Death? Check. Secrets? Check. Friendships? Check. Lies? Double check. No, we’re not talking about Pretty Little Liars — we’re talking about ABC Family’s new suspenseful teen drama,.Twisted.
Created by Adam Milch (Greek), Twisted follows 16-year-old Danny Desai (a very charming Avan Jogia) as he re-adjusts to life back in high school after spending five years in juvie. But Danny isn’t your average bad boy with a penchant for crime; when he was 11, he murdered his aunt. Now, five years later, he’s back in school, but when you're labeled as a “socio” by the student body, it’s not exactly easy to make friends.
Enter Jo (Madelaine Hasson) and Lacey (Kylie Bunbury), Danny’s childhood best friends who drifted apart in the aftermath of the murder. Lacey is now the Queen Bee, while Jo is the social outcast. Will Danny’s reappearance help rekindle the friendship they once had? Will Danny convince his former friends that he’s not the socio everyone thinks he is?
Wetpaint Entertainment chatted with showrunner Adam Milch about his new series, Danny’s motivations, and whether or not this complicated trio could ever become a complicated love triangle.
Wetpaint Entertainment: One of the most intriguing aspects of the series is that we don’t know whether we can trust Danny. Is that something that becomes clear as the show goes on?
The idea of who Danny is, the question of his character, is something that’s really essential to the show, and we want to keep that going. We really want to explore the idea there’s a killer living among the people of this town. But at the same time, you want to sympathize with him and love him. He’s also a dark character. The idea of living with someone you know has killed someone before, from his mother’s point of view, from his friend’s point of view, from the people in the town’s point of view, has always been central to the show.
Would you say that he’s a Norman Bates [Psycho] or Patrick Bateman [American Psycho]?
I don’t want to say exactly who he is. When you think Patrick Bateman, that takes you to some pretty dark places. I’ve only thought of him as a real, teenage boy. He is, perhaps, capable of things that most of us are not capable of, but that’s the question of the show. What exactly is he capable of? Clearly, he’s not your normal teenage boy, but at the same time, you want to sympathize and empathize with him. When we were working on the pilot, it was very important to find those moments of humanizing Danny, and there’s a scene in a psychology class that’s key because you don’t really know if what he’s saying is real or not. He’s a real person going through something that we can all relate to, which is being an outcast. Obviously, there’s a darker element to it because of what he did in his past.
One of the things that struck me the most in the pilot is how unaffected Danny seems.
Right. And then there are moments like in that psychology class where he puts on this front because it’s not easy to have the entire class stare at you. But it’s hard to tell if that’s real or not. We actually don’t know what happened with his aunt or what lead him to do that. What happened there is still a mystery. The idea is that you never quite know what to expect from him, and I think that’s what makes this show different from a lot of these teens shows. It has this lead character who is a huge question mark.
Avan Jogia does such a brilliant job as Danny. It’s the perfect amount of snark and sincerity and creepiness.
Casting was crucial for this series. Avan is absolutely amazing. We saw at least 100 actors — pretty much every young actor of that age range in Los Angeles — and we definitely put him through the ringer. We auditioned him multiple times, we tested him with the network twice, and he kept getting better. It became increasingly clear to everyone that he was Danny. You need charisma to sell that character. If the character isn’t charismatic, you don’t understand why everyone is so interested in him. Why Jo and Lacey are drawn to him. Why he’s fascinating to the audience. You either have it or you don’t, and Avan has charisma.
He’s also extremely sarcastic, which I guess you need to be if everyone thinks you’re a sociopath.
Yeah, for sure. I am endeared to people who can use humor in difficult situations, and he’s in an incredibly difficult situation. He handles himself well, and I think that makes him more likeable and more relatable.
Is this a town in which everyone has a secret? Danny is the one with the target on his back, but other characters, like his mom for example, seem to be hiding things as well.
One of my original conceptions for the show is that Danny is the one being targeted as a sociopath, but the question is, who really is the sociopath? The show is called Twisted, which at this point could refer to anyone. It’s not just about Danny. He’s the object of people’s scorn, and he’s ostracized, but is he the actual sociopath? Or is it someone else? We’re going to explore that question. Everyone that you meet in the pilot is a suspect in some way.
Twisted seems to be premiering at the right time. There’s a huge trend in TV right now within the thriller genre. Bates Motel on A&E has been doing extremely well, and then you have The Following on FOX and American Horror Story on FX.
I guess American Horror Story had just come out when I thought of this, but I’ve always been more connected to the emotional aspect of the show, the idea of someone coming back and how these two girls are affected — how it affects their relationships with each other and with him. How do childhood relationships transition into adolescence and what does that mean for all three of those characters? I don’t think I ever set out to make a teen thriller. I think that came out of the original concept. It definitely became more of a thriller as I worked on the pilot. I think what makes this show different from those other shows is that this is probably more emotionally grounded, and that’s what we’re going for. It’s more like a My So-Called Life or Dawson’s Creek teen show, mixed with a thriller. And I think the other thing we’re really excited about is the humor, which you get a lot of in the pilot. It lightens it up.
