‘Pretty Little Liars’ alum plays would-be fashion-design star
With the success of “Riverdale,” it was only logical The CW would go back to the world of Archie Comics for another series.
However, “Katy Keene” is markedly different in theme and tone. Premiering Thursday, Feb. 6, it takes a high-spirited approach to the saga of the title character, an aspiring fashion designer played by “Pretty Little Liars” alum Lucy Hale. She aims to make her mark in New York, as do several friends including Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray, reprising her “Riverdale” role) – of Josie and The Pussycats fame – who has moved to the Big Apple to pursue her music career. Jonny Beauchamp and Julia Chan also have leading roles in the show from prolific executive producer Greg Berlanti and much of the “Riverdale” creative team.
Reasoning that the approach of “Katy Keene” is “halfway between ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Girls,’ ” executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa says the marching orders from the network were for “something bright and optimistic and aspirational, then we kind of took that and ran with it. And it’s nice that the show has such a different tone. It’s fun to be talking about things like Broadway and fashion and not (such ‘Riverdale’ elements as) the Gargoyle King or the Black Hood or an evil cult.”
With Season 2 already ordered, “Katy Keene” gets a direct introduction from “Riverdale” as Hale appears on the parent show the night before the spinoff’s debut, as Veronica Lodge (portrayed by Camila Mendes) visits New York. The new series certainly lets Hale play lighter than her previous CW effort, “Life Sentence,” which cast her as a suddenly cured cancer patient.
“This is definitely a more heightened reality,” she confirms, “but with any character I play, I try to keep it really grounded and real. What I’m excited about with ‘Katy Keene’ is that we’ve created this really amazing, beautiful, optimistic world, but we are going to see the struggling of trying to make it in New York. (Each major character has) a big dream or big goal in the show, and I think that we’re going to explore the struggle of life in general as well.”
As he does on “Riverdale,” Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater (the son of the company’s co-founder) serves as an executive producer of “Katy Keene,” and he clearly wants it to echo what’s been on the page since Katy’s creation 75 years ago. “Designers like Calvin Klein and Betsey Johnson drew inspiration from Katy’s character,” he notes. “And a lot of pop-culture icons now really pay attention to the styles from back then, so it’s a lovely thing that we are able to draw on that part of the Katy Keene history.”