Friendship among a group of women is at the core of the often fantastical Hulu comedy Dollface. But the show’s second season also features a thoughtful queer love story for Shay Mitchell’s Stella, who was conceived of as queer from the start.
In season 2, which kicked off last week, fun party girl Stella, who’s grappling with whether or not she wants the career in finance that she seemed destined for, makes her way into a bar run by out actor Lilly Singh’s Liv. The chemistry between Stella and Liv is immediately palpable, and without the fanfare of a coming-out or big discussions about identity, the women embark on a beautifully normal relationship that’s treated with as much care as the other relationships in the series that also stars Kat Dennings, Brenda Song, and Esther Povitsky.
Shay Mitchell and Esther Povitsky
“Stella was always a character from when she was conceived even in season one as a queer character,” Dollface creator Jordan Weiss tells The Advocate. “But she just happened to only date a guy in the one episode we had time to even show, you know, there’s only one episode of season 1 you even see her dating someone.”
“I was just excited to have more time to dedicate an entire storyline in season 2,” Weiss adds. “She happens to be dating a woman, and I think we approached it with the same attitude that Stella would approach it as a character, which is that she's just a pretty fluid person.”
The first season began with Dennings’s Jules at a crossroads when her boyfriend of several years dumps her and she realizes her old friends moved on while she prioritized the man in her life over them. The fantastical piece of Dollface involves Beth Grant as the “cat lady,” a human-sized cat who drives a bus and doles out advice to Jules. Eventually, Jules makes her way back to her best friends, Madison (Song), Stella, and Izzy (Povitsky). Once their core friendships were back intact, season 2 gave the writers a chance to explore the individual characters more deeply, Weiss says.
Watch The Advocate’s interview with Mitchell and Povitsky
Brenda Song and Kat Dennings
“[Stella] identifies as bisexual, I would say. And I think that [Mitchell] wanted to explore that as she's done it in other roles,” showrunner Michelle Nader says. “We were interested in that for her character because each one of these characters is going through their own growth in the season in a different way. She really wanted to explore [Stella’s] kind of intimacy issues.”
For her part, Mitchell is known best for playing queer characters. She embodied the benchmark gay character Emily Fields on Pretty Little Liars in 2010, when there were scant depictions of queer people on TV. In the first season of the addictive series You, she played the fluid character Peach Salinger.
“It’s so refreshing with this character that it wasn’t like an announcement. As important as it was, though, for previous characters, and specifically for Emily when she came out, that was an incredible story that needed to be spoken about and told,” Mitchell tells The Advocate. “But with Stella, she is a fluid character. This isn’t something [where] she's coming out to our friends. It’s not something that needs a whole discussion about.”
Watch The Advocate’s interview with Brenda Song and Kat Dennings
“She dates women, she dates men, she dates both at the same time, she dates none at all, and that’s who she is. And I love that,” she adds. “At times, it is important to tell a [certain] story. And then other times it’s important for her to just live her life and do what she does and fall in love with who she falls in love with. And there’s a beauty to that.”
Mitchell also praises working with Singh, whose character Liv is a business owner and a single mom.
“To be able to play Stella and this sort of love interest and have it with Lilly Singh was really nice,” Mitchell says. “Lilly is awesome. She's beautiful inside and out. And we’re both Canadian. I’ve known her for a while, so it was super fun to be able to play with her on camera.”
Watch The Advocate’s interview with Michelle Nader and Jordan Weiss