BRIGHT SESSIONS: Featured

On November 1, 2015, the podcast THE BRIGHT SESSIONS debuted. Written and produced by Lauren Shippen, the series began small, focusing on a therapist—Dr. Bright (Julia Morizawa) — and three of her clients, all revealed to have powers beyond those of average people.

Those original cast members were Shippen herself as the unwilling time traveler Sam, angry teen empath Caleb (Briggon Snow), and overwhelmed telepath Chloe (Anna Lore). In the time since the podcast has grown in scope and regard. Bright’s caseload increased with the likes of the dangerous Damien (Charlie Ian), combat vet Frank (Phillip Jordan), and nosy dream walker Rose (Alanna Fox).

The characters’ personal lives grew more complex as well as we met Adam (Alex Gallner), Mark (Andrew Nowak), Director Wadsworth (Alex Marshall-Brown), and Agent Green (Ian McQuown). On the production side, as well, Shippen received support from Mischa Stanton on audio design and Evan Cunningham as the BRIGHT SESSIONS’ music composer. 

Now boasting a world that has long since expanded far beyond Dr. Bright’s anonymous therapist’s office, BRIGHT SESSIONS managed a trick few podcasts pull off. While staying true to the characters, it has evolved the sensibility and focus of the show, largely without upsetting early adopter fans.

Now, over two and half years and four seasons later, Shippen and the rest of the cast are bringing the BRIGHT SESSIONS to a close with episode 56 this Wednesday, June 13. Shippen was gracious enough to sit down with us to talk the beginning of the BRIGHT SESSIONS, the end, and comes next in the BRIGHT SESSIONS’ world.

BRIGHT SESSIONS: Lauren
Multi-hyphenate Lauren Shippen–THE BRIGHT SESSIONS writer-creator-actress–gazes into the future. And possibly your soul. (Courtesy of The Bright Sessions)

ComicsVerse: When you first conceived of THE BRIGHT SESSIONS, did you begin as conceiving it as a podcast?

Lauren Shippen: Yeah, I did. I was acting out here in Los Angeles and wanted to write something that I could kind of control every part of. I had had the character of Sam—the character that I play in the podcast—for a little while and had been tossing around in my brain ideas of what to do with this character; this girl who can time travel and does not have actual control over it.

Initially [I] thought, “I think, maybe, I can make a podcast out of this.” I was listening to WELCOME TO NIGHTVALE at the time. I had been in web series and I had done short films and things kind of like that. So I knew, kinda, the amount of money and manpower and time those things took. I thought, “Ok, well maybe I can do something like NIGHTVALE where they are audio diaries.”

So I sort of tossed around the idea of having Sam’s time travels being a podcast. But then I realized I really didn’t want to listen to my voice just talk for 20 minutes straight. I didn’t think anyone else would either.

Then I thought, “Well maybe I could put her in conversation with somebody.” Then I had the idea that maybe she went to a therapist and the floodgates opened. All of the sudden there was this whole expansive world. It was, “ok, then who is this therapist?” “Are other patients special, too?” “What does that mean?” And then, yeah, it kind of just flowed from there.

It definitely started as a very simple audio fiction idea.

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CV: You mentioned that it opened the door up once you thought of the therapist angle. In the first set of episodes, they were sort of distinct and separate. Dr. Bright met with a client—be it Sam or someone else—and the next episode a different client, and so on. But there wasn’t much crossover or connection beyond them all being “atypicals” [the BRIGHT SESSIONS’ term for people with powers] and seeing Dr. Bright. That would change over time.

So, in conceiving of the series, did you intend it as distinct pieces and then, as you wrote and recorded it, the expanded world where they would connect and bounce off one another came into view? Or did you always kind of know that the series would move in that direction?

Lauren: I was playing a little bit with both.

Initially, I had written nine episodes which make up our first season. And, yes, it was originally three clients who have three episodes each. All therapy session episodes.

