Central Park creator Josh Gad on Molly’s journey into puberty

Though Season 2 of Apple TV+’s Central Park packs a slew of changes for the lovable Tillermans, one family member has it tougher than most. Daughter Molly — now voiced by Emmy Raver-Lampman to accurately portray the mixed race character — not only navigates puberty, but she also goes shopping for her first bra and has her first glimpse of romance.

Josh Gad, who voices Birdie and co-created the series along with Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith, says the addition of Raver-Lampman really allowed the writers to delve into the character and use their experience to help the character grow . He says, “Season two was really Molly’s season.”

Here Gad and Raver-Lampman reflect on Molly’s development this season and how the series’ most catchy catchy tune, from Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, came together.

One of the highlights of this season was the development of Molly and her puberty. What have been the conversations you’ve had about your path this season?

Josh Gad: We were blessed — but blessed is a term too late — for Emmy Raver-Lampman’s addition and contribution to the show, because it completely changed the dynamic of Molly in a way that we felt like we were growing this character exponentially could leave. Part of that discussion, around the time Emmy agreed to grace us with her brilliance, was that we didn’t want to be afraid to let this young girl grow.

There are some amazing voices in our writing room, and in particular some amazing female voices that we wanted to speak to about their own experiences of growing up and encountering the different things that come with puberty. It could be getting your first bra, getting your period, and a lot of those things that are generally off-limits at times. In an animated musical, you have to do a confidence exercise and jump in.

There’s just something about Emmy that inspired so many of the stories we wanted to tell. There was this element that Emmy could pull you in comedically so nothing felt weird or awkward—when you watch it with a family, it just felt authentic. Whether it was the comedy, the pathos, or most importantly, the incredible music brought to life by this person and our amazing writing team.

The strongest episode of the season is Molly going through her own creative process singing the song “Trying Too Hard” which is about fear and all the things we feel as we go through the growing pains of figuring out how and where we belong To be honest, I had nothing to do with it.

Emmy Raver-Lampman: Being part of the show and working with Josh is a highlight of my career. I’m a fan of his and wanted to be a part of the animated space. Puberty is weird, it was weird for everyone, so if someone tells you it wasn’t, they’re lying. The show found such a brilliant way of looking after this time, no pun intended, with such grace. Everyone around her was celebrating those moments, even though it was so scary and so embarrassing for them.

The fact that she’s going bra shopping with her dad for the first time is – it doesn’t seem like it’s normal, it’s a girl thing, but let’s break those norms. Power the girl dads. It doesn’t have to be that mother-daughter experience. Families look different now, and I think so [the show is] Normalizing a lot of those moments for young people and opening up those conversations about them and celebrating your period as opposed to that thing about you going to the bathroom and hiding from everyone and never talking about it and never knowing what’s going on in your body. The show did such a great job using Molly as that coming of age voice.

Language work is often isolating, especially during the pandemic when you’re just in that cubicle or closet at home. How was this experience for you?

Gad: When you have an exceptionally talented cast, it doesn’t matter if they’re in a booth together or at home. I think it’s also a testament to our brilliant sound engineers who were able to record actors. Emmy was in Australia, doing much of her dialogue and singing under a pillow in a hotel. It’s a testament to Adam our sound engineer and Patrick making music and everyone else. It’s a testament to our brilliant showrunners that they managed to make everyone feel comfortable and confident despite the unprecedented nature of all the shifts and changes. They walked me through setting up my little makeshift sound booth at home. It was scary, but at the end of the day it was a lot easier than it ever should have been.

One of my favorite musical highlights is You Are the Music, written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez. How did it all come together?

Gad: I have been blessed to work with Bobby and Kristen on three projects, The Book of Mormon with Bobby, Frozen and Frozen 2 with Bobby and Kristen and they are like family now. Kristen’s sister Kate is one of the most incredibly gifted musicians [and] is the heart of our show. But Bobby and Kristen are the hardest working composers I’ve ever met. I expected them to say, “We don’t have time,” but again, a testament to our cast and what the show is, they immediately jumped on board.

What’s it like being in dialogue as Birdie and Molly one minute and breaking into a song the next?

Gad: You’re asking the wrong people because we come from the theater [laughs]. We’re used to spontaneously bursting into music.

I had to record a song yesterday. And I wanted to do it at first because I love recording a song with these guys. This is the song that ends Season 3 and it’s just so high. It’s so high outside the stratosphere for my voice. When I heard it I wasn’t happy with my singing and asked if I could do it again. The brilliance of this team and this collaborative spirit is that they want you to win – they never settle for less – so they will come back and we will keep being in the dressing room until it feels like that’s who it is best version of what that could have been.

https://variety.com/2022/artisans/news/central-park-josh-gad-molly-emmy-raver-lampman-1235293734/ Central Park creator Josh Gad on Molly’s journey into puberty

Charles Jones

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