In the week six episode we see Jesse sad and alienated, screaming to Paul that "Nobody gets it." What does nobody get?
I don't know that we want to answer that. I'd rather let the audience fill it in. One thing I'll say is that Jesse's a teenager, and he feels that nobody knows what it's like to be him in a way that teenagers usually feel.
One of the things that Dr. Weston does is offer up easy-seeming solutions to a deeply troubled person. Jesse's problems are so complicated that it's impossible for anybody to "get" him. No one else knows what it's been like to go through the things that he's gone through.
In that moment, Paul is half talking to Jesse and half talking to his son. On some level, Jesse understands that the answer isn't really intended for him.
What is Jesse hoping to get out of his sessions with Paul?
First of all, Jesse is thrown into this situation against his own will. He has to go to therapy or he'll get thrown out of school. Ultimately though, he doesn't have a real authority or parental figure in his life that really stands up for him and truly loves him. Paul is the first person in his life that actually sits and listens to him speak -- whether or not it's his profession. Every time Jesse pushes him away, Paul is still there, week after week.
Jesse says at the end of the episode that this is the only place he feels safe, where he can be himself. He's reaching a point, perhaps prematurely, that a lot of people reach, when they realize that their parents are flawed; they can't save them, don't understand them, can't protect them. Most people going through this already have a certain level of self-sufficiency in place, so it's easier for them. Jesse is stuck. His adoptive parents don't understand him and his birth parents don't want him. The only person in his life who is both stable and receptive is Paul.
How is the Jesse that has emerged on screen different than the one that was written on the page?
It's not, really. Dane and I worked very closely together. The only episode that had been written before Dane came on board was the first one. By the time I was writing the second one, I was writing it for Dane's voice.
One of the unique things about this show is that it allows its cast to have time with the writer and the director and actually rehearse the material and have an open conversation about what works and what doesn't. It's a fully collaborative process.
What was cool about working with Dane was that he had the lines memorized and the emotional beats down before rehearsal. That allowed me to see how the episode was going to play beforehand and then go back and do some rewrites.
It would've been terrifying to me if I had to show up without having that dialogue before. It's only fair that if you have the material a week beforehand, then the people working on it should be able to see the performance at that time. That allows the writer to say, "What about this?" And I can say, "Well what about this or this?" And that's how you get the episode.
There was one moment in week six's episode when Jesse speaks to another one of Paul's patients, a girl with an eating disorder. Originally, I had written that moment to be very sarcastic. But when Jesse came in, he played it very earnestly, as if this were another person Jesse was trying to make a connection with. And it played much better that way. It gives us a sense of his vulnerability, a sense of how far he's come, and since we know he's not attracted to this girl, it was just a nice thing to do.
He does put up a front with her at first, but when he recognizes her as another person his age who is feeling deep sorrow, he catches himself and has a real genuine moment with her.
At that point in filming, Dane had spent so much time in the character he knew Jesse just as well as I did, if not better.
What was the process of putting together Jesse's character? When we spoke to Anya earlier she mentioned that the later episodes were being written as the earlier ones were filming.