There’s a lot to love about Timeless, there always has been. But one of our favorite things has always been Lucy Preston – nay, all the female characters, and how Timeless has shown us you can write for a female lead, and you can write well-developed female characters whose lives don’t revolve around a romantic relationship.
A lot of it comes from a diverse writers room – hey, TV shows of the world, pay attention – and a lot of it comes from the changing times and, of course, a protagonist that was always interested in making Lucy just what she is, a role model for little girls.
We had a chance to talk to Arika Lisanne Mittman and Lauren Greer, the writers who penned the Timeless two-hour movie even, about Lucy, what they tried to do with her character, achieving that elusive OTP, and, of course, how this show is all about family.
Starting with Lucy, who is the kind of character I wish TV had given me growing up, the kind of hero that solves problems with her brain, and her heart. Lauren Greer and I bonded over this particular subject, as she shared that, “Growing up, female characters were always the ones on the sidelines, someone’s girlfriend or sister or wife — never the ones calling the shots,” and she’d always felt, like me, that something was missing. “Enter, Lucy Preston. She’s smart, witty, isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, and her main drive isn’t to be a love interest…but to SAVE THE WORLD.”
Pause there for a second. Read that again. Then let it wash over you.
“When the Mothership jumps, the Time team turns to Lucy for answers,” Lauren continued, as she tried to explain what made Lucy so special, and what has made writing for her such a joy. “That’s the kind of role model we need. Lucy makes brave, bold, tough decisions every single episode — and always puts the team and the world first. That’s what a shero does.”
And that’s what Lucy is, for us Timeless fans. First and foremost, no matter what other aspect of the show you might enjoy, we all love Lucy Preston, and for us she’s a hero.
Plus, she’s an inspiration. Like Lauren shared, “Like Lucy, I love history and therefore love researching for this show. While researching these episodes, I couldn’t help but get excited by how Lucy would bring history and its characters to life.”
See, this show is magic, it got not just us – the viewers – excited to learn history, it got the writers excited to research history!
Lauren put it best, “Lucy helps us learn every single day.”
Just saying, we’d love to keep learning. Anyone out there interested in that sort of thing?
But back to the movie event, let’s not get sidetracked. We can talk future in our next installment of this epic interview series. For now, I asked Arika about the message of these two episodes, and really, the subtle backbone of the show through its entire run: family, and she confirmed, “That theme is a big part of the series; both season 1 and season 2, and definitely is at the heart of this movie.”
I have a feeling she doesn’t just mean blood family, too, but found family. That’s what our bunker family is, after all.
Let me just cry here in silence for a bit.
Of course, we had to get to the matter of ships at some point, and though Arika pointed out that this entire cast has a lot of chemistry with each other, which makes it easy to see why people are so passionate about whatever ship they’ve chosen to root for, she had this to say about my question of whether Lyatt was the thing they’d chosen to set up from the Pilot. “I wasn’t there when Shawn and Eric wrote the pilot, but I think it was certainly clear that the intent was to set up an attraction there — but they had no way of knowing then how well the chemistry would click between the actors.”
And then, they struck gold.
“I think whenever you set up a romance you hold your breath and hope it’s there — and in this case, we were very, very lucky to have two such dynamic actors work so well together. I love their romance!” Arika said, not before adding, “I wish I could credit it all to the writing, but I think a lot of the credit goes to the actors and the chemistry they have with each other.”
So do I, and though I know not everyone will agree with me, which hey, valid, opinions are opinions and if we all agreed, that would be a very boring world, it is clear the setup for this show, from the get go, was banking on people being invested in Lucy and Wyatt as a couple.
Which, honestly, I could have told you that from the first Jessica mention. We all saw it coming a mile away.
As we talked chemistry, though, it became obvious that the writers understood that tastes are subjective, people can like whatever they like, and that doing that doesn’t always translate to people just wanting to be contrary, because there’s a lot going into what we identify with. It really is, in my opinion, a measure of good writing when you get to a point where people love these characters enough to argue about what they deserve, and who they deserve to be with.
God, I sound like such a fandom oldie.
When diving into the Lyatt storyline in Season Two, Arika shared that they “tried to write the Lucy/Wyatt story as honestly as possible. Some people were angry with Wyatt over what happened in Season 2 and while I can understand that, we felt like everyone was dealing with the crazy situation they were in as honestly as possible.”
Yeah, ex-wife comes back from the dead isn’t exactly a situation where there’s a blueprint to follow. We’re kind of in new territory here, and it was bound to get messy, for everyone involved.
Though I still could have done without the soap opera elements to it. *cough* surprise baby *cough*
“Lucy was the grown up who told Wyatt to go back to his wife.” Arika continued, “Wyatt tried to make his marriage work, despite having fallen in love with someone else, and that’s being a grown-up, too. His frustration with the situation came through at times, and I think that’s honest and real.”
We didn’t always love this storyline, but we will say that, in the end, no one wants perfect characters, we just want characters who grow, and, of course, characters who inspire us.
This brings us, once again, back to Lucy, of whom Arika shared, “Abigail often says that she was drawn to the character of Lucy because she doesn’t lead with her sexuality and I think that’s a hundred percent true. We don’t write her that way. We don’t think of her as a “female” character, we think of her as a character, who happens to be female. I think you can be feminine, as Lucy definitely is, and be heroic, and strong and brave and tough.”
I need to make a memo of this and send it to just about every male showrunner in the known universe. It sounds so simple, and yet, so few get it.
Arika does, though, because she went on to say, “I think too often, women are written as “wives” and “moms” and sex objects — and when they’re not, they’re written like men with vaginas.”
And yes, I did publish that, Arika. We’re all for the truth tea here, and this is some powerful stuff.
“What I mean by that is, they think they have to strip women of their femininity to make them tough or badass. I love writing for Lucy because I think she’s both feminine and badass.”
NEWFSLASH: YOU CAN BE BOTH. Women can be many things. We aren’t just the stereotypes you make us out to be.
And, even when we are in relationships, they don’t define us. We’re still us.
To this, Arika had to say, “In terms of her romantic relationships, I have always strived to write her as a grownup, and keep her approach to relationships, real, honest and nuanced. She falls in love, she gets hurt, she reacts emotionally — but she doesn’t let it interfere with her work. That’s being an adult, a grown up woman.”
Hell yes. And it doesn’t make it any less of a role model.
The Timeless two-hour movie event airs Thursday December 20th at 8/7c on NBC.