Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope: ‘It would be clutching at straws to do third series’

Writer Stefanie Preissner on ending the hit comedy-drama and heading for the US

Stefanie Preissner radio show ‘Situationships’ will air on RTÉ Radio 1 on Thursday. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Stefanie Preissner radio show ‘Situationships’ will air on RTÉ Radio 1 on Thursday. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

Stefanie Preissner appears to be coping very well indeed, with two US TV shows in the pipeline, and a new RTÉ Radio 1 series about women’s relationships starting tomorrow. She confirmed this week she is not writing a third series of the popular Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope, which was a big hit on RTÉ.

The first series of the dark comedy-drama, starring Seána Kerslake and Nika McGuigan as two young Irish friends in their 20s from Cork sharing a house in Dublin, was made by Deadpan Pictures and broadcast on RTÉ in 2016. It was praised for its realistic take on the lives and friendship of young women who are poised between success and self-destruction in contemporary Ireland. Irish Times TV critic Peter Crawley called it “one of the freshest, funniest and most alarming shows on television”.

A second series was broadcast this April. Preissner said this week that she doesn’t want to “force it” and is not writing a third series of Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope, and fans reacted with disappointment on Twitter to the news that Aisling and Danielle’s troubled misadventures have ended. She said she had never planned to write a second series, and that ultimately “didn’t have a vision for season three”.

‘Clutching at straws’

She has drawn a line under it at this stage as she didn’t want to disappoint people involved in the show or viewers watching it. But, she said on Wednesday, “people seem to respect the decision that I didn’t want to force something that’s not there, or that I wouldn’t feel good about writing”. She would be clutching at straws to tie plots together in a third series, she said, and would “rather end it now and be happy with it”.

“There’s nothing worse than regretting something you did,” she added.

RTÉ publicity shot from ‘Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope’ by Stefanie Preissner. Danielle (Nika McGuigan) applies make-up to Aisling (Séana Kerslake)
RTÉ publicity shot from ‘Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope’ by Stefanie Preissner. Danielle (Nika McGuigan) applies make-up to Aisling (Séana Kerslake)

She tweeted: “Thank you to everyone who watched the show, who saw themselves in Aisling and Danielle. Here’s to messy nights, messy friendships and the real heroes – kind taxi drivers.”

Both the first and second series of Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope are now on Netflix, which has introduced her drama to a wider international audience.

The show has proved a successful jumping-off pad for a young writer who says she was “green” and inexperienced when she started writing the first series. Preissner is heading to LA on Sunday for a week, to work with Paramount TV on developing a new TV series.

She is keeping schtum on the storyline (there’s a “non-disclosure” ) but we could guess it may feature the lives of 20-somethings, and friendship. “Perhaps,” she acknowledges, saying she writes about what she knows. The characters will be American, and while she doesn’t rule out the possibility that a Corkonian might “pop up”, it will not be centred around Irish characters.

“With Netflix there’s an appetite for international voices, not just American or British characters,” she says. “They want the culture of the author; they want you to write from your experience.” With production companies now, “there is a realisation that whether people have American or Irish accents, there is nothing different, people have the same experiences”. So “the market is not as delineated” as it was.

Next month she is back in the US, this time in New York, working on another show which is at a later stage of development, for First Look Media. The plot follows a girl with disrupted circadian rhythm, who lives her life at night, “which is always seen as a dangerous time for women”. She must navigate work and relationships in New York at night-time.

She enjoys working with US production companies, but plans are at too early a stage to know when either show will be on screen.

'Situationships'

While she will spend a more sustained period in the US when the show is in production, she has no intention of moving to Hollywood. “Dublin is my home and it’s where I’m going to stay.” And she hopes to do “loads of work with RTÉ, if they’ll have me”. There are no particular plans “but some intentions to collaborate”.

In the meantime, this week sees the first of her four programmes on RTÉ Radio 1, Situationships, which looks at relationships that we were born into, fell into, forced out of and chose to be in.

Thursday night looks at relationships between sisters, and is co-hosted by Preissner’s close friend – “my bestie” she tweeted – Rachel Yoder. “I was an only child and I always wanted a sister,” she says, while Yoder has a sister. Their exploration of the topic includes Grainne Seoige offering her the chance to be a Seoige. Eventually Preissner comes to the realisation that “you can’t grow a sister”.

Other topics in the four-part series about female relationships are mentors and heros; housemates; and enemies.

She has just finished writing her second book, No. It’s a Full Sentence, about her inability to say no to people. Her first book, Why Can’t Everything Just Stay the Same?, has just been reprinted.

“I just finished my book!!” she tweeted on Monday. “The FREEEDOM [sic]. It’s like the last school bell has rung and we’re running out of the building for summer holidays. HUZZAH!”.

Situationships is on Radio 1 on Thursday Aug 2nd at 10pm.

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