You really see that in the show. There's a lot of looking honestly at the silly things that we do. I'm really excited about this season because is really has an ensemble feel. You can really feel it in the show, because everyone is working together and playing off of each other, coming up with ideas on the set. Our director is so great because he's really collaborative and he really fosters an environment where that kind of creativity can bloom.
Excellent. That's all I have, Rebecca. Thanks so much. It was great talking to you.
Rebecca Blumhagen: Yeah, thank you so much.