One of the most exciting, funny and unique Canadian shows is back with The Lake Season 2 on Prime Video, starring Jordan Gavaris, Julia Stiles and Madison Shamoun.
The Lake, from showrunner Julian Doucet, wastes absolutely no time getting into the chaotic, hysterical mess that we loved in Season 1 of the show.
The season begins with a romantic moment between Justin (Gavaris) and Riley (Travis Nelson) spending some intimate time together at the lake, when Riley makes the move to propose.
While Justin is seemingly living the happy life his stepsister Maisy-May (Stiles) is just trying to stay sane with her mother Mimsy (Lauren Holly) living in her family's lake house. But Mimsy keeps driving Maisy-May crazy.
When Justin's daughter Billie (Shamoun) arrives to spend some time with her dad, they all have a family dinner when Justin and Riley announce they're getting married. Mimsy instantly wants to help organize, along with Maisy-May's child Opal (Declan Whaley), while Billie is a bit concerned about how quickly this is happening.
But all seemingly good things have their issues, and in this case it's a pretty big one. Justin ends up running out of the ceremony, uncertain that he really wants to be married. On top of that, a set a fireworks that mysteriously appeared inside the boat house, where the ceremony was happening, go off and the boathouse is burned to the ground.
Justin then takes it upon himself to not only repair his relationship with Riley, but figure out who brought the fireworks into the boathouse.
“Basically from the end of the first episode until the last one, Justin is at 10, spinning a million plates at once," Gavaris told Yahoo Canada. "Unraveling this mystery, trying to repair his relationship with Riley, badly, trying to deepen his relationship with Billie and make sure she doesn't blow up her life. All the while, trying to avoid Mimsy's insanity."
“I think the mystery is just the coolest part because it's special when a show does something unexpected, something that could go really badly, if it's not handled well. But thankfully it was and we have incredible writers, and to turn the second season into a bit of a whodunit was just tops for me. Also, because … I love Murder She Wrote. So this was me doing my best Angela Lansbury.”
'The writers took it up a notch'
For Season 1, Stiles' Maisy-May was often described as an irredeemably terrible person, but now we find out where some of those traits come from as we get to know her mother Mimsy.
“The writers took it up a notch,” Stiles said. “[Maisy-May] was established as this character who's competitive and will stop at nothing to win, [but] her mother's presence just completely rattles her.”
“Also, the presence of her mother kind of makes her act like a child again, or a teenager having temper tantrums. … From the get go, the littlest thing upsets her.”
That also leads to one of the funniest moments in the first few episodes, where Maisy-May turns into "Crazy May," after she's told she's not funny.
"She's determined to prove that she's funny by getting aggressively drunk and acting like an idiot, and that was just Episode 3. I got to do so many ridiculous things," Stiles teased.
“It was such a fun day for me because I had to turn my brain off. ... The way that [Julian Doucet] writes, it's so fast that you're just sort of along for the ride. It was a lot of fun for me and it's all kind of a blur, because as I said, I had to turn my brain off and not second guess anything.”
Julia Stiles on romantic comedies: 'The hamburger that we all were craving'
Much of the romanic aspect of the narrative at the outset of the season is centred around Justin and Riley's relationship, but let's never forget that Stiles in a rom-com icon, primarily for her lead role in 1999's 10 Things I Hate About You.
With The Lake Season 2 having some real rom-com elements, Stiles said one of the keys to a great, lasting rom-com is that it's still in touch with reality.
“I feel like there's a formula to romantic comedies, that it's almost the hamburger that we all were craving,” Stiles explained. “A good romantic comedy, or a romantic comedy that lasts in people's minds and hearts for a long time, is one where the characters are grounded in some sort of reality.”
Gavaris highlighted that it was interesting as an actor to juggle the differences in tone throughout the season. Going from sort of wacky silliness to more dramatic, emotional or even loving moments.
He also highlighted that it was great to see this relationship between these two men, Justin and Riley, that wasn't about trauma.
“I was never short of conflict to resolve or chaos to step into, but it was very fun to get the sweetness with Riley and Justin,” Gavaris said. “It was nice to see a queer relationship on screen for Season 1 that wasn't about trauma, and it's still not about trauma.”
“The conflict that they're facing is something that lots of couples deal with outside of just being queer. A lot of couples struggle to commit. A lot of people have intimacy issues. A lot of people don't know why they're afraid to step into a life that otherwise looks pretty great, or be with a partner that is otherwise everything you want them to be. That was really fun for me to get to kind of take more of a … universal problem and give it to Justin, and give it to these two people to try and work out.”
'Canadian film and TV was trying to be like it's big brother, America'
Last year, with the release of Season 1 of The Lake, Gavaris spoke to Yahoo Canada about the assumption that we sometimes make in Canada that our TV and films won't stand up to what's coming out of the U.S.
Speaking about the success of Season 1, leading to Season 2, Gavaris stressed his pride in working on The Lake and how a show like this really positively adds to homegrown entertainment.
“I hope that people like it as much as I do because I am stupidly proud of this show, like really unbelievably proud of it and proud to be in any way associated with something that I think advances Canadian film culture forward,” Gavaris said.
“The wheels have been turning. There are some amazing shows that have hit the airs in the last few years, Orphan Black being one of them, that I think proved we can … tell a really good story, and The Lake definitely keeps the momentum going.”
From Stiles' perspective, she thinks Canadians who believe our content is weaker than, or not as compelling as TV and films from the U.S. need to "get over that."
“I grew up on so many Canadian shows," she said.
“I think for a long time, the biggest problem is that Canadian film and TV was trying to be like its big brother, America, that had money and the kind of prestige we maybe didn't have access to, money in particular,” Gavaris added. “I think that Canada's just sort of working out who it is and what our voice sounds like when it's not trying to be something else.”
“That’s what I'm excited about for the future of Canadian film and TV is, who do we sound like, singularly, on our own, when we're not trying to be the United States? ... The more we do that I think the better the shows are going to get, and the better the movies are going to get. That's what I think is so cool about The Lake, it is uniquely itself and singularly Canadian.”