“Blindspotting” is welcoming viewers back into the ordeal, and Jasmine Cephas Jones’ Ashley is about ready to explode.
The Starz comedy series from creators Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, based on the film of the same name, returns for a new eight-episode season Friday. The show kicked off its action last season after Ashley found herself having to move in with her boyfriend Miles’ (Casal) mother Rainey (Helen Hunt), along with her son Sean (Atticus Woodward), after Miles was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. Season 1 was a critical success for its genre-blending format that incorporated dance and verse sequences to complement the story.
The new season picks up nine months after Miles’ incarceration, and Ashley is on the edge.
“[There’s] a lot of feelings she has not dealt with so they’ve just been piling up,” Jones told TheWrap. “And she’s also just in denial about how she’s handling the situation and that Miles is away. And at the same time, she’s feeling this pressure of everybody telling her that she’s not fun to be around … I think she’s trying to find out who she is without Miles.”
The premiere episode follows as Ashley throws a birthday party for Sean in the beloved Tilden Park in Orinda, and featuring the location’s popular steam train as well as other locations around the Bay Area and Oakland specifically.
Viewers find Ashley snapping at her loved ones and those around her, with Jones teasing that it’s just the beginning of a difficult journey ahead for her character.
“I think really, just deep down, she’s in a lot of pain. This is a very painful time,” Jones said. “And so you do get this kind of wild, chaotic side to [Ashley] because she’s trying to let loose. But when you’re letting loose and you’re not dealing with your pain and your trauma, that never really leads to anything good. She kind of goes down this kind of bad path, and meets new people that aren’t a good influence on her.
“She eventually finds her way, but I think this season we’re on a very chaotic roller coaster ride of Ashley not dealing with herself in the proper way,” she added.
Casal, who also serves as showrunner for the series, spoke about how getting to return for Season 2 allowed the show to become more “intentional” with its blend of storytelling techniques, dance sequences and verse monologues.
“The first few episodes of Season 1, we were like, “How do we do this [as a] show? How does this work in half-hour increments, we’ve only made a movie before,’” he said. “And so, some of it was just the growing pains of switching to television where like, dance was used more interstitially, verse was shorter and quicker and more frequent.
“This season, we’re like, alright, if we’re going to do verse, it’s going to be because the story really demands that … and same with dance stuff. When words fail, let’s make sure that that’s the only time that it’s happening. And when we do it, that we have enough time to shoot it. And [that] we have the right amount of dancers and the right amount of prep time, all that. So I think intentionality is key.”
Season 1 was mostly filmed in Los Angeles due to pandemic restrictions, with Casal and Diggs speaking publicly about their desire to base production of the show exclusively in the Bay Area. For Season 2, that dream got a little closer to becoming a reality.
“If you think about an episode of television, it’s usually five days [of shooting] per episode. And so I think Season 1, it was like one day per episode that we got to shoot in the Bay. We stacked them and did them all at the end [of shooting],” Casal said. “I think this season was more like two days per episode, which is double and is huge. And we also, economically, knew how to shoot in the bay, a bit smarter, a bit faster. The crew that we’ve used now knew how we worked, you know, and so we just got to get a lot more out of it this season.”
Blindspotting Season 2 airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Starz, and streams Fridays at midnight ET/Thursdays at 9 p.m. PT on the Starz streaming platform.