Every so often, a moment pops out of the story, grabs you, and doesn't let go. A Perfect Ten is our love letter to moments in Solid 8 that we can't wait to tackle. Today, co-creator Magan Carrigan talks about defining the emotional stakes of the series.
I've been avoiding writing this for a minute now because (1) I really loved Taylor's Perfect 10 and it's a hard act to follow, and (2) I'm honestly not sure what it should be. But the deadline's coming up so here we are.
It's been hard to think of a single element of the show that I'm excited to tackle because I'm mostly just too paralyzed with fear and stress to imagine actually having fun with it one day. That's not to say the fun won't come- it definitely will. In October, we're going to have the time of our lives. But I can't really focus on the excitement or the fun because it's just not how I operate. In my life and career, I've never focused on what excites me- I've focused on what scares me. I seek out the things that seem too hard, too frightening, too impossible, and those are the things I pursue. So, I'll define A Perfect 10 on my terms. What am I most afraid of?
A lot of things really. But high on the list is probably episode 9, “Dylan and Ben Play a Board Game.” This episode is a special challenge because it has a huge emotional turn for Nicki, it sets up the season finale, and I had the special torture of writing the episode on my own. I only wrote two episodes by myself for this season, and those were two more episodes than I expected. Turns out, writing's hard. Finding a way to tell the story you want to tell without being self indulgent or too kind to yourself and characters (but not too hard either) is a delicate balance that I'm still learning how to grapple with. I'm proud of this episode because it was a trial figuring out how to make the stakes high enough in Nicki's journey while still maintaining the integrity of the story as a whole. I think I accomplished that.
The episode itself is going to be a tough one to sit through. Nicki and Dylan's friends from college, Gretchen and Ben, come to visit and, while essentially trapped in their apartment, Nicki and Gretchen are faced head on with a fracture in their friendship that has been ruminating for a long time. It's not comedy, but it is heartfelt and, hopefully, still funny at times. My actual best friend from college, Maggie Bausch, is playing Gretchen so I had to figure out where that line is between fiction and real life. This is a line that we're always playing with at Solid 8 because so much of it is based on me. We're often taking bits and pieces of my life, twisting them and turning them into fiction. Maggie and I are lucky enough to have open communication and support for each other so when we hit those hard patches after college, we moved through them together. So the question became, what if we didn't? What would happen? And that's where the story lives. So it's kind of real, kind of not. I worry about this a lot when thinking about the show. It scares me to put my life out there not because of me but because of the people in my life who are affected by my creating a show this way. I was often nervous to talk to Maggie about the script because of this. I still haven't told my mom what the episode with Nicki's mom is like because I don't want her to think I'm trying to say anything about our actual relationship. So why am I writing this way? I guess because there's only one perspective that I have, and I can only explore these feelings that are very personal to me through my own lens. I don't really know how to make stuff up. I can only use what I have to get to something bigger as best as I can. I'm very scared. But I hope I did get to something bigger. I think I did.