Tig Notaro never wanted her Amazon series One Mississippi to be a stereotypical show about the South. That’s why, she tells EW, the first season focused more on the positives of that area of the U.S. — “the beauty in people and the physical surroundings,” she says. But season 2 (now streaming) is lifting the veil a bit, still showing those beautiful parts but also exploring its more complicated sides, too.
“It just felt like it would be irresponsible to not go into the other realities of Mississippi,” explains Notaro, whose character — also named Tig — encounters people who urge her to “pray away the gay” and celebrate Robert E. Lee’s legacy, a plot point that’s become especially relevant in recent weeks after white nationalists protested the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville this past August.
“The Robert E. Lee element, along with so many other parts of the show, was us wanting to show the complexities of how you don’t know who feels and thinks what, really, until these issues come up,” she says, “and you still have to face these people and deal with them. Do you continue to incorporate them in your life? Or how do you cut them out of your life?”
RELATED: See the season 2 trailer for ‘One Mississippi’
Another issue Notaro and the rest of her team wanted to focus on this season was sexual assault and its various forms. Early on, Tig and her radio show producer-turned-love-interest (Kate, played by Notaro’s real-life wife and series writer Stephanie Allynne) have candid discussions about molestation; later, a male producer masturbates in front of Kate during a meeting, prompting Tig to reveal on air that she was sexually abused by her step-grandfather as a child.
“I think it’s always comforting for somebody to feel like they can relate to somebody’s story or that they’ve been through something that they’re watching, and I think it’s also helpful for people that maybe haven’t experienced it and maybe didn’t understand what other people have gone through and to actually see these situations played out,” Notaro says.
“It gives you a very real idea of what somebody’s gone through,” she continues. “A lot of times people will say, ‘Why don’t you leave? Why’d you let that happen?’ Everyone handles things very differently, and we wanted to show one of the ways that this can happen and how it could be handled.”
Kate and Tig end up encouraging the other to share their own stories of sexual assault, something that paves the way for an honest, open friendship that soon morphs into romance. Notaro clarifies that not everything about this story line is based on reality, though some of the moments were inspired by her early relationship with Allynne, who had never dated a woman before Notaro.
“Stephanie really had such an awakening at a later age,” Notaro explains. “She started to learn so much about herself when she already thought she knew herself so well. It was like she found another door in another hallway to go down, and I think a lot of people can relate to that and have gone through that.”
At one point during this awakening, Kate imagines the two old and gray together — an image Notaro says comes from Allynne’s goals to live to be 100 and die with her wife… who is 15 years older. “I explained to her that I’m 15 years older, so I have to live to be 115, and she’s like, ‘You can do it!'” she laughs. “That’s something I’ve never wanted to do, but now that I’ve met her, I hope I live to be 115.”
Both seasons of One Mississippi are now streaming on Amazon.