An enticing and intriguing mix of genres, it might be – at first – hard to nail down what streaming show The Resort is doing.
“I never want people to feel like they can guess what’s going to happen next,” TheResort‘s creator, Andy Siara, laid down. It’s the show’s playfulness that makes it so unpredictable.
Siara, the screenwriter responsible for one of the most the imaginative and loveable rom-coms in recent years, PalmSpringsso didn’t know what the show was, for many years.
Siara told news.com.au that the TV show started life as a movie and it was, admittedly, “not very good at all.” He shelved the script, occasionally pulling it out to have another go but he couldn’t quite crack it.
Until he did.
starring How I Met Your Mother‘s Cristin Milioti and The Good Place‘s William Jackson Harper, TheResort is set over two timelines. The main one – the one with Milioti and Harper – is present day. The pair play a couple, Emma and Noah, who are on holidays at a Mexican resort for their 10th wedding anniversary.
It should be a happy time but the romance and passion has waned from the relationship. Spending more time apart than together, Emma finds an old flip phone. Spurred on by curiosity, she powers it on and discovers it belonged to a young man who went missing from the resort 15 years earlier.
Interspersed with flashbacks to the time of the disappearances, Emma and Noah then start sleuthing in the present to try and figure out what happened all those years ago. but TheResort is less about the mystery than it is about their relationship.
“It’s clear they’re trying to recapture their youth in a way, trying to go back to a time before the sh*t that is thrown at you in life was thrown at them.
“That’s what the story is about, isn’t it? It’s about nostalgia.
“You have these two missing kids and this couple that’s trying to find them in a very literal sense, the answer to the mystery of what happened, but also at the same time, what happened to themselves.”
Siara first told Milioti about TheResort in the middle of the desert at 4am. They were in the middle of filming PalmSprings – that contentious dinosaur scene, actually – and the writer said he was trying to get this “wild, weird show” to happen.
Three years later, Siara rang Milioti and it was on.
“I knew that I wanted to work with Andy for all time. He’s someone who, no matter what he calls me about, I’m going to be excited,” Milioti revealed. “The project would resurface in the back of my mind every now and then but it is so hard to get anything made.
“There’s a lot of hoping for things in this industry or things are stuck in development hell for years then fall apart. It’s nuts.”
Luck, timing and a cracker premise meant TheResort did get mounted when so many others didn’t. And for Milioti and co-star Harper, it was the character interplay that resonated more than the murder mystery.
“The mystery part of our show is, of course, a ball and it was a blast to film – like the stuff where we’re running through the fruit market and trying to solve things while drunk,” Milioti explained. “But what I really, really loved working through was the part of the series where it’s the dynamic of the relationships.
“The ways in which their marriage is failing or the ways in which they used to be good at lifting each other up, the patterns they’re caught in. Then it becomes so much more about what they’re not dealing with.
“These are my favorite kinds of movies and TV shows, anything that has a sort of sneaky way in, they talk about larger things.”
Harper added, “The mystery is not the paramount thing, it’s that it dives into people’s lives and what really drives them. You invest in all of the characters because then once things get solved, there are still real stakes and there’s an effect on all these people who now matter to you.”
Harper wasn’t immediately sure about taking on the role. He had some trepidation which he explained as not being instantly certain why the producers wanted him.
“I definitely needed to think about it,” he recalled. “I wasn’t sure if it was something that I could pull off. I was like, ‘What is in this character that you think that I can do?’ Sometimes you have an instinct about what they’re expecting and with this one, I really couldn’t tell.”
But Harper found the show “so strange” that he was intrigued – and he likes to take on things that makes him scared.
“That’s a thing I’m always chasing, that feeling of being a little bit out of your depth and trying to find a way to stick the landing.”
Siara said earlier versions of the series leant more heavily in the sleuthing part of the show, “inspired”, as it were, by the true crime phenomenon that has only gained momentum since then.
Siara confessed to having listened to countless hours of true crime podcasts but eventually felt something “strange” about it as a form of entertainment.
“I can say it’s going to make a difference but it ultimately comes down to being entertainment. And then I start thinking about the families of the victims and then I start to get this feeling I don’t like.
“Some of the earlier iterations of [The Resort] were built out of this strange feeling but since then, far better, smarter people have gone deeper in exploring that, and satirizing that in different ways.”
while TheResort often feels as if its characters are engaged in their own “true crime” sleuthing, Siara said it’s because Emma and Noah exist in the same world the audience is in, one often fueled by the “true crime industrial complex”. In previous versions, it was more explicit.
“It’s part of the DNA, but it’s not actually part of the show anymore. They’re not making references to listening to true crime podcasts or anything like that. We don’t really need that anymore because Only Murders in the Building is a phenomenon.
“I can see that we are in a world where people love true crime, so we should be making things that are commenting on that.”
The Resort will be streaming on Stan from Friday, July 27