EXCLUSIVE: Breeders writer Simon Blackwell has revealed that work is underway on Season 3 of FX and Sky’s parenthood comedy — and a physical writers room has been set up for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe.
In an interview with Deadline, Blackwell spoke with relief to be back among colleagues, such as co-creator Chris Addison, instead of having to collaborate over Zoom. Though Season 3 of the Avalon-produced Martin Freeman and Daisy Haggard series has not been formally renewed, they are working up new ideas should FX and Sky signal the green light.
“We really wanted to get a physical room together because there is just that element missing on Zoom. You can feel the vibe of the project and that’s harder to get when you’re all remotely starring down the barrel of your laptop,” said Blackwell.
“There is something to be said to be for real-life,” he joked. “It allows you silences, which are essential in writers rooms. People just sitting there thinking. We’ve done two, three-day weeks, and as much as I love my family, it’s nice to hang out with other people.”
Blackwell was coy about potential Season 3 storylines after Season 2 (which premieres on Sky next month) flashes forward in time, with Paul and Ally’s children having grown up since the first season. He said the time hop helped freshen up the show, but was keeping his “powder dry” on whether a similar device will be used on Season 3.
“It was like, let’s make it difficult for ourselves because that’s often where the best stuff comes from, when you try and make it a bit tricky,” he explained. “If there were a Season 3, we would want to make it as distinctive and as ambitious as the first two. So there would be some different stuff going on.”
Blackwell, who worked on Emmy-winning HBO series Veep alongside Armando Iannucci, is known for honing his scripts right up until the last minute, working with actors to fine-tune scenes so they deliver maximum comedy clout. This process has been stifled by coronavirus after Season 2 was shot entirely during the pandemic, he added.
“There would have been different lines in there, there would have been little extra things in there. Who knows what they would have been, but if you’re on set, you’re always tucking in a line or thinking about alternatives,” continued Blackwell. “That’s a privilege we had to give up and I missed it because it’s nice to throw that stuff in and have a dialog with the actor.”
The past couple of years have been the busiest of Blackwell’s career as he has juggled Breeders with Searchlight movie The Personal History of David Copperfield; Season 2 of Channel 4/AMC Networks comedy Back; and writing on and executive producing Iannucci’s Avenue 5, which is set for a second season at HBO.
“I’ve never been busier,” he said, before quickly making clear that he’s keen to lighten the load over the coming months. “I’m going to slow it down now and do one project at a time because it does drive you slightly mad doing a number of things. I’ve loved doing all of them, and the phrase is, it’s a good problem to have. It all worked out, by hook or by crook, so I’m here to tell the tale.”
He’s hoping Season 3 of Breeders can be that one project over the coming months, but other “interesting offers” are coming in. As for a third season of Back, the Big Talk comedy that stars Peep Show actors David Mitchell and Robert Webb, he’s “not heard anything is wanted at the minute.”
One thing he won’t countenance, however, is another political comedy following the success of Veep and its British forefather The Thick Of It. He explained: “It’s changed so much post-Brexit and post-[Donald] Trump, I wouldn’t be able to find the comedy.
“The comedy of Veep and The Thick Of It was based on the fact that there will be a facade of competence and then behind the facade, the madness of how it actually works. But when the facade falls away, and you can just see the light, like the front of a beehive falling down, I can’t trump Trump.”
“We used to agonize on Veep over certain things happening in a plot where we’d go, ‘That simply wouldn’t happen. The people around Selina wouldn’t allow that to happen. We’re talking about Washington here.’ And then Trump comes along.”
The 10-part second season of Breeders continues on FX on Monday nights.