‘Dear Edward’ Creator Jason Katims Talks Finale Episode & Plans For Potential Season 2

SPOILER ALERT! This post contains details from the season finale of Apple TV+’s Dear Edward.

Grief isn’t linear, and it doesn’t have a time limit either.

While Season 1 of the Apple TV+ series Dear Edward — which tells the story of a grief group that brings together the loved ones of the passengers of a fatal plane crash — has come to an end, creator Jason Katims tells Deadline that he’s only scratched the surface of the stories that he wants to tell with these characters. The series has not officially been renewed for a second season, though Katims is waiting patiently for the call.

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“There’s 15 or 16 main characters in the show, but there are 180 people on that flight. And aside from those 180, there are all the people whose lives have been touched by that,” he said, adding: “There’s lots of stories left to tell here.”

Katims is also the creator of Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, both of which are known for their large ensemble casts. So, it should come as no surprise that he has endless ideas for expanding upon the lives of the characters in his latest story.

“The sum is greater than the parts. There’s something about when it’s working well, the cutting from one storyline to another, even if those storylines aren’t connected by actual plot or story. It’s like they’re connected in this other way, that sort of thematic way,” he said.

Katims spoke with Deadline about how he envisioned the series beyond its source material and found the perfect lead, as well as his hopes for Season 2.

DEADLINE: There’s plenty of characters and stories in the series that didn’t exist in the book. When you’re adapting it, how do you build out the story beyond what’s on the page?

JASON KATIMS: When I read the book, I was so moved by it. I feel like a lot of books now are written almost for an adaptation. This was so literary. I wasn’t sure immediately what the show was. It wasn’t written in that way. I felt very emotionally connected to and very taken by the story that [Ann Napalitano] was telling, and really wanted to make it into a show. So I talked to her about it, and she gave me the license to do things I felt needed to be done to make it into a show. That’s when the idea of the grief group came up, which wasn’t really something that was part of the book. I felt like all these characters needed to connect and meet each other and know each other and be affected by each other. That’s what would make it a show beyond just the core story of Edward and his aunt and uncle… Then I started to think about who would be in that grief group. I grew up in New York, and I love that in New York, there’s the idea that there’s just so many different people having different lives that are constantly kind of thrown together in the same sort of geographical space. I liked the idea of all these people who never would have met — they wouldn’t have really have had anything to do with each other — who have wind up having this sort of profound connection over this thing that was very tragic in their lives. I thought that connection that came from this is actually what would make the show feel full of life and hopeful. 

DEADLINE: You certainly gravitate toward big ensembles in your stories, whether it’s in New York City like Dear Edward or small town Texas, like Friday Night Lights. What appeals to you about writing for such a large cast of characters?

KATIMS: I remember the experience of doing Friday Night Lights and then Parenthood, and it’s not like I started out saying I want to do big ensembles, but I just loved doing them. The sum is greater than the parts. There’s something about when it’s working well, the cutting from one storyline to another, even if those storylines aren’t connected by actual plot or story, it’s like they’re connected in this other way, that sort of thematic way. I just love the idea that there’s many different ways to come at it. There’s many different entry points, and you could be watching the show and connect to any number of characters in the show. I just love watching people navigate the world trying to find connection. I mean, those are the kinds of stories that I’m drawn to, and so the big ensemble is a great way to tell those stories.

DEADLINE: Do you ever find yourself infusing parts of one character from a past show into characters from another show? 

KATIM: Not really. I mean, I do love to work with the same actors, and that’s been a great joy to me. Like, working with Connie [Britton] on this show has been such a thrill because we hadn’t worked together since Friday Night Lights and we jumped in and we immediately had the shorthand as if no time had passed. The other thing that was so fun about it was Dee Dee, the character that Connie is playing in Dear Edward, couldn’t be more different than Tami Taylor. There was something very freeing about that. We never had to say, ‘Is it too much like Tami or are we trying to capture the old magic?’ [We were] working together with the shorthand that we shared from Friday Night Lights in a very collaborative way, but doing it in a different show with a very different character…You’re always learning, so you learn things from one show, and you apply them later on. All the shows that I do, there’s different characters and they’re different worlds, but I think they do share something. I feel there’s connective tissue between the shows. Literally from the first show that I worked on, which was My So Called Life, I was a staff writer on the show. Ed Zwick, and Marshall Herskovits and Winnie Holzman, their whole approach was, ‘How little story can we tell?’ Because they really wanted to dig in and really look at the nuance of human relationships. That was what I learned from and that’s really been the type of storytelling that has been so appealing to me, because you really get to examine these human connections.

