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the ghost and molly mcgee scratch and molly
Photo: Disney

Television

‘The Ghost and Molly Mcgee’ creators Bill Motz and Bob Ruth tease season 2

Learn how season two of The Ghost and Molly McGee is turning the relationship between its two leads on its head and more.

The Ghost and Molly McGee follows the unlikely friendship of the two titular characters. Following a curse gone awry, the ghost, Scratch, finds himself eternally bonded to the young tween girl Molly. Together they go on many misadventures both in our world and the Ghost Realm.

Later this week, the animated series is set to return for its second season. Ahead of the new season premiere, we spoke with creators and executive producers, Bill Motz and Bob Ruth to learn more about the show and what we can expect from The Ghost and Molly McGee. They had plenty to share including how the Thai influence came to be, the role of the new ghost hunting family across the street, and what kind of new paranormal creatures we will see.

AIPT: One thing I enjoy about The Ghost and Molly McGee is that, it’s like in the line of other Disney shows such as Gravity Falls and DuckTales, it might be geared towards younger audiences, but the writing and jokes are good enough that even parents can find entertaining. Can you describe your approach for the series that gives it a more universal appeal?

Bob Roth: We want to make sure it’s entertaining for everybody. Our way of doing that is making sure it entertains us. We are both pretty much childlike, but we are also adults so we can view it from both perspectives I should say. It’s a from the ground up sort of approach of kids are smart. They don’t have as much experience as everybody else, but that doesn’t mean their stupid. We always want to make sure we’re talking to them in a respectful manor, in a manor that respects their intelligence, right?

If you approach the storytelling that way, that makes that much easier to make it entertaining for the adults too because they’re going to see, oh, they’re not talking down to these kids. They’re actually maybe lifting them up a little bit. Our writers embrace that, our storyboard artists, our directors, our actors. Everybody across the board sort of had that sort of, let’s make a show that entertains everyone. If you build it, they will come. That was our approach to that.

AIPT: Molly, Sharon, Darryl, and Grandma Nin are of Thai descent and it’s interesting how you weave parts of the culture into the series particularly the spiritual aspects. When developing The Ghost and Molly McGee did you already have the ethnicity of the family in mind or was it something that was incorporated later when Ashly (Burch) came onto the project?

Bill Motz: We had made the decision early on that we would base the ethnicity of the character on whoever we cast first as the lead. Our search was initially to find who we thought was Molly. We found Molly with Ashly. I remember we took her to lunch and said, so we know you’re half Thai. We would really like to explore that in the show. Are you comfortable with us doing that?

Because we didn’t want to presume. Maybe for whatever reason, may not want us to. She said yes, oh my god, that would be amazing. She would love to do that. Once she was in place, then the rest of the cast unfolded.

Roth: That meant doing a lot of research. Casting a writers’ room that could speak to her heritage.

Motz: It started with Ashly and we built around. One of the things that was such a gift to us, I feel like in retrospect it makes us look really smart but we were just really lucky, was in Thai culture their relationship with ghosts is very different. Sal Phra Phum, just building a little spirit house for the ghost sort of honors the ghost that might be in your home.

It wasn’t one of fear or antagonism. It was just one of like, okay, this is okay. So when Grandma Nin gives that little speech at the end of the very first episode, it tees up a whole dynamic that you understand, that yeah, okay, ghosts are just a part of life. We celebrate it and go on. That was a gift to have that for the show.

the ghost and molly mcgee DARRYL, MOLLY, DAD, MOM
Photo: Disney

AIPT: Moving onto the upcoming season, what parts of season one did you want to further explore and also what new directions did you want to take The Ghost and Molly McGee in season two?

Roth: Season one was all about cementing the friendship between Molly and Scratch. Season two, we wanted to find new ways to turn that friendship on its head. Now that Scratch is one hundred percent on board to being friends with Molly, what can we do to add some tension to that. Put some friction in an otherwise frictionless relationship.

That meant bringing in the Chens. The Ghost Chaser Chens. The family that moves in across the street that when the McGees first meet them, seems like, oh, these are just the people we’ve been looking for. They’re going to be our best friend family. Uh oh. They’re also ghost hunters and that means our beloved Scratch is now in danger.

