The first season finale of Boss, starring Kelsey Grammer on Starz dropped a bombshell in viewers' laps by revealing that Mayor Tom Kane (Grammer) has a degenerative disease that is bound to affect his decision-making as he slides further into it without letting others in on it. But the show is so much more than just one man's personal journey, looking at larger-scale issues in a corrupt city. And the second season, returning to Starz in just a few weeks, is expanding its world with new characters, new dynamics, and new bad choices-- for a number of the characters.
Jonathan Groff comes in as Ian Todd, who in his own words is "one of the new employees of Mayor Kane. [He's] very ambitious, very smart, but very green and trying to sort of catch up with all of the things in the office and trying to sort of make his way and get as close to Mayor Kane as he possibly can."
Naturally, he has some less-than-squeaky-clean motives as to why he wants to get close to the Mayor, and he's holding onto some dark secrets that will come out to the audience before they come out to some of the other characters within the show.
Tip "T.I." Harris joins the cast as Trey, an equally ambitious young man who comes from a very different world.
"He comes from a hostile, hazardous environment, but he has plans to, you know, populate his influence from that environment into politics using his knowledge of how politicians...use certain neighborhoods and certain regions to influence voters and so on and so forth, so he feels that he could do just as good of a job at that as they can, and he has an interesting approach to it."
Mona, another new Mayor Kane employee, is played by Sanaa Lathan, and is a politically savvy woman who grew up on the South Side and is in this job now to be able to give back to the disenfranchised.
"She grew up in a community that was very disenfranchised, and I believe that she pursued politics to be an advocate for those people in that community...She's really concerned about the community and wants to make sure they're not abandoned. And I think Kane is really the only one who can do something about it, so when she has the opportunity to work with him, she takes it."
But Mona and Mayor Kane's politics may not always see eye-to-eye, and his eyes may not always be on hers anyway, as Lathan added that "he takes a little bit more interest...than is political."
Series executive producer Farhad Safinia shared that the most interesting thing about the second season is just how the show plays with strong characters who come up against each other, like Mona and Mayor Kane, neither one willing to budge on their stances, believing they are individually in the right.
"The show is so populated by slippery, shifty, completely unreliable, corrupt characters," Safinia laughed. "There's some genuine butting of heads that occur, and the reason simply is that when someone may seem incorruptible, how does Kane get around that? It's a tough thing for him to deal with because every other person he's every come across is easily manipulated."
Yet, Safinia didn't want audiences to expect Mayor Kane to have a major breakthrough in the season and suddenly see the error of his ways. Even where his family is involved, it will continue to be a strain and a struggle, and he is in no way ready to admit he may be at fault.
"When we joined him in the first episode of the first season, he's so far away from being a completely realized human being. We refer to him as a monster so much, and I think in order for him to even be able to redeem himself by reaching out to others, he first has to figure out how to put himself back together and not be such a compromised human being as he is when we first see him. He does some pretty horrific things-- not just in the first season, but shocking, horrific things in the second season, too," Safinia noted.
But maybe after the lessons he learns in season two, Mayor Kane will be on the road to redemption in season three?* Is that even a color you want to see on this character? Sound off in the comments below!
Boss returns to Starz on August 17th 2012.
*Please note Starz has not officially renewed Boss for season three, though both Safinia and Grammer felt confident that the network is interested in the show because of their strong storytelling.
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