The second season of Trying, an Apple TV+ Original series, premieres today. We chatted with the charismatic and talented protagonists, Esther Smith and Rafe Spall, about their feelings about this second season and what they love the most about playing their characters, Nikki and Jason.
Produced by BBC Studios, Trying’s first season follows a British couple as they confront the trials and tribulations of the adoption process, after confronting the fact that they won’t be able to have biological children.
The second season picks up after Nikki and Jason have been approved by the adoption panel and now are trying to complete the process of matching with a child. The charming couple navigates even more complex emotions now that they are closer to achieving what they were longing for. Complex emotions like the feeling of not measuring up to other people’s standards of parenthood and the unfulfilled wish of theirs to connect with a child. Up-and-coming British pop singer Maisie Peters –who made a cameo singing with her guitar on season one– composed this season’s soundtrack, writing and performing one song for the ending of each episode, wonderfully capturing the essence of what happened in the plot.
The season takes a turn when Nikki meets a girl named Princess, who she feels in her heart should be the child they take into their family. But, will they be able to overcome the obstacles they now find in their way? Is the couple ready to be parents? Is the universe finally ready to let them? Watch season 2 to find out!
The first two episodes of Trying‘s season 2 will debut globally today (May 21st) and one of the remaining six episodes will be released every Friday. And a third season has already been commissioned by Apple!
Read or listen to our full interview with Esther Smith and Rafe Spall below.
How did it feel to walk hand in hand with your characters considering the ups and downs we see in the second season?
RAFE SPALL: It’s great, it’s a real joy to play, you know, you want to play characters that cover the full spectrum of human emotion, you want to play people that are able to feel deeply, who are able to laugh, who are able to fall short of their own expectations, who are able to get themselves into situations that they might not have planned on, and to play people that have a huge capacity for love, and to want to do the right thing and I think that’s the thing that underpins this show. It’s about the triumph of love, and about how things get for these two people. They adore each other and I think that’s really beautiful.
How do you feel about the evolution of your characters’ relationship during this season? Is there anything you would like to anticipate to the fans before watching?
ESTHER SMITH: Yeah, well, you know obviously they’ve gone through this huge journey together from series one, to try and get approved at panel, which they get approved, which is brilliant. But then, the journey just doesn’t end there. It’s still incredibly difficult after that to try and to be matched with a child because there’s loads of competition. There’s also lots of hurdles to jump through, and especially when they meet a child that they fall in love with. And then, the potential for rejection, then feels huge –and for heartbreak– feels huge. So I think as a couple, they’re still going through this very hard thing together. And I think it bonds them even more. And I think what’s lovely is seeing these two people navigate that world together, and how they deal with it. And with that, you know there’s a lot of heartbreak, but there’s also a lot of humour with that because they do find themselves in some very funny situations but it’s because they really want, they really want this child. And so they will do anything to try and get the child that they want.
Besides the relation to the adoption process, what would you say the title ‘Trying‘ gives to the show?
RAFE SPALL: Yeah, I mean, only a small percentage of the audience will know what it’s like to try and adopt a child. And then, there will also be a large percentage of the audience who aren’t interested in having children at all so I think the title of the show is universal, because we all know what it’s like to feel like something’s missing in our lives and to feel like there’s a hole inside us and needs filling. I think that comes at quite a specific place in the 30s, maybe even earlier for some people. And I think we all try to do the right thing, right? We all try to be as good as we can, we all try to improve our lives, and that of the people around us, and I think that’s really identifiable. So that’s why I think the title of the show is so all-encompassing and kind of perfect.
Did you ever feel really touched or overwhelmed by the emotional story you were portraying?
ESTHER SMITH: Yeah, I mean, I’m constantly overwhelmed. I think as a person, but particularly with this story, you know, it’s a lot of people’s reality, this journey, and it’s hard. It’s really hard. It’s heartbreaking and you want them to do well and, even though I, you know, especially like even in series one, when I was reading it from the off, I was found myself crying and laughing in equal measure which is how I knew I really wanted to do it ’cause I was like, “If it’s making me do these both things, it’s a really special script.” But then, when I watched it back, I knew what was gonna happen in series one and I still found myself just weeping lots of moments. And even filming it, you know, I think you can’t help but be touched by their story. And, yeah, that’s lovely. That’s a real testament to Andy as a writer, as well, and how he touches upon that.
