INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim isn’t afraid to take chances. Sitting through its shows, you might alternately laugh, flinch and scratch your head. The late-night programming block offers several series, both animated and live-action, that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else, which is why The Heart, She Holler seems rights at home there.
Described as “Southern Gothic drama” and “an inside-out blend of soap opera and politically incorrect surrealist comedy,” the show is about the newly discovered son of the Heartshe dynasty, Hurlan, who comes to power after his father passes away. His two sisters Hurshe and Hambrosia conspire to bring Hurlan down and take his place as the main power-player of the town.
Producers John Lee and Alyson Levy, the team behind Wonder Showzen, came to Comic-Con International to talk about the upcoming second season. They were joined by stars Patton Oswalt, Amy Sedaris and Heather Lawless. They began their presentation by promising more in the new season. More of what, you ask? Everything, it seems.
To begin with, while the first season contained just six episodes, the second season will have 14. Next, Oswalt promised more in the way of “body horror.” “There are scenes in here that would make Cronenberg go, ‘Uh, yeah guys, I don’t know,’” the actor said.
Lee added, “That’s our goal: to make Cronenberg cry and Lynch vomit.”
As for where the idea for this surreal comedy came from, Lee explained, “We wanted to create a show that was about how stupidity and ignorance breeds magic, and how magic can come to life.” Oswalt said he had never heard that explanation of the show, but wholeheartedly agreed with it.
Because the show’s humor is a bit off-kilter, it can be something of a trick to tell whether a joke is working. Oswalt admitted that’s made even more of a challenge by the episodes being shot out of order. “We shoot by location, so sometimes we’re shooting for five different episodes in a day,” Lee explained. Oswalt mentioned he’s often surprised by the final footage, although pleasantly so.
With its unique sensibilities, one might wonder how a show like The Heart, She Holler is pitched to a network. It would be a challenge to describe the show’s plot and characters in a handful of sentences and do them justice, so Lee didn’t even try. As a picture is worth a thousand words, that’s what he used.
“We made a very strange drawing of four family trees,” he said. “Each family had a name and they all intertwine … and they become these kind of guts because it’s this incestual family tree and so it all becomes one kinda thing with their names on it. And that’s what we sent to Adult Swim. And if you get something like that, you gotta call back.”
Apparently, the network understood what Lee and Levy were trying to do. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said of Lawless. She explained that she didn’t really get the show at first, and added, “I still don’t really understand it, but I feel like most of [the actors] feel a little flavor of that, so that really makes it fun. I can’t describe it and I don’t know exactly what I’m doing, but it’s pretty exciting.”
Sedaris is a latecomer to the cast, as she’s replacing actress Kristen Schaal who had to leave because of a scheduling conflict. Sedaris said she’s been encouraged to “do her own thing” and not worry about imitating Schaal. Sedaris especially liked that she was allowed to take liberties with her character’s accent.
Being on a show with its own unique brand of humor is familiar to Sedaris, who co-created and starred in Strangers with Candy. According to the actress, both series “feel like you’re out in the woods and there aren’t any grown-ups around … and that’s the kind of show I like to do.”
The Heart, She Holler will return in September to Adult Swim, and Lee indicated the network will be airing the series like a true soap opera, with one episode each night for the entire month. “We’re going to run the month of September!” the producer announced.
Adult Swim viewers, consider yourselves warned.