I structured it that way because I wanted to tell a number of stories and I had these friends I wanted to write for and have them act in these characters. So I gave them the nine scripts and said, “We’re going to do this and I’m going to edit it and we’ll see how we feel after we’re done recording it. Let it sit and see if we really want to do more.”

So doing it that was part of the emergency poll that I could grab if we decided that we didn’t want to do anymore. Then those three clients’ stories would still get out on their own.

But I definitely started to layer in stuff about Dr. Bright and about Chloe realizing that Dr. Bright has this other patient that might be nefarious. Just kind of teasing these other things with the hope that we would eventually do more, but not necessarily know exactly what that was going to look like.

When we got two or three episodes into recording, we were like, “Oh, this is really fun. We want to do more of this.” But definitely there was a possibility we would do the nine episodes, release them, and no one would listen. Or we wouldn’t have any fun doing it. Then it would be able to just live on its own forever.

BRIGHT SESSIONS: Logo
A logo for THE BRIGHT SESSIONS, which may be a visual pun. Perhaps. (Courtesy of The Bright Sessions)

CV: Well thankfully it didn’t go down like that.

Lauren: Yes [laughs] I’m very thankful.

CV: In terms of the psychological side of things, as someone who has been on both sides of the proverbial couch as a client and as a therapist, I’m very aware that portraying therapy one hundred percent accurately does not make—for dramatic purposes—the most exciting thing.

How did you—working with your sister [Elizabeth Laird] as a consultant—find a way to achieve some level of accuracy and still honor the fact that THE BRIGHT SESSIONS is entertainment?

Lauren: She [my sister] does have two degrees in psychology. She’s not currently a practicing therapist anymore. She works in humanitarian aid now. Still sort of psychology adjacent in a lot of ways but in a different sector.

But, yes, she consulted a lot on several of our episodes. For the most part, it is a lot about phrasing or certain exercises. Things like that.

There have certainly been times when she has said, “Ok, but a therapist would never do that.” And I’ve had to push back and say, “I know but this is science fiction and we need Dr. Bright to kind of be a bad therapist at this moment.” So it has definitely been about finding that balance.

I think for me—as someone who has benefited from therapy and absolutely considers myself an advocate for mental health—I think the thing we’ve always strived to communicate is talking about your feelings and going to a therapist is a good thing. Seeking help when you need it is a good thing. Hopefully, you will not find a therapist like Dr. Bright who has ulterior motives and blurs the lines a lot between her patient relationships and her friendships.

It has definitely been difficult to toe that line.

CV: You know, to just self-insert here for a moment, as a listener who was familiar with therapy, those moments play as accurate. Like, obviously powers are involved, but the errors or purposeful boundary violations Dr. Bright does, early on, are mistakes therapists make. So they are foreshadowing for sure but they never feel over the top.

You avoided the ones that a lot of writers love—like sleeping with a client—that are really huge violations and incredibly rare.

Lauren: Thank you.

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CV: As you began to grow the BRIGHT SESSIONS universe beyond those original three, did any of the characters—be it the three or Dr. Bright or any of the new ones—surprise you? Did you originally have different ideas for them but in the writing or performances, they kind of forced you to take them in a different direction?

Lauren: Oh yeah absolutely.

I think Dr. Bright probably changed the most for her original conception. I initially kind of wanted her to be—my first thought process—I think the benefit of framing the first season in therapy sessions is we don’t learn much about Dr. Bright, we are learning about her clients. I could have her express things and get to know her a bit, but I could really keep a lot of things vague. I could take action on them later without having to make any strong decisions in those first episodes.

When I was writing the first season I thought, eventually, she would become much more of a villain. She would go down a darker path and maybe have to work her way up to redemption.

There are certain things she’s done that are not good. She has the things she does not need to redeem herself from. But when we did our first table read of the first episodes—just the four of us [Morizawa, Shippen, Lore, and Snow]—hearing Julia taking on the character and the kind of vulnerability and humanity she brought to Dr. Bright ended up changing the way I thought of her and what I ended up doing with her. I made the motives you are kind of picking up on in the first season more personal than initially conceived in my head.