There’s a bit of Glee bashing in the pilot!
Yeah, I hope we don’t piss off Ryan Murphy. Sorry, Ryan! It’s meant affectionately. I worked on Greek, and we did a lot of pop culture references. That’s always fun. I love that kind of stuff.
And, like you said, these are teenagers.
I wanted it to feel real. I didn’t want it to be too heightened. It’s a heightened concept in an emotionally grounded world with characters who feel like people you could know. It helps to have the humor.
There’s a beautiful line in the pilot where Jo tells Danny that what he did took away her childhood, and we as viewers realized that Danny wasn’t the only one affected by this. It literally changed everything for Jo and Lacey too.
Their friendship, the one between Jo and Lacey, is the heart of the show for me. What exactly went wrong for these two? Obviously, there are suggestions as to what went wrong, but we’re going to explore exactly what happened. It’s a key element to the show, as well as how Danny complicates that relationship. With those three, it’s a very complicated trio dynamic.
Is “complicated trio dynamic” another word for love triangle?
Well, they are three hormonal teenagers, and Avan Jogia is pretty attractive, but I don’t want it to become just another love triangle. I’m almost as interested in Lacey and Jo’s relationship and their friendship as I in each of their relationships to Danny. But I do think it’s going to get complicated for those three. But that friendship between Lacey and Jo is as important to the triangle as the cute boy.
In the new mystery series Twisted, teen Danny (Avan Jogia) returns home after five years in juvie. The outcast tries to reunite with his best friends (Maddie Hasson and Kylie Bunbury) and smooth things over with his mom (Denise Richards). But when a classmate is found dead, Danny becomes the prime suspect. Creator and executive producer Adam Milch explains why we should get looped in to Twisted.
[Another showrunner interview]TV Guide Magazine: I have time to watch one more show. Why should it be yours? Adam Milch: Because it's a dark, exciting, twisty-turny mystery that's also an emotional, relatable character-driven teen drama. And it's funny.
TV Guide Magazine: Who should be watching? Milch: Anyone who likes being addicted to a television show. Anyone who's had a friend from long ago come back into his or her life and complicate it. And my mother, because she has to.
TV Guide Magazine: What happens if we don't watch your show? Milch: The ratings tank and hundreds of people lose their jobs. Do you want to be responsible for that?</b> (DO YOU ONTD?!)
TV Guide Magazine: Give us the formula for Twisted. Milch: The relatable teen angst of My So-Called Life mixed with the compelling small-town love triangle of Dawson's Creek cross-pollinated with the thrills and laughs of Scream and the dark edge of Heathers. Plus, it's a classic murder mystery, so I guess Agatha Christie?
TV Guide Magazine: What's the best thing anyone has said or written about your show? Milch: Twitter and Facebook seem very excited.
TV Guide Magazine: What's the worst thing? Milch: Silence is the only bad thing. I'm excited for people to have opinions about it, good or bad.
TV Guide Magazine: Who was right? Milch: No one and everyone. There is no right or wrong. I'm just thrilled to have created something that is worthy of people watching it and having good and bad opinions. It's a lifelong dream. With that said, people who like it are right.
TV Guide Magazine: Finish this sentence: If you like _______, you'll love our show. Milch: If you like an exciting serialized mystery teen drama that makes you have to watch the next episode immediately after finishing the previous one, you'll love our show.
TV Guide Magazine: Come up with a premise for the spin-off. Milch: Juvie: The Prequel to Twisted explores Danny's time in juvenile detention from ages 11—16. It's Oz meets Dead Poets Society meets Girl, Interrupted, but with boys.
TV Guide Magazine: What credit of yours would you prefer we forget? Milch: According to IMDb, I was apparently an assistant on Margot at the Wedding, but that's not technically true, so forget that one, I guess.
TV Guide Magazine: Tell me something about your amazing cast. Milch: They aren't just individually talented and yes, amazing, but they as a group have that elusive quality that makes any TV show work: chemistry.
TV Guide Magazine: With what show would you like to do a crossover episode? Milch: Game of Thrones, because I'd like to see how the Twisted characters survive in that brutal world. I think they'd do well. They're very resourceful.
TV Guide Magazine: How will Twisted change the face of TV as we know it? Milch: I can't think of another show on TV right now with such an ambiguous lead character. He'll keep you guessing every week, wondering whether he's a hero or a villain, what he's thinking, what he's capable of, who he is. And he's a teenager. And he's funny. And he's sexy and smart. I definitely think if people watch the show, this character has the potential to truly fascinate.
TV Guide Magazine: If you weren't producing this show, on what series would you most like to be an executive producer? Milch: Parenthood, because it makes me cry every episode, and I want to know how they do that.
