(Warning: This post includes spoilers for the Season 1 finale of “Schmigadoon!”)
The first season of Apple TV+’s Lorne Michaels-produced musical comedy “Schmigadoon!” ended Friday with a cliffhanger finale that left fans wondering whether or not Melissa (Cecily Strong) and Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) are able to cross that bridge out of the magical hidden town of Schmigadoon or not. And series creator Cinco Paul tells TheWrap that loose end is one he’s excited about, whether the show gets renewed for Season 2, because he didn’t want this fantastical story to be tied up neatly.
“It was really important to me that this show be about trying to make a relationship work, as opposed to two people falling in love and the magic of that. Because I feel like there’s not enough romantic comedies about three or four years later and how you sustain love and how you keep it going,” Paul said. “It felt like it would be too much of a cheat if it were just to be a clear, easy happily ever after. Because those just don’t exist.”
Paul added: “My concept from the beginning was it should always be a little bit of a question in the viewers mind what happens. I didn’t want to show them crossing the bridge and leaving. But also, I will say that, as happy and thrilled as I am that this crazy show actually got made and we got to do it and I would be happy if that were it — I do have some pretty specific ideas about how the story could continue. And fingers crossed, we all get to explore those together.”
Fingers crossed indeed, because even though we’re willing to accept the cliffhanger ending as a reality of life, we want to know what’s next to Melissa and Josh, now that they’ve reunited and have decided they are each other’s true love — no matter if they are able to cross that true-love-detecting bridge out of Schmigadoon together or not.
That choice to make it work came just before the end of the finale episode, titled “How We Change,” when Melissa and Paul accepted the flaws in themselves and each other and decided to risk every messy part of them rather than settle for another seemingly perfect relationship that wasn’t the right fit. This led to one of the most heartfelt moments of the whole series: The first and only time Josh sings during the first season, as it’s a song about his love for Melissa.
“From the very get-go, once we knew what the show was going to be and that we were going to have this limited amount of episodes, I knew that that was really going to be what everything was building to, this moment,” Paul says. “So it was really important to withhold it from the audience and from Melissa until that moment so it would have the most impact. And you want it to feel inevitable, but still impactful when it happens. And I will tell you, the very first table read we did — this is just as part of the writers’ room, we did these table reads — and everybody around the table was in tears when he finally gave in and sang. And that’s when I felt like, ‘OK, this is going to work,’ but you have to withhold it.”
He added: “And it’s classic. It’s ‘Christmas Carol,’ it’s ‘Grinch,’ it’s all those things. If someone withholds something, when they finally let it out, it’s just such a cathartic, emotional thing. And that’s what we were going for from the very beginning.”