That, I think, was a very early, early change.

The other really big one is Damien, one of our antagonists. I had a clear-cut idea about [him] and was not going to use as much as he ends up being in the show. That was another thing where I think having the actor view that character as a protagonist in his own mind. The way that Charlie approached him, making him the hero of his own story in his mind, makes him a lot more likable than he was written. A lot more compelling. So exploring that and exploring his relationship with a lot of the other characters was definitely a surprise that came out of the organic chemistry you get in a room with an actor, a set of actors.

BRIGHT SESSIONS: Motto
The Bright Sessions’ motto. Graphic design by cast member Anna Lore. (Courtesy of The Bright Sessions)

CV: Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’ve written every episode of the BRIGHT SESSIONS, right?

Lauren: Yeah, I’ve written all of the episodes. That will change a little bit for our future stuff—which we can talk in a little bit. Out of the 56 main episodes and all of the mini-episodes, I’ve written them all on my own. I’ve gotten notes from people, but the writing has been a solo endeavor.

CV: Wow, that’s incredible.

Lauren: Yes. [laughs] Been a lot of work, but it’s been fun.

CV: I can absolutely imagine so. That means, even taking into account how seeing performances has influenced you and such, ultimately you are the authorial voice of the BRIGHT SESSIONS. With that in mind, any character or characters you have found a particular challenge to tackle? Any proven to be a joy?

Lauren: Hmm…I think the character that took me—that sort of ended up being more challenging than I expected her to be was Chloe. I wrote her for Anna Lore who is one of my dearest friends and an incredible talent actress.

One of the things I’ve found frustrating in a lot of superhero narratives and people with power narrative is telepathy and the idea of mind reading as a benefit. To me to be able to read people’s thoughts and not being able to turn it off sounds like a nightmare. So we really wanted to explore that and how invasive it would be.

Then the reality of actually writing a character who is having multiple conversations because she’s hearing people’s thoughts—just from a sheer dialogue construction angle—turned out to be challenging.

So much so that eventually Anna was like, “Can you put the stuff that she is hearing and responding to in people’s thoughts on the script in a different color so I can know what she is hearing and responding to.” Because oftentimes, Chloe is responding to things that aren’t being said and particularly an audio-only medium where they aren’t a visual cue to signal she’s hearing something, writing that can be a technical challenge. It is not necessarily a character challenge, but figuring out how those conversations go. Especially if you put her in a room with multiple people, it can get messy.

I think the one character that surprised me the most, the one I’ve enjoyed discovering, has been Agent Green. He’s a secondary character for a lot of the show. He’s not a bad person, but he’s not a good person, either. Exploring him and his motivations—what he wants from Dr. Bright, what he wants out of his own life and his work—has been really interesting. I think the energy that Ian has brought to that character has made him a lot of fun to write for.

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CV: When you started the BRIGHT SESSIONS, it was—and remains—in the midst of this superhero narratives in film boom. I imagine that is both good and bad. Because it gives you a lot to look at and compare to but it also gives you a lot to look at and compare to. In terms of conceiving your universe which tends to be a lot more grounded and down to earth—I guess, first of all, why did that feel right for you and the story you wanted to tell with the BRIGHT SESSIONS? And second, how did you resist the temptation to just blow the doors off the thing in a medium where your budget wouldn’t have to change all that much to make it happen.

Lauren: Yeah, that’s a really good question.

I think the answer, really, to both of those is the same. I love superhero media. And, I love sci-fi tv shows. I’m huge into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and all that kind of stuff.

While I look a great explosion and a good fight scene, big epic battles and stuff like that, increasingly, with all the media that has come out in the past ten years, I find myself craving character moments. Wanting to see these characters in their lives, interact with each other more, get into how all this stuff that happens—all this big epic stuff—actually affects them.

I’ve not read a lot of it, but Matt Fraction’s HAWKEYE comics where he owns this building and drinks coffee and has a dog, I love that kind of stuff. I think it is so much fun. It is not the kind of thing you are going to explore in a 200 million dollar film.

