EXCLUSIVE | Home Before Dark's Dara Resnik on Season 2 and Richie Fife mystery: 'Kids are natural investigators'

Hilde Lisko's earnest quest to find out what happened to his father's childhood best friend Richie Fife has most than just real life facts at its origins


                            EXCLUSIVE | Home Before Dark's Dara Resnik on Season 2 and Richie Fife mystery: 'Kids are natural investigators'
Brooklynn Prince as Hilde Lisko, Dara Resnik (Apple TV+)
ADVERTISEMENT

Just a short month ago, Apple TV+ brought to its streaming platform a slightly dramatized version of the story of Hilde Lysiak — a journalistic prodigy who broke a murder in her own hometown at the age of nine. Lysiak was turned into Hilde Lisko, played by the exceptional Brooklynn Prince whose performance was the most talked about thing of the show. But it is still the story's core plot that has us intrigued. And if co-creator Dara Resnik is to be believed, the mission behind infusing the mystery of Richie Fife was to show "kids the truth about hard topics."

ADVERTISEMENT

The story sees Hilde as a precocious little fourth-grader who moves to the quaint town of Erie Harbor after her father loses his job. Pegged on the real-life story of Lysiak, the show's Hilde too has been inspired by her father's profession as a reporter from a very young age. At the tender age of nine, she runs her own newspaper in print and doesn't mind running off into the night with escaped convicts in search for her story.

ADVERTISEMENT

Following Lysiak's story, Hilde gets a lot of flak when she reports the death of a local woman and questions whether its suicide or murder, thus earning negative criticism from several residents of the town. But Hilde's story also sparks off the reopening of a cold murder case that her father still hasn't been able to get over — the mysterious disappearance of his best friend Richie Fife. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Brooklynn Prince as Hilde Lisko (Apple TV+)

The first season follows Hilde doing all she can to dig out the truth behind what happened to Richie after he was kidnapped in front of his friends and never seen again. Hilde does this thinking she can fix her father by unfurling the truth but as Resnik would like to point out, the show aims at establishing it is not a child's job to fix her parents.

ADVERTISEMENT

Speaking about her favorite heartbreaking scene from the series, Resnik told MEA Worldwide (MEAWW) exclusively: "There’s a moment in Episode 5 where Hilde’s just gotten scooped up by the sheriff and her mom picks her up at the station. She loads her kid in the car and after staying stoic for hours, Hilde loses it. Her mom thinks it’s because it was scary to get arrested, but no, Hilde is upset because she lost the evidence that might have helped solve this unsolved case and fix her dad."

ADVERTISEMENT

"She cries as her mom holds her, and explains, 'It’s Dad’s job to fix Dad', not Hilde’s but they’re a family and they’re all in this together. As someone who put my kid through a divorce, it was really important to me to send that message to kids. It’s not your job to fix your parents, that’s our job. We get through the hardest stuff as a family, even if that family looks different sometimes," she added. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Brooklyn Prince as Hilde Lisko, the real-life Hilde Lysiak (IMDb/Creative Commons)

That aside, the fictional aspect of Richie Fife's tale also has interesting origins. "Hilde’s story came to my attention in the wake of the 2016 election when the term ‘fake news’ was going viral. The country seemed to be questioning the definition of ‘facts,’ and there was this young reporter who was determined to hold a fact in her hand like an object and say 'here it is.' My own daughter is like that. Kids are natural investigators — they want to know, to understand," Resnik said.