RAFE SPALL: We, as actors are so invested in the show we feel such a sort of connection to it and a deep love for these characters that we play that, so much so that when it comes to finishing filming a season there’s a real feeling of grief, you know, we say goodbye to these characters but also to each other and to these people that become your family for three months or whatever. It’s really difficult, you never get used to it. You know, we all already get on, we all really like each other, the people that made the show, which is really beautiful.
What is it that you admire the most from your characters?
RAFE SPALL: I think their resilience. The fact that no matter the setback, they keep going, they keep getting up, they keep dusting themselves off. If anything, they get stronger, the harder it becomes, the stronger they as a couple become. And, you know, just like real life, you only really learn about yourself when bad things happen. That’s the case with these characters. They’re growing, they’re maturing, they’re getting older, they’re deepening. And that’s really lovely, really lovely to play, and I hope to watch, too.
Now that you have closer relationships to your characters’ family, did it make a difference for you during the production?
ESTHER SMITH: It felt like the same as season one, we all got on during season one. That just kind of continued, which is so lovely, I guess with time you know each other more, so inevitably, you do feel closer but it’s always felt like there’s always been a real close bond with everyone. Such a lovely group of people. I feel like everyone says that after a job but it’s true! It’s such a lovely family, even like with, you know, with the crew and also, that’s what made it so special to come back for season two, because obviously we filmed it during the pandemic. It’s been a really hard year for a lot of people so to know that we could come back to this family was really lovely, it was really special.
RAFE SPALL: Yeah, we can’t wait to do it again, you know, we’re gonna do a third season this year and we’re really excited to do it again.
Was it very different or complicated to record now during the pandemic?
RAFE SPALL: Yeah, very different, and also complicated. Yeah, it was definitely a test, we were operating under a lot of restrictions. Safety was, of course, everyone’s first concern, but the quality of the show hasn’t been compromised, it’s still got everything that the first season had if not more, and think we’re just both very grateful that in this climate we were able to get back to work, do what we love. And even though things were different, as humans you’re very adaptable, we get used to it pretty soon. And you, you know, concentrate on the positives, which is that we’re back doing a job that we love and we’re very privileged to say that we’ve done that.
What do you think fans could love the most from the new season?
ESTHER SMITH: I think spending more time in the company of Nikki and Jason. I think that’s always lovely, I think personally it’s a lovely place to be in their company because I find them hilarious and, yeah, funny. I also think as well this season the world has opened up a bit more, we’re seeing more of the other characters and their stories and how they’re trying to overcome various obstacles in their life, and how they deal with that. And, you know, kind of makes you realise that we’re all just trying to get through it and we’re all just trying to figure out who we are and what we are in. And that applies to every single one of us. None of us gets away scot free. Yeah I think that’s something that people enjoy as well.
What do you think makes Trying unique in relation to other TV shows about adoption or parenting?
RAFE SPALL: I think it’s got a very particular atmosphere and energy. And the writer, I think he’s got an original voice, and I think it does a really good job of balancing comedy and drama and that isn’t always easy. I think that it’s fresh, funny, I think that it’s got a really lovable couple at the centre, and they seem like people that we know, you know, because they’re normal people. They’re not fancy people, they’re normal people. And I’m really proud to be to be representing, you know– they’re like the characters that are like in the back of the pub in another film, you know what I mean? They’re like the other people in films, and I’m really pleased to be to be representing them.
What would you say to people who haven’t watched the series yet at all, for them to watch the whole seasons now that it comes out? So, how would you invite them to watch the series if they don’t know anything about it?
ESTHER SMITH: I’d say it’s a show about two people, trying to figure out what it means to be in their 30s, trying to figure out what it means to exist in a life where things haven’t gone to plan. And, as well as it being, you know, a show about adoption and two people trying to navigate that journey which is a hard emotional journey. It’s a show full of love and joy and hope and a real model for, I think for everyone, trying to figure out what the hell life is (giggles) and what it means.
RAFE SPALL: Yeah, you know, it’s a half an hour, like I guarantee you, you watch one episode, you’re gonna want to watch them all. It’s one of those shows that you just want to watch back to back to back, it’s so easy to watch, it’s funny, it’s heartbreaking, it’s representative of people that you might know, it’s got something for everyone. And if you’ve got an iPhone it’s free!
Trying’s season 2 is now available on Apple TV+. Start watching with 7 days free, and then $4.99/month, or 1 year free when you buy an eligible Apple device.