So I think, for me, that was my intention.

Especially in the audio format where things are just inherently so intimate that being able to use that to explore those more intimate and personal moments. Then the temptation to blow the doors off and get really big and smashy-smashy explodey-explodey isn’t really there. That part of my brain is being fed by the movies that I’m seeing, the TV that I’m watching.

It’s fun to dig into what happens when you put two empaths in a room with a bunch of drunk people? How is that going to turn out? How is that going to affect the relationships of the people in the room? All those quieter moments.

I think that’s one of the reasons the show has found an audience because I think there are a lot of people like me who love those epic things but also want the smaller stuff too. It’s great we live in a world where you can find both those things.

BRIGHT SESSIONS: Cast and Crew
The full cast and crew of THE BRIGHT SESSIONS. Our interviewee is second from the right in the front row. (Courtesy of The Bright Sessions)

CV: You also play a character in the BRIGHT SESSIONS. You touched on this briefly above when you mentioned not wanting to hear your voice all the time but I imagine there is a temptation to completely minimize Sam as a result. On the other hand, and maybe this is because of my own ego, I imagine it goes the other way too, wanting to write the biggest more important part for yourself. How did you find the proper balance and role for Sam in the context of the larger story?

Lauren: I think that it’s because I feel both of those things simultaneously all the time. I like acting and I like putting myself into things and writing things for myself and also, I hate editing myself. I’m sick of hearing my own voice all the time because I edit all the dialogue.

In my mind, so much of the show is Sam’s story. It begins with her. Her relationship with Dr. Bright is really what the core of the show is. I think that that’s partly because of behind the scenes stuff. My own journey with Sam and with Julia and the whole cast and with the project. It feels like her and Dr. Bright’s story, what they do together, and all the people that orbit around them.

I think I don’t fall into the temptation to write a bunch of Sam episodes because I really love watching all the actors perform. I always want to dig into those characters and give them more stuff. For me—as a writer and a director—it is so fulfilling to watch that happen. I never really want to wallow in Sam too much.

CV: A thing that the show has really made sure to incorporate is themes of diversity. It is particularly relevant this time in comics with a lot of pushback against characters of color, women, non-straight characters and so on, as well as the recent news of Kelly Marie Tran, possibly being forced off Instagram by hateful comments from people who claim they are real Star Wars fans.

Your “universe” is considerably more diverse than those. In terms of sexuality, there is a client who identifies as ace, bisexual characters, a teenage gay male couple and so on. There is a war veteran recovering from PTSD. A variety of socioeconomic and family statuses. Extra-textually, as well, you have an Asian woman depicting your titular character Dr. Bright. So there is a whole “soup” of diversity on multiple levels.

When you started the BRIGHT SESSIONS, did you have an objective to be diverse or is it something that just developed as you went, in the same way, that say, Damien ended up showing up a lot more?

Lauren: I think that is was a little bit of both.

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I think that, certainly, when casting [BRIGHT SESSIONS] initially it didn’t really occur to me that having an Asian American woman at the center of the show, being the title character, would be something of a statement. But it is something that a lot of people have been happy to see and I love that Julia has gotten that attention.

In my mind, though, I was just watching this incredible actress in a class we were in together and thinking, “God, I want to write something for her.” To me, it was Julia versus making a point to cast a woman of color in that role.

I think from a gender divide perspective, that was very intentional from day 1. That was part of the reason that I wrote it. I was getting very frustrated as an actor seeing the breakdowns coming into my inbox every day that described female characters just by their physical traits and nothing else. Reading scripts where the women didn’t really have anything to do. So certainly having the first four characters be three women and a queer dude was definitely intentional.

I think the rest of it kind of just happened. Especially with the sexuality piece.

It’s funny. We get the occasional very homophobic review on iTunes and one of the things people will say is, “It’s unrealistic to have this many queer people in a group because they’re only five percent of the population,” or whatever.

