Season 6 of "Royal Pains" premieres this June, and just about as much time has passed for the characters as it has for us. Yahoo TV spoke with executive producers Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch about the new season: the things they're trying to get back to (why people fell in love with the show in the first place), as well as what's completely new (Jeremiah is doing what?).
The show comes back nine months later. Who has the time been good for and who's the worse for wear?
Lenchewski: What the season premiere is going to explore is just how much the world has moved on without Hank while he was away with Boris traveling the world and helping Boris with both his medical needs and his larger life plans, which were alluded to in last season's finale.
Divya has had her first child. Jeremiah has taken control of HankMed and really grown into the role. Evan and Paige have been in marriage counseling and have improved their relationship. So everybody has evolved and advanced their journeys in ways that Hank is very happy about, but there are a couple of key moments in the episode where the audience will realize that maybe Hank has missed more than he's wanted to.
Who's your favorite pairing, personally, to write for in the show?
Rauch: One of the fun things for us about writing the show is that we'll be writing, let's say, a Hank/Evan scene — and we'll feel like, "Oh my God, this is the sweet spot of the show. We just have to do more Hank/Evan scenes!" And then we'll be writing Hank/Divya scenes and we'll think, "Oh no, this is the sweet spot of the show! This is the best dynamic!" And then we'll be writing a Divya/Evan scene or a Divya/Jeremiah scene or an Evan/Paige scene. And really, we have such a wonderful cast — they're so great as individual actors and they're so amazing together with their chemistry and just how much fun they are. It's what makes the show such a pleasure for Andrew, for me, and for all of our writers to write for. Because we love writing for all of them.
And it's not a cop-out answer, it really is true. Individual writers may have a character that feels like the voice is closest to them. But in terms of the dynamics — even when we have a staff meeting and we have Hank and Evan and Divya and Jeremiah and we sometimes throw Paige in there, too. It's a lot of people to write for, but it's fun to write those because the characters love each other and have fun toying with each other. So there really is no primary relationship that transcends the other ones in terms of who people want to write for.
You've already announced two actors who will be involved in multiple episode arcs — Willa Fitzgerald ("Alpha House") and two-time Tony winner Donna Murphy. Is there anything in particular you look for when you're bringing in someone like that?
Lenchewski: It's really guided by the story we're building the character for. But beyond that, the one thing we're always looking for is someone who fits into the very specific tone of the show. We walk that line between drama and comedy, so we need somebody who can communicate emotions when it comes to heavy dramatic scenes that we play, and we also need someone who can help keep up the levity and buoyancy of the show and play the humor as well. And we think we got that in spades with both Donna and Willa.
Willa is going to be playing a character — a really important and surprising character introduced in the season premiere — she's going to be with us all season long. And Donna is going to be part of a Hank mythology story that we'll be introducing in the fourth episode and is going to take us to locations all around the world.
Will there be more travel this season?
Rauch: We will be traveling this season, probably about the same as we have a lot of seasons. We went to Budapest last year for a Hank/Boris story, and we went to Tuscany for a Divya/Evan story. And we went to Georgia to escape the cold weather in New York and also built a story there. So this year, we've been to Puerto Rico — also to escape the cold weather — and we shot a Cayman Island scene there. And there'll be a couple of international trips as well.
Anything you're doing this season you haven't done before?
Lenchewski: One thing we're doing in terms of character is we're introducing a love interest for Jeremiah, which is something we're incredibly excited about. It's something that comes when and where he least expects it. Overwhelmed by all the chaos that's overrun his house with Divya and her baby and all the family coming in to visit, he leaves in search of a sanctuary from all that and he finds a young woman there who he develops a surprising rapport with. So that's something really exciting for us.
But, in general I think, on the contrary, this season for us is really about returning to our bread and butter. We want to remind the audience why they found and embraced the show in the first place. Which is: its fun, its escapism, its beauty, its sense of humor. And to give people, through the eyes of our characters, a chance to experience the luxury, the fun, and the glamour of the Hamptons in the summer.
Michael, you're writing a new pilot for USA. What is it about the network that sets it apart for you?
Rauch: For me, it's a few different things. First of all, it begins with the people who run the network. From the top, all the creative directors are incredibly smart. They speak with one voice in terms of the tone that they want the shows to be so there's nothing confusing about what they're after. They're really good in terms of setting the table to allow us to do what we want to do in the way that we want to do it. So they're very collaborative and very supportive.
And also, the tone of the network. It's the network that deals as "Characters Welcome." But there's a lightness to everything they do. So even if something is a little bit dark and a little bit edgy and a little bit gritty, you get to counterbalance it with a lightness and buoyancy. And that, for me at least, is what life is. So it feels like a tone that is both fun and challenging — in a good way — to write for.
And it's a network that really gets behind their shows and supports them from the beginning and helps them grow. For me and for Andrew, it's the perfect example. No one knew what this was going to be, but they got behind it before we even launched and really believed in it. And helped the show to be as good as it's been and with the longevity it's had.
What else are you watching on TV right now?
Lenchewski: For me, when we're in production, it's the old adage "I work in TV, so I don't watch TV." But when I do catch a few minutes, my wife and I watch "The Americans." We love that; it's our favorite show on TV.
Rauch: We're watching "Orphan Black," "The Americans." Just catching up on this season's "Downton Abbey" and finishing that. Andrew turned me on to "The Americans," and I'm enjoying it very much. We share a lot of the same crew with them.
The Season 6 premiere of "Royal Pains" airs Tuesday, June 10 at 9 p.m. on USA.