Ashley Lyle interview: ‘Yellowjackets’ showrunner
“There were many, many times over the course of writing the first season that Bart [Nickerson] my husband and co-creator, and our showrunning partner [Jonathan Lisco] looked at each other and said, ‘Why did we do this?'” says Ashley Lyle about what an ambitious undertaking the Showtime thriller “Yellowjackets” turned out to be. We talked to Lyle as part of our 2022 panel of Writers Guild Award nominees. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Yellowjackets” is a complex series set during two different time periods. It tells the story of a high school girls’ soccer team who in 1996 become stranded in the Canadian wilderness for 19 months when their plane goes down on their way to a championship game. We also follow some of the survivors 25 years later when they become embroiled in a mystery connected to their past. “The real challenge was with this large of a cast,” Lyle explains. “What we would talk about a lot in the writer’s room was giving them all the dignity of a point of view. So we wanted to make sure that no matter how large or small a role that they played in this first season, that we were creating fully formed people.”
From there, mapping out the story with color-coding and lines drawn across a whiteboard “ended up looking like a crazy murder board … Then we would break the stories and card them and weave them all together. Really it comes down to instinct as a group as to if they are working well structurally with each other.” All that effort was rewarded with two WGA nominations for Lyle and her team: Best Drama Series and Best New Series. Oh, and also a second season renewal. “We do have a plan and we’ve talked about what each season would be,” she reveals. “And we do have an end point in mind, but of course when you get in the room and you have all these other brilliant writers … you have to be flexible enough to let better ideas prevail … Our goal is always to let the best idea win.”