NYCC Interview: Shining Vale co-creator and showrunner Jeff Astrof spoke to The Natural Aristocrat® about Shining Vale Season 2, TV ratings, and if he’s already written the show’s future ending.
This roundtable press interview with Jeff Astrof took place during New York Comic Con 2023.
Did You Know: Jeff Astrof was also the Executive Story Editor on 47 episodes of Courtney Cox’ TV series Friends.
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THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT (NIR REGEV): There was a STARZ show named Boss staring Kelsey Grammer that was highly critically acclaimed but ending up getting canceled due to declining viewership after 2 seasons.
How much do you look into Shining Vale’s TV ratings from week to week and does this sort of thing impact you creatively?
JEFF ASTROF: So the good news is they don’t tell me what the numbers are. I believe we just had a little bit of a strike because of that. And I think there’s gonna be more transparency.
The irony is that they know exactly how many people watch. Network TV… It’s always like you have one kid from high school who turns the TV on ’cause he sees something he knows and then it’s like, ‘Wow, a hundred thousand viewers!’
I can’t pay attention to that. I can’t pay attention even when casting it. We have Mira Sorvino, Greg Kinnear, and Courtney Cox and so many other stars that you feel, ‘Wow, this is gonna get big numbers!’
But it doesn’t really affect me. ‘Cause I, I write the show I wanna write and then these characters were cast. I didn’t write it around any of the actors. The actors happened to be great and I love that.
So yes, I’m scared to death that they’re gonna say only 50,000 people saw the show and that’s not enough to keep this going.
With everybody, there’s that tension of would you rather have a mediocre show that does really, really well and stays on the air for a long time? Yes.
Or a great show that is a flash in a pan and you have two amazing seasons and then no more? But you could be proud of it.
I as somebody who has to pay the bills, I’d rather have a great show that goes seven years. So, you know, every writer thinks about the numbers, but I’m in the box also, you have no control over that. That’s something you really have no control over.
STARZ have done a great job this year of marketing. So really if it doesn’t do well, it’s on me and I don’t care for that.
-> Timestamp: 10:13:37
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: As a writer, do you prefer continuity with series easter eggs on Shining Vale or do you prefer to start episodes somewhat fresh for those who may be tuning in for the first time?
JEFF ASTROF: That’s the tension again, growing up in network tv you kind of have to- I think even that’s the instinct now is what if people haven’t seen the show?
I wanna write for fans of the show. I mean there was a ‘Previously on’ and I think that that covers it. I don’t like saying, ‘Well you remember I was hospitalized, you remember we used to fight a lot ’cause of the affair.’
I like to give credit to the fans. That to me is more fun to write as if there wasn’t two years between the episodes. Where, the people have binged the first season and are like dying to find out what happens next.
I mean you always have to pay attention to that. And the network and the studio were always like, you know, for the people who didn’t see the first season…
It’s like, well you have to see the first season. But as a writer I like assuming that my audience is as smart as we are.
-> Timestamp: 20:05:36
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Do you believe in working your way backwards as a writer? Essentially, writing Shining Vale’s ending first and then finding out how to get there?
They had the gun in the trunk and they had to get there. So sometimes we do that. I knew that Shining Vale Season 1 was gonna end with the fight on the stairs and Pat being institutionalized. Spoiler alert!
So we wrote a little bit ahead… We knew that we had an end there. I think knowing the ending is great!
I don’t go backwards. I was just like, this is what we’re riding towards.
I think the short answer is yes, I know. I love knowing where we’re going. I like knowing what the act break of the season is, what’s gonna happen at the end of Season 2 Episode 4, and what’s gonna happen at the end of Episode 8.
So I do. I know that because that’s how we broke Friends> and friends, we knew episode 13 was gonna be this and then what episode 24- God forbid, is gonna be.
This is how the season’s gonna end and it just gives you something to write for. I like that. I’m very, very organized with the storytelling.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Thanks Jeff!
JEFF ASTROF: Thank you!
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– Shining Vale on STARZ was created by Jeff Astrof and Sharon Horgan.
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