INTERVIEW: ‘Runaways’ EPs Talk Changes in Season 2

Now that Runaways Season Two has dropped on Hulu, fans can spend the holidays with their favorite super-powered teenagers and their somewhat evil parents. In preparation for this journey, Executive Producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage chatted about their approach to the show and just how to handle the complex story of adults doing the worst things while thinking it’s for “the best.”

Parents: they kill because they care.

Those who have read the original Runaways run know that the parents are mostly there to be antagonists, and that their belated motivations can’t make up for the actions they’ve committed. The showrunners circumvented that by not only explaining their reasoning early on, but also giving them moments of doubt over their choices and more importantly genuine concern for their children. Schwartz addressed the fine line between loving and hating the parents, saying that they “wanted to dirty their hands up at the beginning of Season 2 to remind the audience” of who they were dealing with but that the parents also needed to be nuanced characters in order to make things “messier and harder for the kids.” He added that “if you were invested in them as families, that would make their journey more complicated and make their struggles more interesting.”

Schwartz also made a parallel to parents in real life, explaining that they often act on behalf of their children whether or not said offspring agree on the methods, “Even the ones who aren’t killing people but just are parenting in different ways or that are doing things that their kids don’t necessarily like or don’t have the full context for why they’re doing what they’re doing. So to us it just made for a richer, more interesting, more layered story if the parents weren’t all bad.”

Since the second season of Runaways was given more episodes than the first, Schwartz acknowledged that there should be a lot more payoff for the investment viewers made in the previous. Not only that, but there would be more focus on the kids themselves. “Because the Runaways are now living in this new environment and encountering new characters, the weight of the storytelling does lean more towards [them].” In that same vein, Savage added that the way they approached stories for teenagers was different now than when they worked on shows like The O.C. and Gossip Girl as well. “I think literally it’s changed in terms of talking to our actors, where when we first started working we were much closer to the age of our actors,” she joked.

Diversity is more than a buzzword.

But she made a more serious point about the generational shift, saying that “young people have changed, especially in the last couple of years in terms of their social awareness, their activism, their feeling empowered and taking stands on things. That’s something that certainly wasn’t the case when we were young, it wasn’t the case even when we started telling stories about young people. And in the show we try to reflect that, and a lot of that comes from conversations that we have with our young cast.” One character that certainly reflects this new awareness is Gert, whose activism remains at the forefront of her development in Season 2. Schwartz pointed to the specific instance of her wrestling with a lack of anxiety meds and “Ariela really having an opinion about that and wanting to be fearless in tackling that.”

That shift in priorities for has led to Runaways being praised for its diversity, which Schwartz credited as already being an essential component of Brian K. Vaughan’s comic run. But he and Savage worked to expand on some plot points, such as the Karolina and Nico relationship. “[It] wasn’t really explored in the initial run of the comics [but] was something that we obviously leaned into much more quickly and very continually do this year.” He also pointed out the second season contains even more diverse and inclusive characters in its storytelling, both as a conscious choice on the part of the showrunners and as an homage to Vaughan and Alphona’s source material.

The first two seasons of Runaways are currently available on Hulu.