'Ireland has always had this stereotypical relationship with alcoholism' | The star and the creator of The Dry talk about the return of the comedy-drama

'Ireland has always had this stereotypical relationship with alcoholism'

The star and the creator of The Dry talk about the return of the comedy-drama

Series two of the Irish comedy-drama The Dry comes to ITVX this week. Here star Roisin Gallagher, who plays recovering alcoholic Shiv, talks about the ‘chaotic roller-coaster’ of her character’s life, the joy of filming in Dublin and what viewers can expect from the series. And, below, creator Nancy Harris talks about the show, too.       

How did season 1 end?

Season 1 ended with Shiv falling quite spectacularly off the wagon when it came to booze. We saw her try to clamber back onto it and she was joined, much to her surprise, by her mum Bernie to go on that journey.

Where do we find Shiv at the start of season 2?

She is still at home, sober and celibate. She's trying her very best to be good, and she's trying really, really hard not to mess things up.

What is Shiv’s worst flaw, and do you have sympathy for her?

I do have sympathy as she can be a little sanctimonious at times, depending on what day it is. I think the most important thing is that I understand why and where that comes from for Shiv.

When it feels like she's got the moral high ground because she's been there and got the T-shirt, that’s when things start going wrong. She's really good at being sober and great at staying within the guidelines, however, struggles when things go awry.

What are you most excited for this season?

In terms of filming, I was excited that we didn’t need to follow Covid protocols, it was so lovely seeing everyone's gorgeous faces.

What was your reaction to reading the scripts for season 2?

It was a long, anticipated wait for the scripts. They sort of came in little bits, which was nice because I got a chance to really sit with each episode. I devoured it.

I think what Nancy [Harris, the show’s creator] has done with the series is incredible, all the characters are elevated to a whole new level of messiness and funniness. I started crying reading episode 4, I just had such an emotional reaction to what was going on this series.

How have things gotten more complicated for the Sheridans?

You would think with Shiv being sober, things would be simpler, calmer and less chaotic within their household, but it’s totally the opposite. Each family member has their own issues, dealing with their own turmoil. I think they are each at a point of change in their lives, and they're trying to navigate that with their very different personalities under the same roof.

The Sheridan house is like another character in the family. It holds all the secrets, similar to the saying ‘if these four walls could talk’. It's really poignant in their story because they've grown up in this house and in this series, the house is the thing that breaks them apart and also brings them back together, metaphorically and emotionally.

Describe Shiv’s journey across season 2.

It is another roller-coaster. It's chaotic and high-octane joy. In some moments we see her grow and really mature in ways which are beautiful, and we also see her in some devastating moments where there's betrayal and she has to fight her demons really hard.

She’s still fighting addiction, which is always there and very present throughout. Most importantly, there's a new man on the scene, so it’s interesting to see the dynamic between Shiv and him. She has a few moments where you can’t help but think ‘Oh no, don’t do that Shiv!’

Alongside Shiv, Bernie is also going on her own sober journey this series.  Has this brought them closer or pushed them further apart?

Shiv and Bernie's relationship continues to be quite complex and difficult, and I am sure many can relate to the complexities of a mother-daughter relationship.

It's brilliant to see them try to connect through their sober journey together. It means Shiv is not alone and she really appreciates and finds inspiration from her mum. I think she looks at Bernie and thinks at first, it’s really easy for her. Or at least much less difficult than it is for Shiv.

Taking part in recovery with Bernie makes her feel less isolated, but it’s not all plain sailing and we see how difficult it is to be honest when you're suffering from addiction to yourself and to the people that's closest to you.

Tell us about what it has been like filming in and around Dublin…

I love filming in Dublin. We were lucky to shoot in the Hugh Lane Gallery for the first time, which was a beautiful space. Sometimes you shoot at a location, and it helps with the scene. As a performer, you can understand the world of your character much better. So being there amongst the amazing art helped me connect with Shiv’s creative, artistic side.

What can an audience expect from season 2 of The Dry?

I think they can expect to have a really good laugh and maybe a cry too.

How has it been working with the crew?

It's brilliant to have a returning crew as a lot of the same people came back to work on this series. Ireland's quite a small place with a tight-knit filming community, so people generally tend to know each other. They've worked with each other before and there's a shorthand in the language that makes it work.

The experience was smooth and enjoyable for everybody and they're all great craic!

Interview with series creator Nancy Harris

Where do we find the story at the start of season 2?

Everything seems to be going well, the family are in a pretty good place. But things have gotten more complicated for the characters, primarily because [mother and daughter] Bernie and Shiv are both in recovery. We ended the last series with Bernie attending an AA meeting, but we don't know where that's going to go.

This season, she has fully embraced her sobriety. While Shiv is really thrilled that her mum isn’t drinking and is looking at herself, it’s also posing challenges. Her getting healthy is maybe giving Shiv a little less of a role in Bernie’s life, so we wanted to look into what it was like to have two people in the same family trying to get sober and do they have the same attitude, or does it create competition?

How important is it to you to make a comedy-drama like The Dry that’s set and shot in Ireland?

It’s really important to me. I think it's very Irish in its humour and hopefully in its depiction of families. The Sheridans are not always likeable, but they are truthful and lovable and for that reason we understand them, and I think there’s something very Irish about that.

I also felt that given that Ireland has always had this stereotypical relationship with alcoholism, it was a timely thing to have a show set in Ireland that actually dealt with the subject of addiction in a really complex and truthful way.

Can you talk us through Shiv’s journey in season 2.

It’s quite complex because she's managed to stay sober for seven months, her mum is now in recovery, and she has complicated feelings about that.

She is trying hard to be good and do everything right this time, but maybe trying a little bit too hard when she finds the perfect relationship. Has she come far enough as a sober person to really be able to manage a relationship and her family?

The big question of season 2 for Shiv is, is her family actually part of the problem? Is it actually not just alcohol but the destructive, dysfunctional dynamic of her family that is a danger to Shiv’s sobriety as much as alcohol?

Can you talk about some of the main themes within the series?

I obviously wanted to move the story on. The show was always more than just addiction and recovery. It was always about a family and a comedy-drama that tried to deal truthfully with serious subjects, but also humorously.

I really wanted to look at deeper things like the dysfunctional family dynamics and also the different types of addiction. Shiv is one kind of alcoholic and Bernie is kind of another and they operate differently.

I also wanted to ask tough questions such as what happens when you've been sober for 10 years and you suddenly have a full-on crisis, or being sober becomes boring?

What can an audience expect from season 2 of The Dry?

I think it has a slightly more unusual storyline to season 1. It's more complex and I think you see all the characters in a slightly different light. That felt important to me to develop them which is part of the joy of a second season.

• The Dry series 2 comes to ITVX on Thursday

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Published: 10 Mar 2024

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