In the writing process for the new Mrs. Hawking show Fallen Women, I joke as we were struggling to settle on a title that it’s The One Where the Chickens Come Home to Roost.
Mrs. Hawking’s is a story we’ve been telling for a number of years now, and in that time our heroes have been dealing with all kinds of struggles, both plot- and character-driven, both internal and external. Like real people, they have worked to find ways to get along with one another even throughout some fairly serious conflicts. But unresolved tensions can build up over the course of years, and we’ve put these folks through the ringer in the last few. With Fallen Women, I wanted to show real consequences to those experiences, to the story, the characters, and their relationships. Because these experiences mattered, it means our heroes cannot go on unchanged.
Consequences, I would argue, are the essence of drama. When the characters’ choices and actions have profound impacts, that gives them a weight and significance to the storytelling. It can be scary, committing to a major shifting of your narrative’s status quo. A challenge built into serialized storytelling is to establish something of a dynamic equilibrium, where you maintain the premise that draws people to the story in the first place while still allowing the characters real growth and change over time. I think there can be a fear of changing anything too much, for fear of losing the good things about your story. But without it, the narrative stagnates and the events lose significance instead.
So Fallen Women is all about these long-in-coming consequences. The lingering effects of trauma. The strain put on relationships. The explosion of problems left unresolved for way too long. They weren’t always easy to write about. We’ve come to love these characters over the years, and it can be hard to put them through things this difficult. But we believe the meaning of their stories will be greater if the consequences they go through have serious, lasting impact on their lives— even when those impacts are sad ones.
Catch Mrs. Hawking in MRS. FROST and the all-new FALLEN WOMEN this January at Arisia 2020 in Boston, MA