DEADLINE: Edward is dealing with a lot of complex emotional situations as a 12-year-old. When you were writing it, were you worried about finding a young actor who could carry that weight? And how did it feel when you found Colin?

KATIMS: Yes, I was absolutely worried about it. I mean, I’d be a fool not to be worried. We’re writing a character of a 12-year-old boy that has to carry the show on his shoulders. We’re also asking him to play this material that’s very challenging. Finding Colin was just the key to everything. He is an old soul. He was never overwhelmed. I mean, I’m sure inside he might have been, but he never seemed overwhelmed by what he was asked to undertake. He had a lot of support. It was just so beautiful to watch Taylor Schilling work with him and how much she would mentor him and teach him, [as did] all the actors and the directors. He was in a very safe place… It was like when I worked with My So Called Life, watching Claire Danes, where I’d always have to remind myself ‘Oh my god, she’s 15.’ Because she had such maturity from a very early age as an actress. I felt similarly with Colin, where he really thought about every story in every scene and what was going on. He would ask questions, and he wouldn’t ask questions like you would imagine a 12-year-old boy would ask questions. He would ask questions, and if he didn’t like the answers, he would ask them again. He’s a searcher. It was a beautiful thing to watch.

DEADLINE: Edward is certainly the main character, but as you’re expanding the story, how do you balance his narrative with the new stories you’re weaving in?

KATIMS: Well, I think of the show as a tapestry in a way. Everybody’s examining themselves, and maybe because something so bad, something so big has happened to all of them… it’s beyond grief. It’s like really just looking at your life and saying, ‘What is my life and am I on the right path?’ The thing that I was just very moved by was the notion that, [for example], this young woman would meet this guy from Ghana and they would become this little family together. Or this woman who had always thought she knew what her life was, and then suddenly, the whole thing blows up and she has to deal with that fact. There could have been a beautiful story just told just about Edward and his family. That’s definitely one way to tell the story, and maybe it would have been a beautiful movie to do the story that way. But I just like the idea that we’re telling many interconnected stories. It’s all about finding the balance. Sometimes it’s like conducting in a weird way. At some point you want to bring up this flavor and sometimes you bring the other instruments down. In some episodes, you’re building one storyline with Dee Dee or Adriana or Edward, and then as you come to some sort of mini resolution there, then another story picks up. You try to find that balance where, to the audience, it’s very seamless. 

DEADLINE: The finale ends with Edward discovering he may have another uncle. Can you explain that a little more and what it might mean for Edward to discover he has more family out there?

KATIMS: Introducing that idea was to tease the idea of what the second season will be or could be, if we get a second season. And the idea that to me is like, the process of what all these people are going through, it’s not something that ends after a few months or 10 episodes. It’s something that goes on. There’s 15 or 16 main characters in the show, but there are 180 people on that flight. And aside from those 180, there are all the people whose lives have been touched by that. And to me, that was what was suggested by that ending. Yes, there’s this one person, this very meaningful person that he discovers at the end of the season, but then there’s all of these letters and all these potentials for other stories. With each of those letters, there’s the potential for the show to continue to grow and expand. We want to continue to explore mainly the characters we’ve introduced in the first season, but it also gives us the room to expand beyond that. It was just a way of saying that the story is very much still alive. There’s lots of stories left to tell here.

DEADLINE: I found myself particularly struck by Adriana and Kojo. Their ending is a bittersweet one, and I’m eventually hoping they find their way back to each other.

KATIMS: It’s sort of a sad ending. But now she’s a Congresswoman. I feel the same way. You write these things and then when you start to have these wonderful actors embody these characters, and you see the connection between them and you see the spark between them when they do scenes. As a viewer, I feel the same way. Like ‘Don’t go to Ghana!’ It’s a good writer’s problem to have in the second season to find ways for their paths to cross again.

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