As we approach the end of the first season for SYFY’s Astrid & Lilly Save the World (where, according to the stars, #NoOneIsSafe) I sat down with the two stars, Jana Morrison and Samantha Aucoin to discuss how we got here and why Astrid & Lilly Save the World is such a special show.
From the brilliant minds of Noelle Stehman and Betsy Van Stone, Astrid & Lilly Save the World follows outcast BFFs Astrid and Lilly who “accidentally crack open a portal to a terrifyingly quirky monster dimension”. The series continues to be compared with iconic teen-monster hunter classic Buffy, The Vampire Slayer – even the official show twitter labels it “Buffy, minus the male gaze”.
In my chat with the Canadian stars, Morrison and Aucoin reflect on landing these roles and what really drew them this epic adventure.
Jana Morrison (Astrid): I think for me, there are not very many roles that [I can] identify with. As an actor you are going out for roles your agent thinks that you could be. But there are so many different parts of who I am, and [the role of Astrid] was just like,
- Smart girl
- She has a best friend
- There’s traumas in her life.
And I was just like, this role was made for me! Like, who came into my house and spied on me and made this for me? But that was a big reason why I really wanted to do this show. And I feel like the representation of it all. Just really. I was like, ‘Yes! Have me!’
Samantha Aucoin (Lilly): Yeah, I feel the same way, honestly. And when I got to read the first couple scenes, initially for the self tape, I was so drawn to these two best friends and that their relationship was not like a toxic, typical, two girls relationship that you’ll often see in films and TV. Our characters uplift each other, and it was so refreshing to read that. They weren’t fighting over a guy, or you know, whatever stereotypes, it was just like, ‘wow, this show is, at its core, about this friendship, this beautiful friendship’. And yes, of course, being plus size, that representation, which I’m so happy about, but I was hooked after [the friendship]. I was completely hooked on the show.
Although quite “campy” and silly at time – especially with the old school use of practical effects – Astrid & Lilly Save the World finds a way to balance the playful and quirky with some more serious topics, including bullying and insecurities, exploring ones sexuality, and childhood trauma. Morrison agrees, “It’s like, but that’s life. There are serious issues. And they’re just normal issues.”
These Monsters haunt the girls both metaphorically and literally, as a tool to explore different aspects of growing up. Morrison and Aucoin shared a couple who have stood out:
JM: [The Memoragatu in Episode Five] really helped my character deal with something, her trauma, that she doesn’t like to talk about. She doesn’t talk about it. She doesn’t talk about it with her best friend, she doesn’t talk about it with anyone. And that’s horrible. To not be able to talk about the most traumatic thing in your life is the worst. And I think that [the Memoragatu] helped Astrid just talk about it. And know that it was not her fault – the death in her family, her father, was not her fault. And although she did not want to deal with that, the monster really helped with some healing. A lot of this show has been healing for a lot of people, because we’re talking about different topics that a lot of shows don’t talk about. Different topics, real topics.
SA: For me, my favorite monster that deals with some of our internal struggles, and allowed my character to face that, I actually want to throw it back to our first monster, TearJerker, because he feeds off of our insecurities, and our fears. And Lilly is, when we see her in the beginning of the season, so incredibly insecure in her skin, and to hear [TearJerker] shouting her insecurities in her face was insane to film for me, because a lot of Lilly’s insecurities have been my own. I think that was very, it was healing. Like Jana, you were saying, there were a lot of moments that were very healing for us. And for our characters. It was really wild to kind of experience that again, and kind of experience that ‘Oh, yeah. I remember when I had those insecurities.’ I really think that this monster, TearJerker, made a huge difference for Lilly, because she was able to defeat him, to help her best friend. And that was the start of her kind of coming into her own and starting to be more confident. I definitely think, our number one monster kicked it off.
While the TearJerker kicked off the monster-hunting for our heroes, a boy named Sparrow (Spencer Macpherson) won the heart of Astrid and kicked off their relationship. That was until The Guardian got in the way…
JM: I feel like their relationship a little bit complicated, because I think he’s getting really into her. And he just wants to like, all of her. He wants to know what she’s thinking and what’s going on in her life. And Astrid’s just not ready to reveal that she was a monster hunter, but it just happened because that monster made it happen, unfortunately. At this point, I don’t think Astrid and Sparrow are secure [as of the end of] episode nine. I hope they will be back to being together again in Episode 10, because I love that he’s really into her, because she’s a confident girl. And she’s interesting. And I think being yourself is really interesting to other people, and not being like something else, but just being your full self. And I think that’s what makes him really into her. So I hope they’re going to be secure in Episode 10. But we will see, Astrid’s proven herself to be pretty badass in saving people. So we will see.
The season one finale of Astrid and Lilly Save the World airs Wednesday, March 30th on SYFY.
*Portions of this interview were edited and condensed for lengthy and clarity*
— Yael Tygiel