I always say that’s not how queer communities work. As a bisexual person myself I look around at my friends and I would 60 percent of the people that I know as LGBT because, you know, you find each other. In the same way, that “atypicals” find each other. I think it reflects not only our team [on the BRIGHT SESSIONS] but also our larger community in L.A.

In terms of casting and things like that, I think after the first two seasons I started to actively think about, “ok, even though the race an actor doesn’t necessarily correspond to the race of the character, I want to be more intentional about widening my net, getting more people of color in here and getting people of different ages and different experiences, things like that.”

So there has definitely been some intentionality but I don’t think it is beneficial to anyone to make a diversity checklist and go through it as you are writing. I think it is good to step back and look at your work and say, “ok, am I being too narrow? Am I being open to the possibilities here? Have I looked at every option?” But people are going to feel it if it is a checklist if it is not coming from a genuine place.

BRIGHT SESSIONS: Second Logo
Another BRIGHT SESSIONS logo, which also helpfully points the way to a job as an adult cashier. (Courtesy of The Bright Sessions)

CV: Speaking as a BRIGHT SESSIONS listener again, I’ve appreciated the variety of states we’ve encounter clients in. We’ve met some already secure in their conceptions of themselves, people who have grown into it over the course of the series and people who—well wrestling isn’t quite the right word, but—figuring out who they’re attracted to and why. Processing it.

For instance, Damien and Dr. Bright’s brother Mark. The ground was never firm for either of them about how they felt about one another but it was clear something was there. It made sense given Damien has never had to think about who he is inside because until then whatever he thought he wanted he just got.

Lauren: Yes. That was one of things that came purely out of actor chemistry. I had no intentions for that.

I knew Mark was bisexual and that was established previously. But then I put Charlie and Andrew in a room together—who are two straight men—and their chemistry was just off the charts amazing. I was like, “ok, well now this is an interesting dynamic.” I think it was something inherent in who those characters are and because Charlie and Andrew know them so well they found what was already there that I didn’t even know was there yet.

Damien is a great example of someone without a defined sexuality. It’s complicated. He is grappling with stuff and there is not necessarily going to be a clear answer. I think that is something we see more and more in media. These relationships between people of opposite genders or the same genders that are not quite platonic but not quite explicitly romantic or sexual. That is just very complicated. I think that’s so interesting. Why wouldn’t you want to explore that kind of stuff?

CV: In addition to character diversity, the BRIGHT SESSIONS also presented with an opportunity to experiment with storytelling diversity. The most striking and most recent example of this is the musical episode from a month or two ago. How much experience did you have writing music and/or lyrics before this?

Lauren: Very little.

For context, I grew up in New York and am definitely a Broadway baby. My parents are big musical theatre fans. I spent a lot of my adolescence thinking that I was going to go Broadway after college. That was my intention.

I was a music major in college. After that, I realized I really loved performing musical theatre, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that 8 times a week for a year, working on the same show. I wanted to dig into character a little bit more so I ended up moving out to LA rather than back to New York.

So I certainly have a lot of musical theatre experience in terms of performing it and watching it, and writing papers on it, and studying the musicology of it. All that kind of stuff.

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But in terms of actually writing songs myself? I think, like a lot of emo teenagers, I tried my hand at writing songs and playing them on guitar when I was 14. Certainly, nothing I would ever share with the world though.

So this had been a bucket list kind of thing. Thankfully Evan Cunningham—who composed all [THE BRIGHT SESSIONS] ad and credit music—got to LA two years ago. He was one of my best friends in college, we sang a cappella together. We are always trying to find ways to do stuff together, perform together, make more things.

When I approached him—I guess it was, oh gosh, like a year ago—last June and asked, “Would you wanna do this maybe? Would you be willing?” He said yes. He’s a brilliant songwriter so that made the experience a lot less daunting.

 CV: I know you said it was a lot less daunting, but can you explore that a bit more. Given that doing a musical episode of THE BRIGHT SESSIONS was on your bucket list, was it just a blast? Was it stressful? How did it compare to the usual episode?