ADVERTISEMENT

"In part, I wanted to make this show for my daughter and for us to watch together. As for the kidnapping mystery, the real story was that Matt Lysiak was disillusioned by what print journalism had become, and withdrew from the family to an extent. It was Hilde’s reporting that brought him back to life. We wanted to find a way to stay close to that emotional truth, but give the show an engine that could pull us through, and so Richie Fife was born," she added. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Prince's impeccable disposition of a little girl trying to fix issues in the adult world goes hand in hand with Jim Sturgess playing the role of her father Matt. Bringing his seasoned expertise in playing layered roles on screen, Sturgess is both stubborn yet devastated as Matt, but it is the incredible chemistry between him and Prince that is to watch out for. "We are incredibly grateful and lucky that the chemistry between Jim and Brooklynn is so palpable; it felt like that the second he walked into a room with her. That spark between them — the love, the goofiness, the respect — was here the moment they first met," Resnik said about filming what has been labeled a "townie noir" by most critics.

ADVERTISEMENT



 

 

At its surface, 'Home Before Dark' might be the story about little kids running around trying to solve a cold murder mystery, but deep within its pages, it also tackles bullying, racial bias, child abuse, and even wrongful incarceration. While Resnik notes how working with such a diverse and massive child cast must be done remembering they are kids and need to do things that other kids do, she also believes there is no keeping dark secrets from children — probably why they are the core investigative committee when it comes to unraveling Erie Harbor's deep secrets.

ADVERTISEMENT

"My sister, a teacher, always says, 'there are no such things as secrets in a house with children,'" Resnik said.

"Even if you don’t name it, kids know something bad is happening, and if you don’t name it, they will come up with their own answers. I wanted to make a show that told kids the truth about hard topics. Bullying was an important topic to tackle. Racial bias and wrongful incarceration are issues about which I’m passionate, and I was proud that we even found an artful way to discuss abuse that is both real, but also subtle, and doesn’t scare our younger viewers," she added, while elaborating on how the show shifts tone back and forth in between, and its significance in contemporary television.

ADVERTISEMENT

So for everybody complaining, asking about who exactly the show is made for, Resnik shuts down critics saying: "I fully believe that question — 'Who is this for?' — is not a question anyone got when making 'ET' or 'The Goonies' or 'Stand by Me" because those movies starred boys, and we are used to the imagery. Suddenly you’re asking a little girl to carry a family show with dark undertones, just like those movies, and everyone goes 'but who is this for?' We conceived it as a show everyone in a family could watch together, and given the reaction we’re getting from families quarantined all over the world and watching it, I think we were right."

ADVERTISEMENT

You heard it from MEAWW first. We told you 'Home Before Dark' is a brilliant quarantine watch with your kids!

Brooklynn Prince as Hilde Lisko in the center. (Apple TV+)

ADVERTISEMENT

But what also makes the series so brilliant is the way it segregates reality from imagination and the present from the past. Every time Hilde is thinking something or imagining a possible scenario, the scene switches from real-life people to animation — filled with shadows as if weaving elaborate lore. Likewise, when Matt recounts the past or flashbacks come about, the pale, cold undertones of the present turn into warm sepia ones signifying the past, something that Resnik thanks her brilliant cinematographer friend Alice Brooks, and "the guys at Aspect" for.  

ADVERTISEMENT

With a plot so gripping, speculations surrounding what other mysteries will unravel in a second season has definitely piqued the interest of viewers. Sadly, the wait is going to be longer than initially planned, as per Resnik. "We don’t know when the second season will debut yet — obviously we had to pause because of the pandemic — but we want it as badly as you do! As for plots… you’ll have to wait and see," she revealed.

ADVERTISEMENT

At the moment she is doing what she loves while also "homeschooling my child, cleaning my house, and hunting for toilet paper." But she also adds, "I’m much too fortunate to truly complain. I’d urge everyone to talk to their kids about this time. Explain what a virus is; explain you don’t know when this will end. Tell them how you feel about it. As I said, there are no such things as secrets in a house with children."

ADVERTISEMENT

As for upcoming projects, Resnik revealed she is co-running a mini-writers’ room for a social horror series called 'The Horror of Dolores Roach'.

"It’s based on the Gimlet podcast of the same name with Amazon and Blumhouse as the network and studio. It’s been a total blast."

ADVERTISEMENT