It could be daunting, returning to write a second season of a television series that was an unexpected national and international hit.
But for Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola, sitting down to write the second season of Rosehaven was a welcome return to characters they so comfortably brought to the small screen last year.
Filmed in Tasmania’s south, and making the most of the unexpected comedy in small-town Tasmanian life, Rosehaven’s narrative hinges on the friendship between Daniel (McGregor) and Emma (Pacquola).
Last year there was no guarantee of a second season, McGregor said – but that’s allchanged, with the first season recently scoring three Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) award nominations.
“We waited quite late to start writing [the second season] because we wanted to get the confirmation from ABC before we did anything,” he said.
In season two the show’s characters have more room to breathe and develop – but after such a warm audience response, the challenge was not overthinking the next stage of the writing process.
McGregor said he and Pacquola didn’t think about the pressure too much but simply hoped that if they found something funny “other people would too”.
“We think about a trope or something we’ve seen in a TV show that we’ve liked and referenced and see if we can … put a twist on it,” McGregor said.
Rosehaven refuses to fall into stereotypes: rather than Emma being jealous or insecure about Daniel and Grace’s relationship, she befriends Grace (Katie Robertson) and helps them continue their relationship.
That refusal means storylines that appear predictable can take an unexpected left-turn, keeping characters well away from become one-note comedy zingers – and it was that lack of predictability that gave McGregor and Pacquola the drive to return.
“It was more a gut feeling of we’re not done yet, we’re not ready to say goodbye to these characters,” he said.
“It was weird, I’ve never had that before.”
Putting a twist on the narrative ranges from small scenes to overall themes – like the long-distance relationship between Dr Grace (Katie Robertson) and Daniel.
Grace and Daniel’s relationship in the second season is framed around awkward Skype calls, facilitated by a spreadsheet with conversation prompts, keeping Grace actively involved in the series rather than conveniently writing her out.
“If there’s a way we can do something that’s a bit different from what we’ve seen before, we’ll try,” McGregor said.
Rosehaven airs on ABC on Wednesdays at 9pm.