SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on unless you’ve seen “Let’s Pretend We’re Strangers,” the July 7 episode of Syfy’s “Wynonna Earp.”
The second season’s not even halfway done, but already “Wynonna Earp” has treated its fans to a lot of twists and turns.
But the closing seconds of the fifth episode contained the biggest shocker yet: Wynonna is pregnant.
What you may not know is this: Star Melanie Scrofano, who plays Wynonna, was pregnant too. During the entire second season, she was expecting a child, and her baby was born not long after production wrapped. Yes, she still did a lot of her own stunts.
Holy moly, right?
That’s a lot of major news, and to break it down, Variety spoke to both Scrofano and executive producer and showrunner Emily Andras. At the start of the conversation, Andras noted that writing for the second season began in the spring of 2016, and Scrofano told her of her happy news in September of that year, when she was not that far along.
“I basically blacked out for a month, so I’m hazy on the details,” Andras joked.
Some elements of the season were rejiggered and rearranged, but Andras was extremely happy for Scrofano, who says she was was “hugely relieved” that the showrunner was excited to incorporate the pregnancy into the show. It makes sense, given that this frisky supernatural drama loves nothing more than exploring all kinds of complicated family bonds.
“As an actor, there’s nothing worse than having to hide anything, because you’re just so aware of it,” Scrofano says. “It feels like [the work] would have suffered” if “Wynonna Earp’s” creative team had attempted to disguise or work around the pregnancy.
So now that the big news is out there, both women jumped on the phone to talk about how it impacted “Wynonna Earp’s” storytelling. There aren’t really spoilers ahead; just a few clues about what may happen next for the demon fighters of Purgatory.
Melanie, can you talk about telling Emily your news?
Melanie: One time I wrote a [joke] card to my mom. I was 16, and I was like, “Happy Mother’s Day, by the way, I’m pregnant.” She totally believed it, and she was like, “OK. All right. We’re going to deal with this.” And that was basically Emily’s reaction. She’s like, “OK. You have hilarious timing, but we can do this. We’ve got this.”
Were you nervous?
Melanie: [Before talking to Emily,] I broke down in my doctor’s office. I was like, I’m so happy but I feel so bad, in a way. By the time I told her, I had anticipated all the horrible reactions that could have happened, and I knew none of them would happen, because I know Emily. But I was terrified. I was scared that she would be mad, or feel like I was doing it to her somehow. I was not that … reasonable. It was irrational.
Emily: Things were going pretty good, I was like, “Yeah! I kind of know what we’re doing!” It keeps it fresh when someone shows up and they’re like, “I’m kind of super pregnant. I’m going to be six months pregnant when we start production. And I’m basically gonna give birth 10 minutes after we’re done.” I am not going to pretend I wasn’t like, “Oh my God, how are we going to deal with this?”
But I also am a woman in this industry, I have kids on my own, I’ve been through it. And one of the things I’m most proud of about “Wynonna” is it’s such a female-friendly, feminist show. I was like, if any show is going to deal with this, it’s going to be us. And that’s how I have to sell it to the network. I knew we were going have to work it out, because of course we would. That’s what we do. I knew that nobody could be Wynonna but Mel. There was no show without her. So that was kind of my ace.
Melanie: I think a lot of people would have panicked and shut it down. I was really scared of that. But I had faith that if anybody was going fight for it, it would be you.
Emily: I do wish I had taken a montage of the pictures of the men I told, because that was delicious. Like telling the male producers, telling the network. Some people are better poker players than others, let me put it that way. But that was almost worth it for me. That gave me joy. There was one producer who’s my favorite, who’s the ultimate problem solver. Such a good guy. We were at dinner, and the wine had just been poured, and we were toasting Season Two like, “We did it!” And I was like, “Here’s the thing, just before you get into the bread basket …” And he basically did not say a word for two hours. I still tease him about it.
But honestly, I’m not giving lip service when I say this was the best team to have tackled this head-on. I couldn’t believe how well Syfy reacted. They were amazing and excited.
[The timeline was] Mel told me, and a week later, we went to New York Comic-Con. So I knew I had to go into Syfy and have this meeting with them. I thought, “Oh my God, it’s going to be such a bummer to be on the panel at New York Comic-Con after I’ve just been thrown out of the NBC building.” [Laughs]
Anyway, I went and I said, “Are you guys sitting down?” They were already sitting. I was like, “Do you want to sit on the floor?” I said, “I have to talk about Melanie.” And the color drained from their faces. They thought something bad had happened, or she was sick, or she was leaving. They recognize that Mel is so extraordinary, and they like her so much, that when I said, “She’s pregnant.” They were like, “Oh, thank God.” That was such a delightful response.
