Hulu’s “Dollface” has its Season 2 premiere on Friday, and Kat Dennings reprises her role as an ever-reluctant Jules, guided once again by the Cat Lady (a snarky cat-headed sage voiced by Beth Grant). While the first season followed Jules in her attempt to reconnect with college friends after a breakup, Season 2 takes us on the reconciled group’s sometimes-rocky-sometimes-rhapsodic ride to 30.
Jules, Madison (Brenda Song), Izzy (Esther Povitski) and Stella (Shay Mitchell) navigate new jobs, new relationships and new trials in their friendship. This new stage takes them to some wild places — from tripping at a music festival to starting a bar just for women — all punctuated by the sharply observant magical realism of the show’s first season.
Series creator Jordan Weiss developed the initial idea in her early 20s, premiering the show on Hulu in 2019 at just 26. Now, Season 2 boasts an all-women director slate as well as a slew of guest stars that include Lilly Singh, Poppy Liu and more. In a conversation with Variety, Weiss reflects on growing alongside her characters, and weaving her own experiences into the fabric of its comedy.
Season 1 focused on Jules re-building her close friendships. Now, she and her friends are learning to stand on their own. What informed that growth?
When I look back in my early 20s, I can point to a real sense of impermanence among me and my friends. We had each other but everything else felt temporary: bad job, bad boyfriend, bad hangover. And then I hit this point in my life, being the same age as the women in the show, closer to 30, where things are starting to feel more real. Jobs are starting to be careers, the people you’re dating are starting to be your partners. There’s been a real sense of taking stock. What are the insecurities that have been holding me back forever that I want to finally face? Being at that point in my life has really informed where we started the girls for this season.
What was it like trying to nail the complications of friendships while entering a new stage of life?
In the writers’ room, our North Star question that we would come back to this season was: How do these women grow up without growing apart? How do we see these four women evolve on four individual journeys, while still remaining really connected to each other? Really, this fun group of friends that we have finally reunited at the end of Season 1, the whole fun of Season 2 is now to live in that friend group.
This season is directed entirely by women. What did that mean to you?
That was something going into Season 2 I knew I wanted us to do. Same page with our showrunner, Michelle Nader. I could not be more thrilled. I love our directors. If you’re a woman that works on the show, a piece of yourself goes into it. We had eight directors across 10 episodes and I can feel a piece of all eight of them in the show. That has made it a better show.
Izzy sings an original song this season that you wrote!
Yes, I wrote it! I wrote the lyrics and then I co-wrote the music with our composer Jonathan Sadoff, who’s amazing. That was maybe the most fun I had this season in terms of writing. It was a really cool, special full-circle-for-my-life moment to get to write like a Disney-esque Broadway song.
Would you ever do an all-musical episode of “Dollface”?
That’s a great question. I think that it made so much sense for Izzy’s character and who she is. I don’t know if it would feel as organic for the other women so I’m not sure it’s something we would do if it didn’t feel organically born from the characters in the show.
Magical realism is integral to the show. In one scene, we see the girls become tornado-watchers as Izzy spirals about her relationship. How do you match these fantasies with specific emotional experiences?
We try to have the magical realism moments in the show come in during moments of emotional intensity. So, for that moment, really being in Jules’ perspective when you are watching your friend spiral and you feel so helpless. Wanting to just dive in and protect them and try to bring them out of this storm. The word “spiral” very organically inspired these images of tornadoes. It felt like a really fun active way to show not just Izzy spiral, but the feeling of being a friend in that moment and trying to talk somebody down.
It’s such a great moment.
I love when all four of them are together. That’s a newer part of Season 2. Really getting all of the girls pulled into the magical realism was an evolution of the show from Season 1. The other magical realism is the Cat Lady. People always ask, who is the Cat Lady? What does she represent? And I think the way I would describe her is that she’s the voice in my head when I’m working out any issue with myself. She’s my subconscious, my sneaking suspicion, my devil’s advocate, my neurotic fairy godmother.
The anxiety of turning 30 is prominent this season. Why do you think 30 feels like a looming deadline for people?
We tried to show both perspectives with Jules and Madison. For Madison, she’s still putting a huge emphasis as if it is this life deadline to have everything figured out. And Jules’ perspective is actually the opposite. In the beginning, it’s like “why does this one birthday have to matter so much?” Madison tries to protect herself by controlling everything that happens to her. And Jules tries to protect herself by being much more passive: You can’t lose if you don’t play. Something that’s beautiful about their friendship is that the thing that both of them really need to learn is found in each other.
The bar Stella starts with Liv (Lilly Singh) aims to be a safe and fun place for women. Is there a place like that for you?
I wish this bar existed. When I was in my early 20s working as an assistant, I didn’t have money for cable and I love reality TV. I will proudly say I am a citizen of Bachelor Nation. Why is it that guys can go and watch sports and cable for free in a bar and there’s not a bar in Los Angeles I can get to turn on “The Bachelor” for me?
Stella begins dating Liv. Was being queer something that has always been planned for the character?
In my head, I always thought of Stella as a queer-or-bisexual-identifying character that just happened to be dating a guy in one episode of Season 1. Now in Season 2, she happens to be dating a woman, but I felt it was something that was not a new discovery for her. We finally had more opportunity to show it this year. Stella’s journey is really about evolving and figuring out exactly what she’s ready for professionally. How does she navigate this business venture and this romantic relationship without abandoning like who she is and figuring out which of those things she’s fully ready to take on?
If you had to name a drink for yourself at Liv and Stella’s bar, what would it be?
A Spicy Weissy. It would be a spicy margarita because my Instagram handle is jweissy. It would be a Spicy Weissy jalapeño margarita.
With so many guest stars this season, were there any you were particularly excited about?
The headliner of our fictional Music Festival, Rozzi, is actually a friend of mine from college. In this show about female friendship, to have that crossover into my real life friendships is the most meta and rewarding feeling.
Tell us something we don’t know about Jordan Weiss.
I make a mean chicken piccata. When I’m not writing I love cooking. A female friendship movie from last year that I was obsessed with is “Barb and Star.” I also thought Promising Young Woman was amazing. I was so proud of Margot [Robbie] and Lucky Chap for producing that because they’re also producers on our show.
I love all of my best girlfriends. I really try to practice what I preach: Your friendships matter so much, and your life will be smaller and less fulfilling without them.
This interview has been edited and condensed. All 10 episodes of “Dollface” are now streaming on Hulu.