Royal Pains Bosses on Jill's Departure: It Was the Hardest Thing We've Done
Paulo Costanzo, Jill Flint | Photo Credits: David Giesbrecht/USA Network
On last week's Royal Pains, Dr. Hank's longtime on-again, off-again girlfriend Jill Casey (Jill Flint) left the sunny beaches of The Hamptons for the rural jungles of Africa for good. Although this wasn't the first time Jill said goodbye (see: her trip to Uruguay, when she lost original job in Africa), don't expect to see her on the next return flight to New York come Wednesday's episode (9/8c on USA). Executive producers Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch talked with TVGuide.com about writing out one of the show's original stars, why Jill and Hank's romance had "run its course" and what's next for Hank's love life. Plus: Could Jill return to The Hamptons?
How did you decide that Jill would leave at this point in the show?
Andrew Lenchewski: I think we felt we were at the point where we really owed the audience some definitive answer to that storyline. This is a show that is about these characters trying to find themselves and chase dreams and passions. Her passion had always been to create some kind of community clinic and [she] had struggled with really creating something of her own in the Hamptons. HankMed had helped her achieve that dream somewhat, but I would say in the past season and a half, it became clear that she had this calling elsewhere that she really wanted to pursue. The other side of that is, for us as storytellers, it was always challenging to have a love interest for our hero, who is a doctor, when the love interest is not herself a doctor. We felt like that relationship had been on-again and off-again and on-again and had run its course. So we're very happy with the way we brought closure to their relationship and to her arc as a character in the Hamptons.
At the start of Season 2, you sounded intent on carrying out this traditional will-they-or-won't-they romance throughout the show. What do you think the path of that relationship changed?
Michael Rauch: I think there's still that question lingering in the air. Everything we said then we believed and in a way we still do. We definitely aren't ruling out Jill Casey coming back to the show. It probably would be in a different capacity, but just because she's now working in Africa doesn't mean that she's not able to come back to the world of Royal Pains at some point. But it didn't feel like the right time to bring Hank and Jill back together.
When did the conversations first start? When did you realize this was the time for Jill to leave?
Rauch: We probably had a sense of it sometime toward the beginning of Season 4 as we were breaking it. It's not something we knew seasons ago. We tried very hard to keep Jill woven into the storytelling and a big part of that was her connection to Hank and her connection to the clinic. Once we decided that the Hank-Jill relationship wasn't something we wanted to keep playing, it felt like it was time to fulfill the promise we had made many, many episodes ago.
The show has never had a problem finding other possible love interests for Hank with patients and rival doctors. Did you take that into consideration as well?
Lenchewski: Definitely. Hank is an incredibly eligible bachelor within the show and he's our hero. So, the idea of finding true love for him is one of the major themes of the show. Once we made the decision to not bring him and Jill back together, we did initiate a new search for who that new character and new actress might be. This was an incredibly difficult decision for us that we debated for a long time and the other thing that made it tricky is that Jill is so built into the mythology of the show. She's been with us since the very beginning. Not only was she a major catalyst for Hank's initial decision to stay in the Hamptons, but she was probably the main thing in Season 1 that made the Hamptons palatable for Hank as an outsider. Now, four seasons in, it feels like Hank has so become part of this world and it's become part of him. So, the idea of someone enabling that comfort about the Hamptons felt like something that had run its course.