So take me through incorporating this delightful news into the show.
Emily: I knew that the only way this was going to work was if we incorporated the pregnancy. Mel was so game.
Melanie: I did not want to hide it. I was praying that you guys would want to play it.
Emily: Because of that, I went into Syfy and basically said, “I need to do a ‘Fargo.’ I really want to have a pregnant superhero. I want to do a Marge Gunderson. I think it speaks to everything that makes our show special.” And they fell in love with it.
Given that the show is so much about family, did this start the wheels turning with all the different things you could do with it?
Emily: Definitely. I also really wanted to explore specifically what Wynonna would be like pregnant. I think that’s a story that doesn’t always get told. This isn’t necessarily a woman in a monogamous [situation]. It’s a woman who lives a certain lifestyle, unapologetically, who has now found herself pregnant. I feel like that story doesn’t get told much on television. That’s what I’m looking forward to most — just showing the struggle of a woman who maybe did not choose this, and what decisions she is forced to make along the way that are best for herself, best for her family, best when you’re a demon hunter, and best for the child. I thought that could be really fresh.
I’m trying to think about Wynonna who does not drink. That scares me.
Melanie: Me too.
Emily: Scared for her enemies. It can be really weird. It’s like you’re putting a part of yourself in a cupboard for nine months, whatever that means. But you’re still you. That was the thing that surprised me so much about pregnancy — one day you don’t know you’re pregnant and the next day you do, and you have to change everything. It’s surreal. But you basically feel the same. I just thought that was so fascinating, and Syfy was really excited about telling the story of a pregnant superhero. So was I.
So you began production in December. First of all, why do you do that? You’re shooting in Calgary in the winter. Who hurt you?
Emily: I think it’s just to hit a summer debut. We could stay off the air longer and go into production in the summer. But when you’re a summer show, you have to shoot in the winter. So once you’re kind of locked into the schedule, that’s what you have to do. But now winter has become part of the story. It’s very bleak and kind of beautiful. Plus, we get some time off in the summer, which is great. But it’s purely it’s a production thing.
Lots of good things about the giant parkas and chunky sweaters, though!
Emily: Especially this year.
Melanie, what were your thoughts coming into season two about this particular issue and how it would all work?
Melanie: I was just so relieved that they were not going to try to hide it. As an actor, there’s nothing worse than having to hide anything, because you’re just so aware of it. It feels like [the work] would have suffered. I was relieved, but I also felt so inspired. You don’t have to be in our industry to have a panic attack about your career when you’re pregnant. Even if you’re a lawyer, you can think, “I’m scared to take time off because I don’t want to get passed by.” So I was relieved and I felt empowered that I’d be part of showing that this is an important new step in our industry — that we see pregnant women as full human beings who are capable of still doing their job.
On that note, though, I felt this pathological need to act like everything was OK, all the time, on set. Because I didn’t want to give anybody any reason to be like, “I’m never working with a pregnant woman again.” I was just so nervous that if I would complain once, somebody would be like, “Oh my God, pregnant women just whine.” So in that sense, I felt a self-imposed pressure to represent all women very well. Which by the end got really hard, because I was so tired all the time. But the whole experience — now that I’ve done that, I feel like I can literally do anything.
Within the show, is this a human baby? Or is there something else going on with Wynonna’s baby? Can you address that?
Emily: That is an excellent mystery. How did this happen? Is this actually a baby? What kind of baby it is, and what the heck are we going do with it? Those are all questions that we have a lot of fun exploring. When did this happen, or how did this happen, is really critical.
Could it be a tiny Doc Holliday, with a tiny mustache?
Emily: Yes, it’s possible [laughs]. There’s no doubt that Doc and Wynonna have been intimate. As of mid-season, we don’t even know how far along she is or what happened. All of these questions will be on Wynonna’s mind, and I think everybody in the group will have a different response to what they think is happening.
When you found out, did you have to rewrite much of the season? Did it cause you to re-think elements of the second half of the season?
