‘Dear Edward': Jason Katims and Connie Britton Explain How Last Grief Group Session ‘Connects the Dots’
“Dear Edward” builds to an emotional pitch with the last grief group session in the finale episode when Edward finally meets all the adults grieving losses like his.
Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood”) adapted the ten-episode Apple TV+ show from Ann Napolitano’s best-selling novel of the same name, which follows a young boy Edward Adler (Colin O’Brien) as he navigates the loss of his parents and brother in a plane crash that kills every passenger but him. His Aunt Lacey (Taylor Schilling) and her husband John (Carter Hudson) take Edward in, and Lacey attends the grief counseling set up in New York City by the airline, where she meets many others who lost loved ones in the crash.
“I always thought of Lacey (Taylor Schilling) as the connective tissue, the character that connected everybody,” Katims told TheWrap. “Lacey was obviously very closely connected with Edward, but she was also very closely connected and tied to everybody in the grief group and she was the sort of character that brought everybody together.”
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Another character who pulls people together in the group and outside of it is Connie Britton’s Dee Dee, who undergoes a transformative experience in learning to be there for others when she has previously lived a superficial life. It’s Dee Dee who decides to throw the party at the end of grief group to have a celebration with closure before the members go their separate ways.
“I know how Dee Dee feels at the end. Dee Dee feels like she’s lost everything, but then she found this family so I think she feels sad like she’s like she’s losing something,” Britton told TheWrap. “But still, she is in charge. She wants to make it great for everybody. She wants to celebrate this thing. Celebrate life, but it was funny when we were shooting the scene. We realized how infrequently we had all worked together because our stories are all so separate.”
Dee Dee and her daughter Zoe (Audrey Corsa) move to Los Angeles at the end of the show due to financial strain after Dee Dee’s husband and Zoe’s father Charles dies in the plane crash. Showrunner Jason Katims suggests that the show could continue without the physical location of grief group because of the bonds forged in Season 1.
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“There was actually something really joyful about shooting that scene and being able to all be together. Each character had had their individual journey, but then we got to be together in this real kind of cohesive way that, for me is emblematic of this kind of support that we as human beings can give each other when we’re going through grief and loss. And I think that that was very remarkable about what that ending suggests.”
Edward also connects people as the idea of the Miracle Boy who survived the flight, and his reputation precedes him when he attends the grief group party.
“We felt like, moving toward the finale, that it would be very powerful to see Edward walk into that space,” Katims said. “You had sort of known about him, and learn about him through Lacey, [but] to actually meet him felt like something that was a way to connect the dots in the first season of the show.”
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Katims suggested the nonlinear process of grieving lends itself to more seasons of the series.
“What we really wanted to try to do is give everybody a satisfying journey in the first season because people go through a lot in the show, and so we really wanted to get our characters somewhere, but we also wanted to leave room for more storytelling and leave some questions,” Katims told TheWrap. Because, you know, when you go through something like this, grieving doesn’t end after that. It’s not like oh, I’ve grieved and now I’m moving on. It’s an ongoing process and evolves.”
The ”Dear Edward” creator also hinted at how the letters addressed to Edward, which were a major part of the book, will factor into potential future seasons of the television adaptation. Edward doesn’t discover the letters until the final episodes, but he and Shay stumble upon a pretty big one that suggests he has an uncle out there somewhere.
“[It’s] kind of hinted at when in the finale, Edward starts to go through these letters and sees a letter from somebody who, is actually connected to him, a family member that he never knew about,” Katims said. “So the fun of moving forward would be to continue to tell stories about the character, the community that we’ve fought that we’ve already seen form, but also start to expand that community with new characters.”
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