Please Like Me went into development when you were 19, before you’d come out or even discovered your sexual orientation. So I was wondering what issues the show would’ve tackled if you hadn’t realized you were gay. Not that it centers around gayness, but it certainly centers around desire and romantic relationships. How would that have worked when you were in a place where you knew yourself less?
It was pretty similar, actually. It was just with girls. I dated girls, back then. And funny things were happening on dates. That date in Season 1 when Josh is on an awkward date with Geoffrey was based on an actual date I had with a girl. We just swapped them out. Which I think was part of the reason why the show was quite good at not treating the gay relationships that differently — they had this structure already where Geoffrey was a girl. A lot of the story got ripped out and changed and obviously we had to put like, coming out in, and that changed a lot of it. There are a few things where it would’ve been exactly the same but with a girl. Like there’s a scene in Episode 1, that was just going to be a scene where Josh makes out with a girl and the girl was really bad and Josh leaves and it’s funny and humiliating and then Josh wakes up and feels really embarrassed and gets this awful news about his mum. And it just turned into what it was.
So did you have a whole season written before?
It was just at the beginning of development. We had episode outlines, basically. I know there’s a script lying around where Geoffrey is called Suzanne.
Speaking of Geoffrey, or “Suzanne,” you’ve both broken up with and killed off a couple of really amazing characters, and ones that provided a very specific energy to the show. When do you know you’re done with a character?
If you’re going to kill a character, you have to kill a character people like. People were heartbroken when we killed Aunt Peg. Death is obviously a big thing in the show, probably an extension of the fact that in the first episode someone almost kills themselves. For me, and I don’t think anybody else has this in their heads, but for me there’s this overarching thing of like, Mum might not exist. If she had just taken a few extra pills, or if something slightly different had happened, this whole world could be different. I feel like dealing with death at the end of the first season was important. You have to kill someone you love.
Geoffrey was hard [to break up with] because he’s so popular. But [Josh and Geoffrey] don’t get along. We were throwing around the idea of them being friends, but they don’t get along! That’s why their relationship isn’t working. And I don’t believe that they should or would be together. We just got rid of him because I thought it was the truth.
The Season 2 finale will air tonight on Pivot at 10:30 pm.