“Incest is hot, and we’re going to have fun!” MTV‘s Happyland star Bianca Santos said this morning during the new series’ Q&A session at the TCA Summer TV Press Tour. “Now we have our lead!” responded journalists, in their heads — and one said out loud, in a follow-up question.
Right before the Q&A started, critics were treated to a clip from the pilot episode of the soapy teen comedy exploring the underbelly of a popular theme park. At the every end of the clip, Santos’ character, Lucy — around whom this show’s universe revolves — makes out with the theme park’s new hottie, only to discover they’re siblings– oh, yeah, SPOILER ALERT.
Understandably, that informed the questions they asked of the show panel up on stage – to the surprise, and weirdly, the annoyance of some panelists.
Questions such as: “So, why the twist — why the brother and sister making out thing, how does that relate to the other things (in the show)?” And, “Without getting too heavily into spoilers, where does this go after she realizes it’s her brother.”
Panelists were quick to point out the two characters did not know they were siblings when they made out. Show creator Ben Epstein noted the show itself is supposed to be fairytale-ish — dashing young new guy shows up suddenly and Prince Charming-ly, sweeps heroine off her feet, etc. — but adds the “MTV edge to it, and makes it all weird and crazy.”
That’s when Santos jumped in with ,”Incest is hot, and we’re going to have fun!”
“She kissed him and they are siblings. That does not sound complicated — that sounds horrifying,” one TV critic said, giving panelists a sneak peek at her review of the show.
Conversation grew strained at this point.
“The show is super emotionally grounded,” one cast member said, and, no, not ironically.
“I understand you’re all trying to get off the incest thing,” one TV critic told panelists like she meant it to sting.
“No, please, bring it back – we haven’t had enough,” an actor snarked back.
“Look, I didn’t put it in the pilot,” the critic snapped back, noting the series is billed as a comedy, but “I don’t think there’s a funny Flowers In The Attic.”
Exec producer Neil Meron, a seasoned veteran of Press Tour Q&A kerfuffles, jumped in: “They MIGHT be brother and sister.”
“As Neil said, they may be,” added his producing partner Craig Zadan. “And, they basically kissed. They didn’t make out. Nothing sexual happened.”
That seemed to calm down the press. Santos did not want them calmed down. She began to prattle on merrily about how she expected viewers to “go ‘Holy Crap!’… with the reveal of the incest.”
“We first tried that, when they kissed, he turned into a vampire, then a werewolf — we decided against it,” Zadan joked, dousing the flame Santos attempted to light.
Last October, MTV picked up Happyland , along with the comedy Faking It, to series with an eight-episode order. The two were MTV’s first scripted pilots greenlit by the network’s new-ish president Susanne Daniels and head of scripted Mina Lefevre. Happyland is written by Epstein and executive produced by Storyline’s Meron and Zadan; the pilot, directed by Lee Toland Krieger, starred Santos, Zulay Henao (later replaced by Camille Guaty), Shane Harper, Katherine McNamara, Cameron Moulene, Brady Smith and Ryan Rottman.