‘Not Dead Yet’ Star Hannah Simone Says Sam Will Face ‘Bumps in the Road’ After Episode 3 Twist

The “New Girl” alum teases shifting dynamics with Gina Rodriguez’s Nell in Season 2

Not-Dead-Yet
Hannah Simone on "Not Dead Yet" Season 2 (Disney/Temma Hankin)

Note: The following story contains spoilers for “Not Dead Yet” Season 2, Episode 3.

Wednesday’s episode of “Not Dead Yet” kicked off a new reality for Hannah Simone’s Sam — one that the actress teased will include some”bumps in the road.”

Difficult truths related to Sam’s marital struggles come out as Nell (Gina Rodriguez) babysits Sam’s daughter, prompting Sam to reveal that she and her husband have separated. As Sam navigates her new identity as a single mother with Nell by her side, Simone welcomed shaking up the typical dynamics in the ABC comedy’s sophomore season.

“Nell’s the single one and her life’s a mess, and Sam’s the married one, and she has kids and her lives together,” Simone told TheWrap. “But, we all know as you live life, things change and ebb and flow, so they can get a little messier.”

Simone’s idea to deepen Sam’s storyline was sparked from her time on “New Girl” from 2011–2018, during which characters shifted in and out of relationships and transitioned into different phases of life.

“You really get to know people over years and years and years and years — It’s unlike a film,” Simone said. “I just thought, what if we get there quicker with Sam, because we don’t know how many seasons the show has.”

Looking ahead with divorce on the horizon, Simone teased Sam will need to lean on Nell as her seemingly perfect life evolves into a new reality, and teases the best friends’ experience being in the dating world at the same time.

“Life — even when it’s tough — is often comical and hard,” Simone noted. “And thank God for our friends or our family to help us have some levity in our tougher moments.”

Below, Simone unpacks Sam’s decision not to reveal her struggles to Nell, and how the entrance of Brad Garrett’s Duncan is gearing up to change dynamics between Sam, Nell and Lexi (Lauren Ash.)

TheWrap: How did you work with the EPs to develop this storyline and plant some clues in the lead up to the reveal?

Hannah Simone: That’s all David [Windsor] and Casey [Johnson]. I loved that we just dove into it quickly — like Episode 2 and Galentine’s, you can see the cracks that are happening. I love that we’re actually going to get to walk that journey with her this whole season, and not just save it for the end as a cliffhanger. It just makes it more interesting work for me to play something a little more nuanced, to know that every episode — no matter what Sam is doing — she also has that in her mind.

Why do you think Sam didn’t confide in Nell or Lexi before? 

Nell asks that exact question, and Sam tells the truth, which is that if I say it out loud, then it’s real. Maybe it’s just a tough moment in the marriage, and we’re going to get through it. So then, why say it? But it’s bigger than that and her life is changing. That’s a scary thing to say out loud, especially to the people you love the most, because they’re going to hold your hand and say, “OK, we’re going to do this.” What’s so beautiful about it is that Nell doesn’t make it about herself.

This realization also happens as Nell is considering motherhood. How do you think this moment might impact Nell as well?

We learned in Season 1 that it’s something [Nell has] always wanted, but she’s got a few steps before she can get there. She spends time with Sam’s daughter, and I think that makes her realize how much she loves children and how much she really does want to find the person that she can build her life with and have her family with. It’s really sweet between Sam and Nell, when they’re in different seasons of life, that they can support each other.

Sam has been consistently in the middle of Lexi and Nell as they have their rivalry. More broadly speaking, how do you see these dynamics shifting this season as Lexi’s dad enters the picture?

She’s still in a little push and pull between her friends, because Lexi is also going through a divorce and starting to date. So all the women are kind of in the same boat. Lexi’s also juggling her relationship with her father, her situation with Edward that is agitating Nell, because she has her boss, that she already struggles to have a relationship with, now in her home. Everything is layered. Sam is in that middle position where she is being pulled between everyone and is needed by everyone. It’s nice that she’s not just this mom who has it all together and is showing up to care for her friends whose lives are in disarray. She is also in disarray, just like most of us. I’m glad they didn’t make her one dimensional as the person who just shows up and helps everyone and goes back to her perfect life.

How do you hope viewers feel or what do you hope they take away from the episode?

I hope they love the season for the same reasons they did last season, which is it’s a really, really funny show, but — just like “New Girl” — It doesn’t shy away from real life and real life situations. I think that’s why “New Girl” was always so relatable, and people loved it, was that people went through real-life situations, and we found the humor and the heart in it. I feel like “Not Dead Yet” has that exact same type of feeling to it, where there’s the humor and the heart and it feels real and authentic.

What else can you tease for the rest of the season?

What I’m hoping for is that we really get to dive into her dating life because I think dating as a single mom — for my friends that have done it — sounds like a wild world, and you meet a lot of interesting personalities, so I am excited to see Sam start dating.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

“Not Dead yet” airs new episodes Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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