Back in 2021, Disney premiered the animated series The Ghost and Molly McGee about the titular tween optimist who develops an unlikely friendship with the cantankerous Scratch, the eponymous ghost. The second season premieres this weekend with the duo’s friendship tested like never before.
Ahead of the premiere of the new season, we had the pleasure of interviewing creators and executive producers Bill Motz and Bob Roth. During our discussion, the duo observed the similar themes between their show and Ted Lasso, teased what’s to come in season two and much more!
Taimur Dar: Obviously in animation you work so far in advance. I can’t help but notice that The Ghost and Molly McGee seems to be part of a trend in entertainment promoting positivity and rejecting pessimism. The best example that everyone points to is Ted Lasso, one of my favorite shows. Molly definitely has some shades of Ted Lasso, and if that’s the case then Scratch is the Roy Kent.
Bob Roth: That’s true! We’re incredibly honored to be mentioned in the same breath as Ted Lasso. It’s a great show.
Dar: Has that aspect of promoting positivity resonated with you more now than when you first developed the show?
Bill Motz: What was funny is we originally came up with a version of the show 14-15 years ago. We started development in 2017 so it was before Ted Lasso had come out. It’s interesting that something they were tapping into was something that we were also seemingly tapping into. It felt like the world was needing a little more hope and optimism again. I remember Bob saying, “There’s no cynicism in the show.” Scratch may be surly and grumpy but he’s not a cynic. Molly will never get to be a cynic. Its underlying premise is not one of cynicism but one of hope.
Roth: That’s not to say that there aren’t moments [of cynicism]. But at the end of the day, we want to leave people feeling good having watched the show.
Motz: It was funny when Ted Lasso came out, I had that same [thought], “Hey we’re on the same wish list of things we want to put out into the world.”
Roth: The other part of it is we had no idea when we started that there was going to be a pandemic. We shipped our first episode to the animation studio, Mercury, in Canada two weeks into the pandemic. We thought, “We’re going to be doing this for two weeks and then back in the office working together.” I remember having a thought a year and a half into the pandemic, “Thank God we’re making something that is fun to work on that is optimistic and light and bright.” We want the entire team to feel good throughout the entire process of making it. And we want the audience to feel that way.
Motz: As challenging as it was for our crew working in their homes, it seemed that underling hopefulness energized everyone. These last few years have been kind of rough. The world has gone through a lot. Even people on the show were going through things. I think having a little optimistic and hopeful point of view was a little shot in the arm to get through everything.
Dar: One of my favorite characters in the show is Andrea Davenport. When she’s first introduced, most viewers likely assumed she was the typical “mean girl” archetype. But as the first season progressed, Andrea showcased a lot more depth and humanity than originally expected. Not to harp on the Ted Lasso comparisons, but Andrea is not too dissimilar to Jamie Tartt. Audiences are quick to dislike both characters but eventually you completely sympathize with them. Will we see Andrea’s character growth continue in the new season?
Motz: It absolutely will continue. You’re going to see more to Andrea. You’re going to see more depth to Andrea. Andrea is going to have some curveballs thrown at her that she’s not prepared for. She’s going to go through things and emerge a stronger, better person for it on the other end.
Dar: Jessica Keenan Wynn, star of stage and screen, voiced Andrea’s mother in the first season. As the great-granddaughter of Ed Wynn and granddaughter of Keenan Wynn, it’s no exaggeration to say Disney is in her blood. Mrs. Davenport didn’t get that much screentime in the first season, so I’d love to know if we’ll see more of the character in the new season?
Roth: We do see more of her. Unfortunately we have not found the moment to put the spotlight on her yet. We’ve talked about it a few times in the writers’ room. Should we be fortunate enough to get a season three I’d love to explore that character more.
Motz: What an amazing, talented actor. I was a little starstruck meeting her the first time.
Dar: I’m quite taken with the ghost designs, especially when compared to how they liked when they were alive. We’ve yet to see what Scratch’s life was like before becoming a ghost. Don’t suppose any of his past will be revealed this season?
Roth: We’re going to keep this answer short because we’re not going to get into spoilers. But the answer is yes. You’re going to get little hints of what Scratch was before he was this little blue blob who floats around and eats.
Dar: The big new addition in this season is the Chens, the McGees’ new neighbors. How did you develop this new family?
Motz: We started originally with them just being pure antagonists with these ghost hunters coming into town. We said, “You know what would be interesting? What if this was the conundrum of this family moves across the street from you and you are perfectly suited to the best of friends?” Then the reveal that this family that they enjoy being around are ghost hunters and puts Scratch in danger is a nice twist. The fact that they live literally across the street from them makes it a challenge because the Chens are now a part of their life no matter what happens. The conundrum is how they keep Scratch safe.
Dar: It’s great to see you continuing the Asian representation, first with Molly’s Thai heritage on her mother’s side and now a Chinese family with the Chens. I’m sure authentic representation is a priority through a diverse writers’ room and consultants. How do you approach diverse representation for the show?
Roth: That’s the work of the writers’ room. We intentionally cast a diverse writers’ room so we could do these kinds of things and put a spotlight on an Asian family. Part of it came from the Thai representation with Molly. We had writers who could speak to that. But we also had writers who could speak to being in a Chinese family and the differences there. We carefully put together a multifaceted room so we could do multifaceted stories.
Motz: And we have consultants and of course [actresses] Ashly [Burch] and Sumalee [Montano] themselves are also Thai. So they could bring in their own experiences. We have an episode we’re very proud of that gets into specifically what it means to be of dual heritage.
Dar: Finally, the first season of The Ghost and Molly McGee had some amazing guest stars. My favorite was probably Greta Gerwig playing herself.
Dar: I don’t know if we can expect her to appear again this season, but any other fun guest stars you can tease?
Roth: So many! Paul F. Thompkins comes in as a host of a podcast about ghosts. He’s hysterical. We have Oscar winner Jim Rash coming up as dance instructor.
Motz: We have Vincent Rodriguez comes in as a character we can’t say! Also W. Earl Brown and Tony Hale.
Roth: We have a long list of really great guest stars!
The Ghost and Molly McGee season 2 premieres April 1 on Disney Channel and Disney XD, and will be available to stream the next day on Disney+.
I would like to note that Vincent Rodriguez already stated that he would play a ghost in the show.
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