The Mick: How to Start A Second Season Right

The Mick writers talk about burning down the house and embracing darkness.

Editor’s note: The Fourth Wall is a recurring feature and a platform for creators, actors, and industry insiders to bring the readers behind the scenes of the production process. In our latest installment, we removed the curtain on the writers’ room for the second season of Fox’s, The Mick.

At first glance it may not look like The Mick reinvents the wheel. It’s a show where a renegade wild card gets thrown into a family and suddenly needs to be a role model. In fact, sitcoms often tank from that sort of by-the-numbers premise. The Mickembraces these hackneyed tropes and makes them feel exciting and new. It also manages to turn them into strengths. It mixes edgy with sweet in a way that’s easy to do, but hard to do right.   

In The Mick, Kaitlin Olson (Always Sunny) plays a derelict human who ends up in charge of her too-affluent estranged family. As the Pembertons cope with this new eyesore in their lives, Mickey simultaneously tries to assert control and reap the family’s benefits. The results are typically messy, unpredictable examples of human failure.

Over the course of its first season, The Mick leaned on strong writing, atypical storytelling, and an unbelievable cast of burgeoning performers that all helped this comedy turn out a surprisingly consistent debut season. Now, with the show’s second year underway, I touched base with the series’ creators and showrunners, Dave and John Chernin, who took me through a tour of the show’s sophomore season. Let’s break down the chaotic world of The Mick!

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The Mick Season 2 Episode 1 – “The Hotel” 

“Mickey and the kids are forced to downgrade from their temporary residence at a hotel after their financial advisor cuts them off due to excessive spending. Mickey and Sabrina refuse to accept the decision and launder up a plan to prevent anyone from stopping their stride. Meanwhile, Jimmy teaches Chip that the tricks to living in a luxurious hotel can be simple.”

Written by Dave Chernin & John Chernin; Directed by Richie Keen 

DEN OF GEEK: How did you guys approach the beginning of this season? Did you have a number of ideas at where things could be starting off?-

DAVE CHERNIN: We had no ideas except that we wanted them to end up in the burned down house by the end of episode one. We definitely knew we wanted them to live in the burned down house for a few episodes at the start of the season, but we also wanted to start our viewers in the world that they expect to see people on this show.

There were a number of bombshells that go down in the finale as well, such as the information that Chip isn’t Christopher’s biological son. Is that something you plan to dig into deeper this year? 

JOHN CHERNIN: Yes. Very much so. We are really excited to play around with that. 

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DAVE CHERNIN: We are writing the script right now where Chip finds out who his father is.

Something that I really love about the show is that in spite of this family going through such wear and tear, it feels like it sticks with them and there’s growth going on as a result. Do you plan to explore more of that this season and watch these characters develop even further? 

We go wherever the story takes us. We don’t set out with an idea of like “oh, let’s grow a character in this way,” we just kind of let things evolve naturally. I don’t think anyone expected Chip to be such a sympathetic character when we created this series, but Thomas Barbusca has portrayed him in such a way that it allows us to take it to that place and I think that is going to make that much more poignant.

Is there anything that you guys learned from the first season that you tried to put into practice this year?

JOHN CHERNIN: We always figure out what our actors are good at doing and sometimes they surprise us in ways that we enjoy writing to. It was a very pleasant revelation last year that Carla is a wonderful singer, so we enjoyed writing to that a couples times. But in regards to season two… it was our first time running a show last year and we were excited to try a lot of new things and we were hopeful that with some experience, doing big stunts last year that we can push ourselves in even bigger ways this season. We have a stunt coming up in our Halloween episode that is cooler than anything we have done so far and we really excited about that. 

This premiere gets away from the Pemberton house for the majority of the episode. Was mixing things up in this regard an intentional effort to try and challenge yourselves a little bit?

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JOHN CHERNIN: Certainly not. We don’t want to challenge ourselves anymore than we possibly have to. But I do think we are not afraid to go where the story takes us. We believe viewers are intelligent enough to keep up.

I love that this show is still as dark as ever, like in the resolution of Barry’s storyline. Was it important this season to maintain that blackness right from the start? 

DAVE CHERNIN: No. All we can do is write what is funny to us. We don’t try to be especially dark. John is just a twisted man…

Did you guys consider pushing things even further and having the Pembertons staying at the hotel for several episodes, or at least keeping them away from their home for longer? 

JOHN CHERNIN: We did. I don’t think we actively think about how we can push things but the thought crossed our mind of having these characters live in the hotel for an extended period of time or live somewhere new for an extended period of time.

Talk a little on these characters needing to ultimately live in a burned down, destroyed home this season. It’s an image that feels so emblematic of this show and the Pembertons.

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JOHN CHERNIN: Well I don’t know that they are going to live there for the entire season, but we felt that after everything they put Barry through he would be less inclined to help them and they would have no choice but to return to the charred remains of their former home if only temporarily. 

Our walkthrough of The Mick’s second season will continue next week.