Prime Video’s hit animated series Fairfax is coming back with an amazing second season following the hilarious misadventures of four middle schoolers looking to earn their place in the culture. The Gen Z shenanigans return June 10 with stars Skyler Gisondo, Kiersey Clemons, Peter S. Kim and Jaboukie Young-White and guest appearances from Billy Porter, Zoey Deutch, Camila Mendes, Yvette Nicole Brown, Annie Murphy, Guy Fieri, John Leguizamo and more!
Ahead of the second season debut, Shadow and Act spoke with the executive producers of the series – Matthew Hausfater, Aaron Buchsbaum, and Teddy Riley (not the producer/singer) – to get the scoop on what to expect.
SA: Did you guys have any hand in the casting process? And if so, did you get the dream cast that you wanted?
MH: The answer is yes and yes. For example, specifically with Billy Porter, we wrote in the script in the first draft four years ago when Pose came ‘Think Billy Porter.’ And so we asked our casting agent, who is wonderful and a legend, her name is Linda Lamontagne. She helped us procure one of the most star-studded casts on television. We always say, ‘Where else are you going to get David Strathern and Guy Fieri?’ Yes, that’s really only going to happen on Fairfax. And we really got to think who was the best person for this character, but also who we have grown up loving and who do we want to celebrate and who would really embody this new does embody this and all of the guys.
AB: We were just checking off our bucket list of like the most awesome people we’ve worshiped for many, many years growing up watching film and television. And interestingly enough, I think making a show during COVID, a lot of actors weren’t working, making live television or live movies. And so there was this a fun little opportunity to just shoot for the moon and land. Our dream cast, which we did over and over again and truly blew our minds. It’s crazy.
Going into season two, what would you guys say are the main differences between season one and season two? What were you able to expand upon creatively that you weren't able to tackle in the first season?
TR: There are a ton of differences. I think in season one, you’re really trying your best to introduce the audience to the show, and get them on board with the main characters and their relationships. But as seasons go on, the goal is to open up the world, fall in love with more characters and bring more depth to the ones that you already know.
A big goal of ours was to dig deeper into the into our main four of the gang and explore what their relationship looks like as it evolves by way of this new rival brand – and also kind of highlighting some characters that you got a taste of in season one who we just kind of in making the show, fell in love with. We think audiences did too, and, and wanted to give them even more love and screentime in season two.
One of the things that I was interested in is that one of the main characters in the show is a person of color, and we're seeing a resurgence and yearning for a story centered around or more inclusive with people of color, stories of color in the animated world. And you see it with shows like Disney's 'The Proud Family,' which recently rebooted. Do you guys as creators and as people who work with a lot of different people behind the scenes feel that there is a boom in what stories feature leads of color? And what else do you think could be done for the animated world to be more inclusive?
MH: I think there’s not enough is the answer. And I think the three of us wanted to make a show that represented our friend groups growing up and anywhere that we could be inclusive and hire people of color, especially in animation, you’ll find behind the scenes it’s a lot of older white dudes and we wanted to sort of try and break the cycle and as opposed to the thinking of like, ‘Oh no, we’re three white dudes. Like we should just make a show about white people.’ We wanted to steer into it and celebrate our friend groups growing up, and that’s what we did it. And that was sort of always the ethos is let’s find the best writers, let’s find the best animators, and let’s do it while also really putting a magnifying glass on people of color that represent this world that we’re trying to portray.
TR: There are so many great shows that are coming out. There is this boom in animation happening in general. And I think more and more, whether it’s The Proud Family remake or even on the movie side, Turning Red, the Pixar movie that just came out – we’re seeing more and more awesome animated stories that are told about and by people of color and diverse audiences. And we do think that those audiences are craving it more and more.
As you guys mentioned, the show is a replica of your friend group growing up. How did you guys’ personal experiences contribute? What themes are imparted within the show that you used your own personal experiences to inform the way that the show came out?
AB: Just the first layer of it is we grew up in Los Angeles and to us, it always felt like when LA was portrayed on television, it was always an angle into Hollywood. And for us, LA was never about Hollywood. And Fairfax is where we hung out, where we loitered, where we spent most of our time. And so it was really just about being authentic to that experience. And like there is such vibrant, Fairfax is really a melting pot of vibrant communities, whether it’s food or fashion or skating and music. And just really trying to be authentic to that and convey that in this show is kind of like the most important step and also the first step to creating what you see on television.
TR: I think also like the three of us in middle school, within our friend groups and just kind of within our place in high school, definitely felt like a dale. And I had a best friend who is very much like a Benny type to me where he was like, ‘Yo, that brand is not cool anymore. You need to throw that shit in the fire,’ and everybody like, ‘Thank God for that friend.’ Those kinds of real moments between our friend groups inspired the gang, the speed of the way they all talk to each other the way they kind of shit on each other. But at the end of the day, they all love each other.
Why did you guys feel that animation was the best method to take versus live-action?
MH: I think we just wanted to I think we wanted to tell stories and do homages and references to our favorite things, whether that was Die Hard or Indiana Jones or whatever. But also being writers, you’re always told to think produced early. And then like if you write a helicopter scene, that’s a $60 million scene. But with animation, it costs the same as if the kids are sitting at a coffee table. And we just wanted to be able to go there. And I don’t think this world would feel as fun and satirical and that we were laughing with you instead of at you if it was based in reality.
TR: Already everything’s already crazy, so to make a satirical comedy about it, kind of you need to go that next level. And we utilize it, everywhere we can, whether it’s talking pigeons or crazy scenes in, or some kind of mysterious jungle temple. It’s a great way to make a show that’s affordable, but also kind of tell these stories that are really fun.
AB: We always talk about like these stakes, like when you’re a teenager, everything is life or death. It could be as simple as needing to get home on time, but it is truly life or death stakes, and using animation to help convey the importance and the severity of those stakes. I think help kind of just celebrate what it means to be a teenager and really kind of make the most fun of what they’re experiencing it day in and day out.