This Is Us fans hoping to find spoilers for the upcoming second season of the NBC drama may be waiting a long time. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman says the Season 2 scripts will be top secret, and it sounds as though he plans to do everything he can to keep spoilers from leaking out ahead of the show’s sophomore season in September.
In the interview, Fogelman revealed that people ask him on a daily basis about how the show’s patriarch, Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) died. It has already been revealed that Papa Pearson died sometime in the mid-1990s when his three kids, Kate, Kevin, and Randall (aka the Big Three), were teenagers, but his cause of death has snowballed into one of the biggest mysteries on the show.
“People are making a beeline for me as soon as I get to work to ask about how Jack died,” the This Is Us showrunner told The Times.
Although Fogelman is well aware that viewers want all of the details regarding Jack’s untimely demise, he admits he could never have imagined the fan frenzy that would surround This Is Us. The showrunner never thought a character-driven family drama would warrant the security safeguards usually reserved for plot-heavy shows like Lost and Game of Thrones, but that is where he is at now.
Fogelman, who describes him and his team as just a “bunch of dramedy” writers, now finds himself in the same shoes as Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, who was notorious for keeping his top secret scripts for the AMC period drama carefully under wraps.
“I think next season we’re going to have to put some scripts on lock down,” Fogelman revealed.
“There’s going to be big stuff happening. We did it once this year with the ‘Memphis’ episode — we changed names of characters in the event something got around.”
“Memphis” was the This Is Us episode that featured the death of Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones). The script was kept under a tight lid and fans were stunned by the death of William, even though they knew it was coming.
With Jack’s death, This Is Us fans know that every time they see episodes set in the mid-1990 era when the Big Three are teens, Jack’s life could be in jeopardy.
Of course, while Fogelman didn’t expect such an insane response to This Is Us, Season 2 won’t be entirely new when it comes to keeping storylines under wraps. The very first episode of This Is Us was one huge secret as fans found out in the final minutes of the pilot that all of the main characters they had seen in what seemed as separate vignettes were actually part of the same family—in two different eras via a flashback format. The a-ha moment came as a shock to almost all of the show’s test audiences.
“I was confident we got it right the first time,” Fogelman told Entertainment Weekly shortly after the This Is Us twist played out in the pilot.
“And we tested. I believed in testing, not the dial testing, but I bring people in, friends and regular people to meet them, make them watch it, and then talk to me after. And let’s say that after the fact 100 people saw it and three people were like, ‘Oh, I thought something was up because of that box at the beginning that said 1975-1979,’ then I would have taken that shot out. And that didn’t happen so we never changed it.”
As for This Is Us’ time-jumping theme, Fogelman admitted the political drama The West Wing helped to shape his series.
“I always loved how [Adam] Sorkin played with time in that show,” the This Is Us creator told the Times.
“You would sit and Leon would be up against it, having a problem in the present day, and then they’d flashback to the day he first met Jed Bartlett. That always stuck with me. It’s something I reference a lot in the writer’s room.”
Fogelman compared This Is Us’ nostalgic feel to looking at old family videos and photos after someone dies.
“The only way to describe what we wanted to capture is when you’re feeling sad because you lost somebody and you look at old family videos — there’s nostalgia and melancholy and optimism, yet sadness,” the This Is Us showrunner explained.
“It accompanies watching yourself as a child and watching your parents before they had children, those birthday parties when you were 8 on those old VHS tapes.”
After a blockbuster first season, This Is Us is under immense pressure to avoid a sophomore slump. Not only does the show have some big stories to tell, and keep from getting spoiled, but the NBC drama is the cornerstone of NBC’s revamped “Must See TV” Thursday night lineup this fall.
Take a look at a teaser for This Is Us below.
This Is Us returns to NBC Thursday, September 21 at 9 p.m.
[Featurd Image by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly and PEOPLE ]