Lauren: Different parts were different levels of stress. It was certainly the most work-intensive episode we’ve ever made. It just like half the season’s budget. And, it was a big, big undertaking.

I had been sort of planting the seeds for it from [BRIGHT SESSIONS] episode 30 when Rose first appears. She’s our way in and I made her ability what it was—dream walking—because I knew I wanted to maybe do this someday if I had the capacity to do it.

Once I realized Evan was going to be in LA and he was onboard, I said, “This is going to come out in March of next year, what’s the schedule that we need to make this happen.”

So I took the summer to write the script and the lyrics. Then in the fall of last year, we go together to write the songs and that was the easiest and most fun part of it all, actually. It took us about four hours to write all the songs. We had lyrics and we had both know these characters so intimately. He had obviously listened to every episode of the podcast. It was just like a breeze.

I told him the direction I wanted to take things, used a couple of songs as reference points. We just noodled around on the piano. He kind of fixed up my lyrics. We came up with melodies. That part was so much fun and so low stress.

BRIGHT SESSIONS: Julia and Mark's Notebook
A notebook of correspondence between Dr. Bright and her brother during their younger years. Created by actor Julia Morizawa as part of the BRIGHT SESSIONS extras. (Courtesy of The Bright Sessions)

Then the actual production. That was certainly stressful just in terms of rehearsing everybody and recording everything, getting the instrumentalists, then, of course, designing the soundscape of it. That was something where—typically the way that production works is I record or Mischa and I both record together. Then I edit all the dialogue and send it to Mischa and they do the sound design and send it back to me. I put the credits on it and send it to Evan and he does the closing. We are kind of isolated in these little spots in LA.

For this one though, we sat in front of a computer and listened to the episode together and built the soundscape together to a certain point. That was really challenging, really rewarding, but there were no established rules for what we were doing. Incorporating music into the sound design was a completely new thing for us. So that was definitely difficult in terms of we were editing it right down to the wire. Definitely a little bit stressful, but I’m really happy with the results.

CV: A few months ago, you announced that the series was heading towards wrapping up the main part or the first part—however, you’d put it—of what might end up being kind of the BRIGHT SESSIONS saga. How long had you known before you announced it that this was it?

Lauren: I think we were recording the end of season three and I was starting to tell the actors that there was probably a 15 percent chance that it will change, but the next season was probably going to be the last. So that would’ve been over a year ago.

Then by the time, I started to write season 4 and I had kind of planned out what the season would look like and what the episodes would be I knew that this would be the last. So definitely since last summer.

I don’t want to overstay our welcome. I think that it’s really easy to do that, especially when you are doing something that’s on its way up. AI certainly know that I’m not the only person that has watched a TV show and felt it go a couple seasons too long.

Also just from a practical production and format perspective, we are kinda limited in terms of what we do. To maintain seasons of 16 episodes each that have a hiatus between them of only about three months, that would be increasingly hard.

I think the story has been coming to natural close for awhile in my mind. At the end of season three, there is a big two-part episode that is the climax of the whole series. Season four has been the aftermath, the denouement from that. So to me, it has been a long time coming

I’ve had an idea of how it would end. I think it is the best way without dragging things out too long.

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CV: In terms of the actors’ response to it, had they felt similarly, were they upset, did they beg for it to continue, or, God forbid, were they relieved to be done? What was their reaction to the news?

Lauren: [laugh] I hope there wasn’t any relief. No one expressed such to me, so hopefully not.

There has definitely been a mourning period. I think there is been a reluctance from them to have it end because we have all had a really good time doing it. But I also think they understand that this is where it is going.

Certainly for the people who are most involved—our central cast—those are the people who have been reluctant to leave these characters behind, they know they aren’t done. Specifically Julia and Briggon. Caleb is getting a spinoff in 2020 and Julia is doing these nine bonus episodes [as Dr. Bright] so there is definitely an understanding that this is AN ending, but I don’t have to hang up my hat for this character quite yet. I think that eases the pain a little bit. For all of us, I think.

