Last year, Apple TV+ premiered its first British series, ‘Trying,’ following a young couple in their 30s trying to conceive a baby, and then, deciding ultimately to begin the adoption process. Nikki (Esther Smith) and Jason (Rafe Spall) at the end of season 1 achieve what they’ve been working for over the course of the series: Getting approved by the adoption panel to begin the process. However, as you can see from the very last scene of the last episode in the first installment of the series, getting the approval doesn’t exactly poof all of their problems away.
Both actors say they were drawn to the show due to the originality and familiarity of the plot—something that can be hard to achieve on the big or small screen. Season 2 prolongs that idea and brings a sense of comedic elements to an intense situation—just like in life.
Both Smith and Spall sat down to discuss more on the journey we see unfold for their characters in ‘Trying’ season 2.
Season 1 ends on an interesting note, so what would you tell fans to expect for Nikki and Jason’s journey in season 2?
Smith: So, at the end of season 1, they’ve been approved by panel to adopt a kid—which is brilliant news for them and it’s what they wanted. But they’re not out of the woods yet. They still have to go through the process of being matched with a child and they realize that there is a lot of competition. There are so many more obstacles and hurtles that they need to jump. There’s a lot of heartbreak. They feel like at certain points they get attached to various children and it doesn’t work out and then they find a child that they really fall for and it’s not that easy. They realize they might have to deal with the huge potential of rejection [and] they might not get what they want. I think it’s really interesting to see how they cope and deal with that. They’re still comparing themselves to these other families that are also wanting to adopt kids, there’s a constant thing of feeling not good enough—but they are good enough and they’ve got so much to give a child. The whole process is still so difficult and I think we see how they deal with that in this series.
Going from season 1 to season 2, has your chemistry as an on-screen couple evolved even more because of the circumstances that you have to go through on the show?
Spall: I think that they’ve been through a pretty traumatic period in time with not being able to naturally conceive. Then they’ve gone through the arduous process of being approved for adoption, and now they need to be matched with a kid— those are all very traumatic things that can either tear you apart as a couple or being you together. I think in their case, it’s done the latter. It’s deepened their understanding of themselves personally and also as a couple. They’re rock solid, they know that if they can take this, then there’s not really much that can come between them. So, the relationship is even further solidified and I think their love for each other is very clear when you’re watching the show; their intimacy is familiar. For anyone who’s in a relationship, they watch that and go wow, we know what it’s like to sit in our bed after a night out and talk sh*t on our friends—that’s very identifiable, and it’s a very fun thing to play and hopefully to watch.
What about your own relationship with your characters? Has that grown through this show because of the realness of the subject?
Smith: I think as someone in her 30s, there’s not only the adoption theme, [but] a lot of it is about trying to figure out where you are and who you are within the world and going against all of these social constructs that we have and the pressure of that. That feels like something I can really relate too…Knowing that your life is not necessarily going to pan out how you planned it to pan out. They have to deal with that, and there’s something I find really comforting in playing someone who is similar. Her life hasn’t panned out in the way that she hoped. I think that’s something that is really relatable for a lot of people. With the adoption storyline, obviously, that’s a storyline that is very real for a lot of people [as well.] It’s really important that we show that with care and a deep understanding, and through doing this how, I feel like I understood that process a lot more and I feel very humbled to be able to tell that story. But I think for me, with the character of Nikki, it’s about trying to figure out who you are and I really relate to that.
Spall: You’re right, [there] is a difference between doing something like this or doing a genre film. This is the sort of the thing I like to watch—I’ve been in a few of those things and a few of those films, and isn’t necessarily the thing I like to tune into as a viewer. This is, because it’s reflective of my life. My experience of life is peppered with both comedy and drama and that’s the tone of the show. That’s really appealing, to be in a show that you would actually watch… because that doesn’t always happen.
Why do you think audiences enjoy that combination of humor and drama when watching ‘Trying,’ especially in season 2?
Spall: I just think that it’s identifiable. I think that it’s a very human way of coping—to make light of a situation and to find moments of levity and comedy in even the darkest of circumstances. It’s not always the easiest thing to depict onscreen, so you need a few things to be able to do that: A great script, obviously a great crew and a director to get across tone, but also, [it has to] come very naturally to Esther and I. My thing in being with this show, I just try to keep up with Esther. I just listen to Esther, I react to her and I don’t think about what I’m doing. I just tune into her as a performer and as a person. When you do that as an actor, you create something organic and real, which is pleasurable to watch. So, it’s very easy to go from comedy to drama, because you’re so keyed in to someone else. It’s almost like a dance in a weird way, when you’re keyed into another human being it’s really one of the most beautiful aspects of acting I suppose.
‘Trying’ season 2 premieres on Apple TV+ May 21st