Tony, you mentioned you wanted the crime to be darker, but I also think the season is more serious as it looks at class, race, and the makeup of this school. Can you talk about that?
Yacenda: I think that comes from analyzing two suspects this season who are at the opposite ends of the social hierarchy, and by the end of the season realizing they have a lot of the same insecurities and vulnerabilities. The idea was there's nobody I think in high school who is lauded as more of a king than a blue-chip basketball recruit, like Zion Williamson. St. Bernardine is a LeBron James-esque Catholic school that recruits and kind of tokenizes these people and treats them like kings, but potentially that has to be super isolating. LeBron talked about that in his show, The Shop.
Melvin and I had long conversations about how you can be the man and be the king but at the end of the day you're a 17-year-old kid like anybody else. So to be able to look at who is the turd burglar... we are analyzing whether or not [Kevin]'s bullied and hates the school enough to do this at the bottom, and somebody who is at the top -- finding the similarities between the two is what was at the core of this season.
Dan Lagana: And also it was important just exploring stories of isolation. Anyone that's had a high school experience can remember feeling isolated at some point. It doesn't matter who you are, you've experienced that. And to be able to tell that story from two opposite sides of the spectrum was really compelling to us.
People immediately identify with Kevin McClain. He's a type that people know in the same way Dylan Maxwell was.
Dan Perrault: One thing we often say is everyone had their own version of a Kevin. They come in many different forms, but I think that type of person existed long before we were here. That is someone [who] didn't fit in, so they intentionally created a character that appeared to desire not to fit in. Like Dylan Maxwell, I think the one similarity is they're standouts in their school where people would categorize them and laugh at them without realizing there are deeper insecurities underneath that.
Yacenda: I think it's a little more nuanced than Dylan. When we talked about our Dylan Maxwells in the writers' room -- because we all had our Dylan Maxwells -- they were all similar. But when we talked about our Kevin McClains in Season 2, they were all coming from the same place, but everyone's Kevin McClain was so different. Kevin McClain is so different than the person in my school that I was drawing from, but I think that's the honest version of it because it needs to be so specific.
Were the specificities of this Kevin -- the hats, the accent, the tea drinking -- drawn from people's own Kevins?
Lagana: Yes. Our Kevin McClain is such a collection of ideas that we thought were funny. Some were generated when Tony and Dan were doing their initial thinking on the project, and then other things were thrown into the stew in the room. We scour Reddit. We read iamverysmart. We laugh about stuff like that, and a lot of it influences decisions we make for the character.
Perrault: And it's not hard to find these kind of kids who have taken this route in their own social life. I don't want to name the kids that we drew from on social media because they probably got a ton of shit already, unfortunately. But the type of people who take this route to make themselves a commodity because they don't feel like anyone genuinely cares about them. They are the ones that tend to have videos made of them, that turn a camera in their face, that make them an anti-star that they've chosen to be because they couldn't be a genuinely liked person. So it was not hard to find these people online.