Do we need to escape our everyday reality in order to engage with television? Shows like “Game of Thrones” found success by bringing viewers into a completely new world while use of the word “reality” seems just as far-fetched when in relation to what we actually experience. AMC’s surprise hit “Lodge 49” chooses to take the opposite approach, showing much more relatable depictions of normal people just trying to do their best in difficult times. The show returns Aug. 12 for its second season.
At the center of the show is the relationship between Sean “Dud” Dudley, played with infectious slacker charm by Wyatt Russell, and his sister Liz, played by Sonya Cassidy. The Dudley siblings have a tight bond but a very uneven dynamic. After the death of their father and the collapse of the family pool-cleaning and supply business, it is up to Liz to keep whatever is left of the family together after Dud is left emotionally adrift.
That’s not to say Dud is a lost cause. After a series of coincidences, the spiritually stagnant beach bum finds himself walking the halls of the fraternal order known as The Lynx and ultimately joining as a member of their local station, Lodge 49, in their hometown of Long Beach, California. Becoming a brother of this society gives Dud a new sense of purpose but, unfortunately for Liz, leaves his sister fronting the bills for this new higher calling.
The beauty of the show is how it tackles the quiet struggles that everyday Americans deal with in this modern era. While there are no real battle lines drawn between good and evil for the future of the planet, the show understands why crippling financial debt is a more believable fear than fire-breathing dragons.
According to Cassidy, she had fallen in love with how the show’s creator, Jim Gavin, could weave in laughs into his scripts that seemed rooted in real life.
“I had not read anything like that before,” says the British actress. “I not only loved the show and how unique and surprising it was, but I realized I had not read something before, in terms of a television script, that in the space of one scene I could go from really laughing to [being] deeply moved. I think the way that Jim so deftly crafts those characters and those scenes is something very special.”
Cassidy feels like the story that Gavin hopes to tell is a breath of fresh air for viewers.
“It feels like a very human show,” she explains. “Which, in a world of television that I love, there’s a lot of blood, a lot of death, a lot of sex, and a lot of violence. We all enjoy that, but what I like a lot about our show is that it doesn’t feel like hard work, but at the same time it’s utterly engaging and mysterious and magical. That is one of the ways that I would describe the show: It is a lodge for people. They can sit on their sofa and feel like they are a part of this magical, mundane world with us.”
And that, for better or worse, is how most of us live our lives. The good times can be fleeting and the threat of an upending of our basic comforts is always lurking around the corner, given how hard it is just to get by, week to week.
“I don’t know that there are many people now in that middle section of society that doesn’t know what it is to, at some point, be worrying about keeping a roof over their heads, especially if you have children or dependents,” says Cassidy. “That’s a very real everyday worry for many people which I don’t think is covered a lot in television. The more I watch, it either covers very working-class stories or stories about people with lots of money, with problems. There’s a kind of thrill and drama to that, but I don’t connect with that. I have to say, I get a little bored with it.”
Season 2 of “Lodge 49” premieres Monday, Aug. 12, on AMC at 10 p.m.