Emily: We had not written all of the scripts, thank God. And we knew if we were careful, we could maybe fudge it ’til about mid-season before we had to reveal this. So we did toss some stuff overboard, but a remarkable amount of it stayed. We were quite determined to keep her this demon hunter, the Earp heir. She still had to do her job. That was part of what was so appealing about the storyline — the idea that, pregnant or not, she’s the only one who can wield Peacemaker and put these revenants and demons down and send them back to Hell.
I was going through my Season Two notes, and you do find things that fell by the wayside because we had to make room for the pregnancy. But I really do feel like this was a blessing for this season. It ended up being so much deeper and richer and more emotional. It felt like it came along at the perfect time, and it was really unexpected, but I think that’s one more reason it’ll feel so fresh. So thanks Mel, good job.
Melanie: Hey, my pleasure. Let me know if you need me to do it again.
Melanie, can you talk about how this affects Wynonna this season, before and after she finds out?
Melanie: At the beginning of this season, she’s moving so fast so that she doesn’t have time to stop and think about everything that’s happened. And then the fact that Dolls is gone, and he has been her mentor and sort of her guiding light … Dolls was a huge part of what made Wynonna feel like she could do this. When he’s gone, she feels lost and like she has to figure it out on her own.
She’s just starting to figure it all out on her own, coming into her own, and trusting her instincts, and then she finds out that she’s pregnant. It’s just like the carpet has been pulled out from under her again. She has to be the [Earp] heir, and she has to be a mother, which is … a thing that she had refused. I think I can say that she was on birth control.
She was just trying really hard [as the heir, and becoming pregnant was] the one thing where she was like, “I cannot do that to myself or to another human being.” And then it happened. In the second half of the season, the fight really becomes about so much more. She’s powered up. She becomes a mama bear, and she’s just going to fight to the end, to do what’s right, even if she has to go into labor doing it.
Emily: Yeah, at the end of the day, she still has a job to do. So she has to figure out a way to do that. Wynonna’s feelings about the pregnancy are [complex] because she cannot shed the new mantle of acting like a leader or a matriarch. So it’s hard for her to be vulnerable, even to the people who love her the most. That’s really a ton of pressure.
It’s [one of the] continued themes of “Wynonna Earp,” that Wynonna is often a victim of fate or destiny. She doesn’t always seem like she gets to make her own choices, but even when forced to do things she doesn’t want to do, she always fights to retain her own freedom and decision-making, to the best of her ability. I think that’s why we love her. Even though destiny has decreed that she be this hero, and now she’ll be a mother, she’s going to honestly fight and claw to do it on her own terms.
What was it like doing all the stunts? It’s such a physical role.
Melanie: I’m going to sound like such an a–hole, but it was easy, just because I was active all the way ’til the end. I was working out.
Emily: She was doing ballet.
You would take time to do a ballet class on the side?
Melanie: Yeah! I felt like I had to keep being strong, because Wynonna would still be strong. It was funny because I had a stunt double there all the time for safety, but she was almost sort of angry at me, because she was like, “I don’t get used.”
Our stunt coordinator, Steve McMichael, he was so excited to develop all these moves using a pregnant superhero. He did all this research and all this work to make sure that Wynonna learned to fight in a different style that was plausible while being pregnant. He was honestly so excited. [His wife, Leslie McMichael, is also a stunt person on the show, and they have five kids.] I knew from being pregnant that you can be very strong. You’re still very capable. Especially if it was stuff you were able to do before. So I was like, “Let’s make it aspirational, but realistic.” And he was so good about that. He and his wife both brought a lot to the table.
What’s next for Team Wynonna?
Emily: The challenges just keep on coming. It’s a grueling, action-packed season, but I think more than even the first year, we see that this is a family and a team, and they’re going to rally around each other when the chips are down. And this is one more thing to unite them, right? Whatever Wynonna’s going through and whatever this baby or pregnancy turns out to be, this is a really sticky situation, but they all love each other and they’re going to support each other. In fact, I feel like so many of the tough decisions and choices this year come because our people love each other so much, that sometimes in the moment, they have to make tough decisions to save one another or protect one another. Sometimes those decisions have consequences.
So despite the fact that there are fractures and arguments and debates, I really think this is the year that this dysfunctional family comes together, and that’s really satisfying.
Melanie: That was garbage. Let me give you the real answer. [Laughs.] What Wynonna needs to do, it means so much sacrifice for everybody else. It’s really testing the relationships, and I just thought it was so interesting. Because I only hope that I have people in my own life who love me enough to sacrifice what these people have to sacrifice.