That was sort of the pitch for season two. What that does is it allows new twists on the Molly and Scratch relationships. New dynamics to it. Scratch stood up in front of the whole ghost world and said I’m friends with a human and I don’t care if you know it. Is Molly going to do the same with this boy she has a crush on. Is she going to embrace Scratch as hard as he embraced her when all the chips are on the line. There’s some new dynamics to it all, and that’s what we’re excited about.

Motz: And we were excited too. There were some opportunities to go deeper generally with a lot of our characters. But specifically, we always wanted to talk about who is Scratch? What’s his past? What’s his backstory a little bit? We get to touch on that a bit.

AIPT: I guess you touched upon it a little bit too. In the new season, you see Molly continue to grow up. She has her new interest with boys and, based off of the trailer, maybe some body changes that are referenced. What made you go this route and I was curious of the composition in the writers’ room and how that affects telling authentic, and personable stories for girls at this age.

Roth: The story you’re referencing came…Actually, our writer’s assistance pitched the story of a first period in Molly’s friends’ group. What does that do and how does that change the dynamics between Molly, Libby, and Andrea. She brought her personal experiences to the first period kind of story. Madison (Bateman), our story editor, she brought her experiences to it as well. The story just grew out of that. We got total support from Disney from it. They were excited about it.

That’s kind of like the magic of the writers’ room when you put together the right writers’ room, those kinds of stories are just going to bubble up. Those sorts of natural and authentic stories. I’m super proud of our writers’ team, that we put together a room that could bring so many unique stories and always find a way to make them funny. We are constantly telling our writers we can do any story you guys can come up with as long as you can make it funny. They embraced that challenge and succeeded above our wildest dreams.

AIPT: I like how creative the ghosts you incorporate into the story whether it’s just regular people who have passed or certain types like sobgobliins, joy hunters, and wraiths. Are there any new interesting supernatural beings you’re bringing in for this season that you’re excited about?

Motz: Yes. We’re trying to be careful. In the first episode of season two, we introduce a new type of ghost that we haven’t seen.

Roth: Called the frightmares who are terrifying. Just nasty mean ghosts.

the ghost and molly mcgee OLLIE, RUBEN, ESTHER, JUNE
Photo: Disney

AIPT: The show is also associated with its music. It plays a big component of The Ghost and Molly McGee. Do you have any favorite songs from season two?

Roth: This is the hardest thing. Rob Cantor is a genius. He writes all our songs. My favorite one is the one I just heard last. That’s my favorite. But I will say we have a New Year’s Day episode coming up this season. And when he sent the demo in for that, I had to go meet my family out for a camping trip two hours away. I popped it in my car, loaded it up, and said as I get on the freeway, I’ll listen to the new demo and see what I’ll think. It was so good, I put it on repeat and listened to it for the entire two-hour ride into the woods. It’s that good.

Motz: Yeah, that one was a blast. There are so many that are so strong. In our Halloween episode, what might be our longest song…

Roth: Yeah, it is.

Motz: It’s, oh my gosh, it’s so phenomenal. I love that song. There’s one that features Dad that is freaking brilliant and will be in your head all day long. It’s really hard to pick. There’s also a song that Rob did that will guarantee make you hard cry. It is heartbreaking.

Roth: Rob is a chameleon. We keep throwing curveballs at him thinking we can stump him. Every time, he just knocks those curveballs out of the park. There’s nothing that we can come up with that he cannot do.

Motz: He’s such a good partner.  Oh my gosh.

Roth: It’s like Christmas when his demos show up. It’s like, new Rob song. Great. Drop everything.

AIPT: What are you most eager for viewers to see in season two of The Ghost and Molly McGee?

Motz: That’s a very good question. Holy cow. There are a lot of things. There’s one. We teed up a gag in season one early that we have been waiting to pay off. It doesn’t pay off until, I don’t know, mid-season?

Roth: About a quarter of the way of season two we finally pay it off. Okay, now’s the time. People were begging us. People on the crew were like, okay let’s just do it now. We’re like, nope. We got to wait on this gag.

Motz: It’s only great if we just go for the long game on that. I’m excited for that.

Roth: I’m excited about the episode on Molly’s heritage that we were talking about. I’m excited about that one. I’m excited about every episode. If you loved season one, you’re going to super love season two.

The Ghost and Molly McGee will begin its second season April 1 on Disney Channel.

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