Married writing duo Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson created one of the hottest shows of the 2021-2022 season with “Yellowjackets,” in which we’ve yet to see exactly how “Lord of the Flies” a women’s soccer team unfolds after their plane crashes in the desert.
The story of the jaw-dropping savagery of the girls – and their traumatized adult counterparts – has been chillingly well presented on the show, which is nominated for seven Emmys, including best drama, best writing and nods for Melanie Lynskey. and Christina Ricci.
The series creators, who share showrunning duties with Jonathan Lisco, are currently preparing for season 2 but took the time to discuss their nominations and some of their biggest influences with TheWrap.
TheWrap: Congratulations on all of your nominations. Which ones are you most proud of?
Bart Nickerson: Best drama, right? Does that make me a dick? And play because they’re all phenomenal. But better drama…. It seemed so far removed from my whole experience that I couldn’t imagine being nominated. There are so many contributions that for various reasons are not individually named, so to be nominated for something that [includes the] theme song, props, cast, writing, production, all of it — I can be a fan of all of their work without feeling like I’m becoming narcissistic.
Ashley Lyle: Looking at the other nominated shows, it always seems very surreal to be considered in the same category as them. It was a real thrill.
It seems like the perfect time for the “yellow vests”. If it had come out a few years ago, do you think it would have been considered too dark and weird?
Lyle: We’re lucky that other shows have led the way because, traditionally, I feel like shows that include genre elements are less likely to be nominated. It certainly helped that “Stranger Things” was nominated before. There’s more recognition now that shows don’t have to be just plain drama to be nominated. Shows like “Succession” that have a dark comedic instinct [are being recognized] as well. I think voters are more open now to different types of programming, and we’ve certainly taken advantage of that.
Nickson: Did ‘Twin Peaks’ get anything the first time around? It always makes me happy that it was so popular when it came out because it was so unlike anything [else]. They should have had an Emmy. [In its two-season run, the ’90s David Lynch series was nominated for Best Drama, and Best Writing, Best Directing, with two acting nods each going to Kyle MacLachlan and Piper Laurie, and one to Sherilyn Fenn.]
Did “Twin Peaks” influence “Yellowjackets” in any way?
Lyle: Absolutely. I mean, not consciously, necessarily, although we sometimes talk about it in the writers room. But, generally speaking, Lynch had such an incredible influence on our personal aesthetics and storytelling because he paved the way for absolute weirdness to reign supreme. I don’t think we’re necessarily at Lynchian stature in terms of the pure control he has over the utter weirdness of his world, but [he’s] definitely an influence.
Nickson: I feel like there are a million things he inspired, but maybe one of the most important, at least for “Yellowjackets”, is that Lynch does a very serious job and that he clearly cares a lot about his job. But what’s on screen can also be fun and a bit whimsical, and those things can coexist very easily. And not just coexist, but reinforce each other. Sometimes, yes, it’s deep and it’s layered, and it’s leveled. And it’s meaningful, but it’s also a lot of fun.
You are both named screenwriters for the first two episodes. Can you tell us about your writing process?
Lyle: We are, I think, first and foremost writers, and so we couldn’t be happier to [being nominated]. We are very deliberate with our scripts. We write incredibly detailed plans, and we work really hard on them and we work hard on them as a group. We have a fantastic writers room.
Nickson: It’s amazing to be nominated for two episodes. The pilot and second episodes are something we are incredibly proud of. And it was really great to write [the second episode] with Jonathan Lisco, our showrunning partner. We were lucky that he was not only such a great writer, but that we got along well and approached things in the same way. And we have these incredibly brilliant and fabulous writers. It starts in the room, and we talk about the whole season, and then you break down the individual episodes. It really is a team sport. I just want to knock on all the wood, all the time, because it went so well with our collaborators that I hope we didn’t use up all our luck.
How do you feel about being compared to “Lost”?
Lyle: It’s funny, because I don’t necessarily think of our show as “Lost.” The mystery and mythology element of this show was a central part of it. We definitely have an element of that, and there’s definitely mystery in our show, but I think it’s not as central, in a way. I really enjoyed this show. I know this can be very divisive, and I feel like all the threads may not have been followed through to conclusion, but at the same time… what a ride. I think people sometimes lose sight of how fun this show was to watch when you first watched it.
Nickson: I also don’t always want everything answered. Like, I do and I don’t, because a lot of what made “Lost” so gripping was the mystery, not just the mystery of what happened, but the kind of recovery of goosebumps to be alive. You can’t give all the answers and keep this scary going. We’re surrounded by this unknown of being alive, and having something that distills that so viscerally, I think it’s such a win and you can’t fix it all. Because that’s where that magic part lives.
Are you saying you’re not going to answer every question you ask on the show?
Lyle: When we deliberately ask a question, like “Who is blackmailing the Yellowjackets?” we will always have an answer. But when we’re dealing with something that’s more metaphysical or existential, how could we possibly have the answer because we as humans don’t necessarily have the answer? We certainly don’t intend to leave the audience hanging with any very direct questions we ask. But at the same time, there are things for which there are no answers.
Nickson: I think our highest goal is for everything to be satisfactory. I don’t think we wanted to leave anyone hanging. But I think there are things we can’t answer.
Okay, does Lottie have supernatural powers? Did she summon that bear?
Lyle: We strongly believe that it should be open to interpretation. Was it a coincidence? Or was there something bigger at play? I think that’s a question that, if we tried to answer it in a very specific and concrete way, would actually undermine some of the questions that we ask on the show.
You said season 2 was going to be darker and weirder. Could you clarify this?
Lyle: It’s all pretty top secret at this point. We had dinner the other night with Jamie Travis, who’s the show’s director, and he’s going to be directing one of the first episodes of season 2. And we were introducing him to not just his episode, but the story as a whole , and he panted a lot.
Production on “Yellowjackets” season 2 will begin in late August with an expected end in February.