Before Roswell New Mexico developer and showrunner Carina Adly MacKenzie entered the TV writing side of things with The Originals, she was doing interviews much like the one you are about to read. She was probably best known for her Vampire Diaries coverage at the now mostly defunct Zap2It website; with time, she would end up working directly with the TVD-verse’s Julie Plec in that world, and now they have worked together on her current series as well.
As such, Carina has a very interesting perspective and take on what makes genre television work, which is probably a reason why Roswell New Mexico has resonated with CW audiences the way that it has so far. A new episode titled “Smells Like Teen Spirit” airs tonight (February 26) and explores the histories of several characters — you can see photos from that episode here — and so today seemed like a great time to share our deep dive into what makes the new Roswell tick.
Since this interview is a bit long it is split into multiple pages. Be sure to keep going through!
KSITETV’s CRAIG BYRNE: You got your start on the journalist side of things. Is there anything you learned from being a journalist that shaped the kind of showrunner that you would be?
CARINA ADLY MACKENZIE: What I did when I was a journalist was that I really came at it from a fan perspective. I had knowledge of what the Internet fandom looks like, and what they click on, and what they want to talk about, that I sort of was able to — I felt like I was able to ask the kind of questions that fans wanted to know. And so with the show, I like to plant those questions.
I’m really excited because right now people are like “Wait a minute? Max has a tattoo on his back that kind of looks like the symbol in the title card,” and I’m like “uh-huh. Yeah.” And that’s the kind of thing that as a journalist, I used to really zero in on that stuff. I used to torture the showrunners of Supernatural and be like “so, the necklace that Dean lost in Season 4… when are you gonna bring back the necklace?” And that’s the kind of showrunner that I am, too. The details matter to me. I plant things early that will mean something later.
I’ve also noticed some Easter eggs like the Vampire Diaries book on the shelf.
That was kind of on purpose and kind of like — we saw it, and we were like “oh, let’s put the book right next to the Vampire Diaries book.”
I know where I came from. I don’t take myself or the show too seriously. I love it, and I think that we touch on serious things, but there’s nothing wrong with throwing the fans a little bone in a scene with Michael Trevino in it, and having a Vampire Diaries novel on the shelf. I really want to make a show that people want to watch twice, because that’s what I used to do. I’d watch The O.C. with my friends in college, and then I’d go to my room to watch it again alone. I want to watch things twice. I want people to want to watch twice and pick up on little things. I think that when you reach the end of this season, if you start it all over again on Netflix the next day, you’re going to see a million things that you totally missed the first time, and I really want that.
Is it purposeful that you end episodes on such major beats so that people are talking about the show the next week, the way a show like The Vampire Diaries had done ten years ago?
Yeah. I mean, I like a good cliffhanger ending. I think that it’s a murder mystery show; that’s the way that we built it and the scaffolding that we built it on, and the stakes are very high. There are some episodes that end softer and some that end harder, for sure. As we’re gearing up toward some big reveals, we’re definitely ending on some twisty, turny stuff.
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