May 28, 2024

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Palm Royales Kristen Wiig, Josh Lucas, director Tate Taylor and writer and showrunner Abe Sylvia joined Deadline’s Contenders TV event Sunday to talk about the likability of the characters, some of the tough topics they’ve tackled and how the Palm Beach setting helped amplify the comedy of the show.

In its first season on Apple TV+, Kristen Wiig’s character, Maxine Simmons, is an ambitious woman who schemes to secure her seat at America’s most exclusive table: Palm Beach high society circa 1969. Along the way, Wiig’s character meets a number of personalities who play some part in this socialite town with an ensemble that includes Ricky Martin, Allison Janney, Laura Dern, Leslie Bibb, Josh Lucas and Carol Burnett.

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Abe Sylvia, Tate Taylor, Kristen Wiig and Josh Lucas speak on a panel for “Palm Royale” at Deadline Contenders Television 2024. (Photo by Rich Polk/Deadline via Getty Images)

When it came to whether audiences should be rooting for Simmons or not, Wiig said, “Maxine is very ambitious and will stop at nothing to get what she wants but that twist of being so sunny and positive while she is doing it, makes you think “Wait I think I like her.” We wanted to make her likable even though she was doing things that were not that likeable.”

RELATED: Contenders TV – Deadline’s Full Coverage

Based on the novel Mr. and Mrs. American Pie, Sylvia noted that the original book was set in Palm Springs but they chose to move it to Palm Beach as it gave the writers a “bigger canvas to play with.”

“We built out the world, a book is one thing but a sustainable series is another so you need to make sure you have all the pieces you need, so adding characters like Carol’s (Burnett) character and expanding Alison Janney’s character, so once we have a cast like this you go ‘Oh my goodness have we utilized everybody to their fullest potential.’ We wanted to leave nothing on the field when we got into production, so the scripts were constantly changing and evolving because we wanted to color with all of the crayons we had in our box,” Sylvia said.

The show would also touch on some sensitive subject matter, like the abortion storyline in the first episode. Sylvia made the point that the pilot was written before the Roe vs Wade reversal was even being talked about, and said as the shoot continued, it was simply impossible to not have what was going on in the real world influence the day-to-day shooting going forward.

“We are not a show that is chasing the headlines, but I think the writers are engaged enough of what has been going on in the world that you are going to be impressioned no matter what. As we were shooting the show, the subtle politics that are intrinsic to the DNA of the show, they sort of happened in spite of us. So as we are shooting the abortion storyline in the pilot, we could not believe that as the more things change, the more they stay the same,” Sylvia said.

The finale of the show has yet to air and while the panel was quiet on what to expect from that final episode, Sylvia had some fun with the audience of the theory that this entire season could all be a dream Simmons made inside her head.

“I think your choice of words is interesting, ‘Is It All A Dream’ because isn’t that true about all of Palm Beach. Isn’t everybody diluted in the show.” he says.

Check back Monday for the panel video

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