Two years after the shocking cancellation of “GLOW,” showrunners Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch have returned for another show about the struggles women face every day — “Roar.” The Apple TV+ anthology series tells a new story with each episode, centering on a woman or girl as she deals with societal expectations, often with a dark twist of magical realism. The stories of “Roar” come from Cecelia Ahern‘s short story collection of the same name, to which both Flahive and Mensch found themselves drawn. “The thing that really drew us in were just how sticky the ideas and images were,” says Flahive in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. Watch the video chat above.
Mensch reveals that the first of Ahern’s stories that stood out to them was “The Woman Who Found Bite Marks on Her Skin,” a tale of a working mother who grapples with the sudden appearance of mysterious marks after the birth of her baby. That story, which ultimately stars Cynthia Erivo, felt personal to them, she adds, “as working moms juggling loads of maternal guilt with ambition.” From there, they allowed their fellow writers, Janine Nabers, Halley Feiffer and Vera Santamaria, to pick out their own stories to adapt, and each of them found one that neither Flahive nor Mensch had considered previously: “The Woman Who Disappeared,” “The Woman Who Was Fed by a Duck” and “The Woman Who Returned Her Husband.”
It was important to the showrunners to not necessarily discuss each episode in the context of the surreal twist that gives it its title so much as the emotional core. A prime example is “The Woman Who Was Fed by a Duck,” starring Merritt Wever as a medical student who gets into a relationship with a duck who turns out to be abusive. “As much as it’s a juicy logline, it is a story about an emotionally toxic relationship,” explains Flahive, who directed the episode. “That was always how we addressed it, in rehearsal, in conversation, as we were filming.” Adds Mensch, “Strange for strange’s sake is never what we want.”
The creators are already thinking about other stories from Ahern’s collection to adapt if renewed. Mensch isn’t quite ready to reveal exactly what they are, but Flahive is optimistic about what’s possible with this first season in the can. “Now that it exists, and we see how far some of them could go, it’d be interesting to see what other writers and directors, how they would elevate and escalate another season of this show. It would be really cool.”
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