TV Guide Magazine: Pick a show and start a fake feud. Milch: Parenthood, because it makes me cry every episode, and I'm sick of it. Stop manipulating my emotions, Parenthood!
Canadian actor Avan Jogia, stars in the new teen drama series Twisted, as Danny Desai, a teen just out of juvenile detention for killing his aunt five years before. The show, airing in Canada on ABC Spark (9 p.m. Tuesdays), is an ongoing mystery that unfolds in high-school halls.
Did Danny commit murder? Is he responsible for subsequent crimes?
The show is the second series for 21-year-old Jogia, a Vancouver native. Previously, he spent four seasons as part of the ensemble on the Nickelodeon musical-comedy series Victorious.
The young performer got his acting start seven years ago in TV movies. He quit high school at 16 to pursue acting full-time in Los Angeles.
Here, Jogia talks about what inspires him professionally and in his public service work.
[Interview]Q: You’re walking a fine line in the new series as convicted killer Danny Desai. You manage to give him charm and a sense of humour, as well as a dark side. Talk a bit about creating this character.
A: I find out something different about Danny every week, so I definitely have to play him to give the editors lots of room in the editing, but I think having a background in comedy helps you fine-tune just the amount of comic relief required for a character that uses cavalier charm as a defence mechanism, but is also quite understandably in a dark place.
Q: Denise Richards plays your mom, and is definitely not the typical suburban type. What’s it like playing son to a former Bond girl? What do you two talk about between takes?
A: We talk about everything, really. She’s a great person — very kind, gracious, and easy to talk to.
Q: You dropped out of high school at age 16 to pursue an acting career, but I’m guessing the acting bug hit earlier than that. When and how did the realization hit that this was what you were supposed to do?
A: I really don’t remember thinking I wanted to do something other than acting, so I was probably pretty young. My parents have friends in improvisational theatre and the film industry in Vancouver. Some of them had booked leads on TV shows in the ’90s, so we would be watching TV and see people we knew. I guess, just like having a doctor or politician in your family, it’s not something that seems weird or unattainable (especially to a young mind) if someone you know has that job.
Q: Is there anyone’s career you looked to for inspiration as you were starting out, or even now, as you make your choices?
A: Up until now, I looked at it more like being in college: a lot of learning and taking the opportunities that have come my way. I’m definitely inspired by way too many actors to list them all, but Edward Norton and Ryan Gosling are some.
I guess the commonality is their ability to evoke so much feeling even during the times that they’re giving a quiet performance.
Q: You co-founded the Straight But Not Narrow (SBNN) campaign, to positively influence the views of straight males towards LGBT teens. How did that came about, and what’s involved in the campaign?
A: It was co-founded with myself, Heather Wilk and Andre Pochon of Cause Creative. I’m incredibly thankful for my friend actor Josh Hutcherson’s support as well.
Canada had just passed its marriage equality law. I had moved to the U.S. and being in a seemingly liberal city like Los Angeles, it was a big deal. Prop 8 was being put to vote and I found it strange that it was such a dividing topic.
It was in 2009 that so many young LGBT people were feeling trapped and that there was no other solution other than suicide. For me, one of the hardest hitting was the story of an 11-year-old boy, Carl Joseph Walker, who endured bullying at school for either being gay or perceived to be gay. It was absolutely heartbreaking.
With timing being as it was, I was hired on a Nickelodeon show in which our audience is anywhere between eight and 18. The majority of the questions I was asked by the press were “what’s my favourite ice cream flavour?” and “what to look for in a girl?” It bothered me that important issues that were affecting this generation were not being addressed by anyone even close to representing them in age, so the idea came about that there must be more people who feel like I do.
People should not be left to feel as though they have no support, and just because you’re not LGBT doesn’t mean you’re silent about how you think people should be treated. The name Straight But Not Narrow came from a handwritten poster I saw at The Vancouver Pride Parade my family and I attended when I was a kid. I think it served to say exactly what we were trying to achieve.
I asked people I knew who felt the same to speak to others through PSAs that bullying behaviour and language is not something that makes you a man, keeping a large component of it geared toward the message of having a place for friends and family members who are not LGBT, but have someone they love or care about who are and want to support. We’re hoping that in the future we can also use our charity to channel funds to places like homeless centres for LGBT teens.
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For those of you who missed the viewing post last week, there will be one tonight. For those of you who haven't seen the show yet, you can watch HERE, HERE, Hulu or if you have cable, it's OnDemand. In addition to the online options to catch up, ABCFamily is having a marathon of Twisted starting at 3pm today. So if you don't have shit to do and don't mind useless commercials you can watch it on television. (ty sking20854) So please watch tonight at 9PM EST on ABCFamily, especially ONTDers with Nielsen boxes. You have time to get caught up for tonight! Be there or be square.