Why did you double down on the character relationships this season?
Ballinger: For Season 1 we focused on Miranda's rise to fame and her obsession with fame. But when the series came out last year, we noticed that fans were really excited about the relationships between Miranda and Patrick, [and] between Bethany and her love interest, Keith. So when we started writing Season 2, we were looking at the things the fans loved and one of the biggest was the Miranda-Patrick storyline. Also, I had been wanting Bethany and Uncle Jim to date since before we wrote Season 1 -- we just didn't have enough room to squeeze it in there.
That was a surprise. I couldn't remember, at first, how Uncle Jim was related to Miranda.
Ballinger: It was something we didn't reveal [until Season 2] -- we never really said how Uncle Jim was related. I think people assumed Bethany and Jim were brother and sister. I've said a few times in my [YouTube] videos that they're not related that way, but people didn't really catch on. So when they first started dating in Season 2, the reaction was like, Wait, I'm so confused! What is going on?
It was a fun twist because it meant we got to meet Miranda's awful dad, played by Matt Besser, who is great at playing awful. That final scene, especially, is so hard to watch.
Ballinger: He was great. I love him so much as a comedian, and I look up to him so much. It was important to me to find someone who could improv with us on set. A lot of times he goes to a pretty crude place, which we loved on set and was so funny, but we wanted to make sure that kids could watch the show, too. So some of his improv didn't make it in just because it was crude and crass, but it was hilarious -- I wish we could show another version of the show.
For his audition, he did the scene where he yells at Miranda. The first time he did it, he did it funny -- it was great, it made us laugh. But the producers were like, OK, now we want to see you be really mean. And he was like, Oh, you want me to be mean?! And we were like, Yeah, be really, really mean. Then he was so mean he made me tear up.
Where did the idea for his character come from?
Ballinger: Miranda's dad has changed a lot in my head over the years -- all these characters have lived in my brain for the past decade. Originally, Miranda's dad was just kind of quiet and didn't participate a lot in her life. But when we knew we wanted to bring Miranda's dad in, I wanted to pull from real experiences and things and emotions that I have felt that people would relate to. I think we've all known someone who isn't a nice person and tries to bring other people down.
It's interesting he comes from what sounds like such a grounded place because a lot of the characters feel so --
But then the show is anchored by these very realistic, relatable moments. How do you achieve that balance without making the show feel like it's all over the place, tonally?
Ballinger: When we started writing it we were like, You know, these characters are insane -- Miranda has lipstick all over her face -- so my fans are going to watch it and hopefully will enjoy it, but how are we gonna get a new audience in and how are we gonna get people to watch for more than three minutes? How do you get someone to watch for a whole episode, let alone eight episodes?
The answer: to make them relatable somehow. The way to do that is to pull from real experiences. Something we say in the writers' room is write what you know. So a lot of the time we're just talking about our lives and seeing what we think could fit in the story. I talk a lot about my life and my childhood when I'm in the writers' room. And I talk about how it was for me when I first started out as Miranda -- every episode is based on something that actually happened to me in my career, and the relationships are based on situations I've been in.