I would’ve had a hard time too. We recorded our final episode a couple of weeks ago—actually last week—and everybody was like, “Oh how are you feeling?” “Is it weird to have it over?” “Are you going to be really sad?”

And I’m like, “I’m already deep into production into these other bonus episodes.” I think I would’ve had a very hard time with it if it had just abruptly ended. This way is a nice easing out.

CV: That actually leads nicely to the next question. As you were writing towards the BRIGHT SESSIONS conclusion, were there moments where you found yourself thinking, “Oh that might be interesting to pursue,” but then realizing you couldn’t because you had to write to that end?

Lauren: Oh totally. Yeah.

I think that has been something that I have experienced throughout. That’s actually part of the reasons I kind of want to branch off to these other things. There have been these big plot paths that I haven’t wanted to go down that I just couldn’t because there is only so much you can do in a drama like this. It has a central plot but ultimately, it is just a character dram examining these people’s personal struggles. There have been some more plot-driven things I wanted to explore that then would’ve essentially become the main plot in a way that would be antithetical to the show that the BRIGHT SESSIONS is.

BRIGHT SESSIONS: More Design
A further example of the BRIGHT SESSIONS’ visual aesthetic from Anna Lore’s graphic design. (Courtesy of The Bright Sessions)

So those things have been repurposed into these two spinoffs that we are doing. There are two major plot things that I have known about for a long time and that I’ve been waiting a long time to reveal to the audience. One of them is a world-building thing. The other of which is a fairly significant character point or would be, were it revealed. In writing the end of the season I realized I could not do that second one because that completely blows things up in a certain way, at least for one character, and I would another season to deal with that. So I ended up going another way.

Even with that, I was like, “Oh man, am I revealing too much of this? Am I opening this door and then not walking through it?” Then there was the anxiety about that.

The plot point, the world building one, was in the latest episode. So far the fan reaction to it has been,

“I wonder if that’s where the spinoffs are going.”

There is definitely an element of laying the groundwork for future things, done in a way that doesn’t take away from the character developments. But yes, there are always story points that I’m not getting to.

CV: On the subject of the spinoffs, let’s talk first about the BRIGHT SESSIONS’ bonus episodes. What can you say about them to get people interested without spoiling anything?

Lauren: The bonus episodes are definitely for listeners that love the therapy format and the exploration of abilities. They exist because our wonderful patrons on Patreon helped us reach a goal. And, that enabled us to do these nine episodes.

The reason there is nine of them is that when we meet Dr. Bright, we learn that Sam is patient 12, Caleb is patient 11 and later we find that Caleb is patient number five. That means that there are nine other people that Dr. Bright either has been seeing or saw in the past that we don’t know anything about. So these episodes are going to be focused on each of those clients.

They all take place in the timeline directly before and during the first two seasons of the show. They’ll just be one-off self-contained therapy exercises. They are not coming out in any particular order. They’re just a way to build out the world a little more and offer little snippets of who these other people are.

CV: The BRIGHT SESSIONS spinoff you specifically mentioned was Caleb’s. We haven’t talked much about him, so maybe, if you could, give a brief sketch of who he is. And, then, as best as you can, talk about what the spinoff has in store for him?

Lauren: Caleb, when we meet him, is 16. He’s kind of a surly high school football player who has an empath ability. He can feel the feelings of the people around him.

Over the course of the show, he grows to like this ability and falls in love. We see some of the complications of falling in love when you can also feel the feelings of the person you are falling in love with.

The spinoff, in 2020, will meet Caleb at a new point in his life. He’s a little bit further down the line. He’s graduated high school and gone on to the next thing.

And…yeah, I’m not going to say any more than that. It’s Caleb a couple of years from now.

The first spinoff I can’t tell you anything about. It comes out next April and the logline of it directly spoils the finale. So, that’s something you’ll hear about when we release our final episode.

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