Gabrielle Christian and Mandy Musgrave, <EM>South of Nowhere</EM> Gabrielle Christian and Mandy Musgrave, South of Nowhere

If you missed the first season of South of Nowhere, you missed a lot.  A sweet family moved from the Midwest to the wilds of Los Angeles and in short order wound up shaken by the experience. The finale left the parents on the brink of separation, hot jock Glen was injured in a basketball game (and lost his girlfriend, Madison), adopted son Clay secretly sought out his birth mother, and shy daughter Spencer kissed her best friend, Ashley. Oh, and school heartthrob Aiden (who has dated both Spencer and Ashley) re-hooked up with his other ex, Madison. With all of that in mind, couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen this season, so we went straight to the source, creator Tom Lynch. I just watched the season premiere....
Tom Lynch: And? It's hot!
Lynch: [Laughs] Good, because I wrote that. We are really, really excited about the show because last year the response to our characters was so strong that our audience was demanding the show to get better. If you go on the website, they are rabid about the show. Do the fans have a favorite character?
Lynch: If you are a girl, it's Aiden (Matt Cohen). He's like our Brad Pitt. The strangest thing is that as beautiful as he is, he is as nice a person. He is always there early, working hard, doing his thing. This year we pushed him a lot to come forward more, and he was right there with it. He's a perfect gentleman. He's the guy that every girl likes and every father wants his daughter to marry. If I were still a teen, I'd probably have gone for Glen....
Lynch: [Laughs] You like a bad boy, don't you? His forward this year is wonderful. As you see it unfold, it just gets great. He's just done such a great job this season. He's going to make you laugh and he's going to break your heart. Spencer and Ashley... have you heard the reference Spashley? We've entered the culture as a one-name icon. My favorite is always going to be the two girls. Not for anything, but you fall in love with the two characters you write for. Anything I give them to do, they do better. In the opening episode, Ashley broke my heart.
Lynch: There is a broken-heart scene in there, yes. So much of what teen shows do is a kind of slow, moody angst thing, which I guess works fine for them, but we're very much convinced that this show needs to be about life in motion. That with all of their relationships and their school stuff and their problems, life always throws turns at you. I think that is why kids relate to the show. It is a portrait of their lives. You've tackled all the big landmarks in most teenagers' lives. Is there anything left?
Lynch: Oh, yeah! You know what is great about being a teenager? There is always another romance, and there is always another adventure. As we get older we become more programmed, but what I so love about writing for this generation is that everything is an adventure to them. Are there any issues that South of Nowhere is shying away from?
Lynch: I don't think so. The thing we have to avoid is being salacious. It has to come from the heart, rather than from the head. If we write from the heart about these characters, then it is fair game. But if we are sensationalizing, we are going to quantify the show and diminish its value. Right, a poorly handled Ashley and Spencer hookup could be just for show, but they are so sweet together.
Lynch: Absolutely. If you look at those two, you just want to protect them. And Ashley is just the kind of person who, if there are three doors that are good and one that is bad, she's heading right for the bad one. Spencer is like, "This is bad, but I've got your back and I'm going with you." So their relationship will continue this season?
Lynch: I think that you'll see romance blossom. In the premiere, someone has a surprise sibling.
Lynch: Yes. Will that person be sticking around?
Lynch: Yes. Will they have a romance blossoming with someone?
Lynch: [Laughs] Definitely. [In the premiere] you'll see how all the characters come together. We've widened out the world around Greg and Madison this year and in doing that, obviously there are complications and consternations. There is a lot more intrigue going on in the show and with all our characters. Relationships are going to shift. Will Clay's mom be back in the picture?
Lynch: Yes, she'll be back for a visit. Now, I heard a rumor that you were "softening" Madison up a bit. Is that true?
Lynch: Ah, there was that conversation, but what we did was open her up more. Instead of her being so one-dimensional, we rounded her [out]. I don't think she's softened, but we see more sides of her. I think she takes a more important role in the show this season. Last year I was just trying to get the Ashley-Spencer-Aiden relationship down. Now, everybody in the world knows them. People on the Web know them better than I do! I think we've just filled her out more, as we have with Glen and Clay. You've told me that you're already plotting out Season 3, but won't a lot of the characters be graduating? Are you planning for that?
Lynch: I don't know if they are graduating yet. But I have alternatives. School morphs into college, and into apartments, and so on.