Peter McKenna Breaks Down Kin Season 1, Amanda and Michael's Journies, and That Explosive Finale!

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We had the chance to chat with Kin co-creator and writer Peter McKenna shortly after we had access to the final two episodes of Kin Season 1.

If you haven't watched Kin Season 1 Episode 8 yet, please do not read further. Once we saw the end, our interview changed course to focus on the stunning conclusion. We could have talked with Peter for hours, but we got some great insight in the time we shared.

Remember to shield your eyes if you've yet to catch the finale.

Michael and Eamon - Kin

WOW. I had a whole other set of questions ready before I watched the last two episodes, and oh my gosh! On the general end, the entire saga is so Shakespearean in scope.

There are so many layers and misdirects and things that just come out of the blue. Can you talk a bit about how Kin came about, what your inspiration was, and whether we are off base in seeing Shakespeare?

Yeah, well, honestly, I was in a very fortunate position where I was developing a project with BRON [Studios], and the executive I was dealing with at the time, David Davoli, who's at television now, kind of gave me a blank canvas. He just said, 'go write the show you want to write.'

And I said, 'I'd like to write a family drama.' I love family dramas. Many of my favorite shows are based around families like Succession or The Crown or Peaky Blinders or any number of them like I really do, and I think it's really rich territory.

Jimmy & Amanda - Kin Season 1 Episode 2

You can explore so many emotional issues or emotional storylines and all that within the family. And I decided to tell a story about a family of criminals in Dublin and the interrelationships with them and the pressure.

I've done a bit of research on gangland in Ireland. And what really struck me about it was I know it's presented as glamorous, but their lives are so filled with trauma.

You'd read about a guy who's been arrested, and his brother had been killed, or his father's in prison, and his sisters had an overdose, and he just like, oh my God, their lives are just like a pressure cooker of trauma all the time.

And I thought that's kind of rich terrain for a family drama. You know, to get this family of characters that, hopefully, the people enjoy watching, and then just turn the screw on them, put the pressure on and see what happens.

Charlie Cox as Michael Kinsella

Was Michael always going to be at the center of the Kinsella drama, or did audiences determine that with their easy association with Charlie Cox?

Well, I'd say there are a few things, if I'm totally honest. Charlie's character is one of the main two characters in the show, in my opinion. When I talk about the show, and I think about the show, and I sit down to write every episode, look at the two, Amanda and Michael, and I see what's going on.

And what I tried to do across many of the episodes, as well, was have a scene between them on their own, in every episode, that feels, and if you went through each episode, there's always a scene where there's just the two of them, and they're talking, and usually, it's quite truthful.

And it's emotionally truthful and emotionally honest in a way that many of the other scenes these characters have aren't because of the nature of their life.

Enjoying Each Other's Company - Kin Season 1 Episode 7

But to go back to your question, Charlie, like Clare [Dunne], is an amazing talent. That's clear to anybody who watches it. She's an incredible actress, but she's also an incredible writer; she's an incredible woman, she's incredibly impressive. When you see her in an interview, she's really smart.

And I would say there's a degree that people latched onto Charlie and Aidan [Gillen] and Ciaran [Hinds] maybe because they had the biggest names in it. There's also this thing I would imagine ... is that gangster shows are generally aimed at a male audience, and they are kind of male-centric.

And, and this show, we have lots of male characters, but I wouldn't say it's male-centric. For me, it's like, there's a lot of interesting female characters in it, as well, with Birdy, with Nikita as the show goes along, with Amanda.

And what I really wanted to do was explore three different generations of women and how they approach and deal with the personalities and deal with their lives within this criminal kind of environment.

Amanda Drinks - Kin

Well, Amanda's arc is probably one of the best I've seen. She's one of the best female protagonists I've seen in ages, and her arc is so complete by the end of the season. And yet, you introduce a whole bunch of new questions that we need to address.

But first, how do you view Amanda within the overall saga? Right now, I see her as reaching for the stars. She's obviously taken the bull by the horns, and then, with everything that happens in the finale, I imagine Amanda and Birdy to be the two to look out for in season two.

And there's going to be a season two because I can't imagine there wouldn't be.

Well, we don't know that yet, but we can talk about season one. We have no idea, but I am thinking about it, and I've written a first draft of episode one in anticipation and the hope that there will be one.

For me, in a way, Amanda arc is the clearest, and she travels the furthest across the show for many reasons and in many ways, which is why I really admire Charlie's performance.

Anna & Michael - Kin Season 1 Episode 6

Charlie gets less, in a way. Amanda is a very propulsive character. The decisions she makes causes things to happen. From the end of episode one onward, she decides things, things happen, she pushes the story forward as a writer, and she's a great character.

Charlie is a more interior character, and he's more internal, and he's less kind of propulsive, but that's what makes him interesting. We felt it was the dynamic between the two of them.

But what I had done, and this would be no surprise to you if you've watched the last two episodes now, is, like, the journey for Amanda. For me, Amanda is my Michael Corleone. In the very first episode, she says to her son, 'what I do is different.' And that's kind of like, 'this is my family, K? It's not me' at the wedding at the beginning.

And then, by the very end of the season, she's at the very heart of it. Not kind of like she was in a state of denial in the beginning. She probably didn't want to get involved. There's tragedy in her life, and that begins to change everything. And also kind of what interests me about her is she's not born into this life.

Birdy in Pink - Kin Season 1 Episode 6

The others were born into it. So they don't do rules of the world, like, you can do this, you can't do that, you must do it this way, you must adhere to the structures of this world. Where she's married into it, and she's freer to make decisions and do what she wants and go behind people's backs because she's not constrained by all of that.

nd I also wanted, this is like going forward, I wanted to give her something that she's just really good at, something that's bad if you know what I mean, that kind of feeling that suddenly, she's empowered; she's been on the sidelines, laundering money, raising her kids, but kind of being sidelined, not really taken seriously, not given any voice,

In the first episode, she's never in any of the meetings about business. She's very much outside it. And as the show goes along, you see her smarts; you see her strategic mind, you see how clever she is.

And she has the support of both Michael and Jimmy, which gives her real power, especially Michael. She begins to get a taste for it, and she begins to use her smarts, and that causes a fraction within the family as it goes along.

Amanda Takes Charge - Kin Season 1 Episode 7

The final ten minutes of the finale was absolutely beautiful, the way that it rolled out with Amanda in church at Jamie's Memorial and all of that horrible stuff going down, and now, everything has changed.


How do you expect viewers are going to unpack all of the death and destruction that happened and how it happened in those final ten minutes?

Well, it's funny. And again, I have reference to Godfather, Like it's obvious that has been an inspiration in the final scene where the person steps forward, but I wanted it to be different. I wanted this woman to finally begin to take control of the family and take control of everybody.

And it's also, and this is obvious, it's about grief this season, and it's about a woman's grief. And what she does at the end is make everybody pay. So all the people who've been involved in the death of her son, and that includes Viking, to a degree, and everybody else who stood against her, has paid by the end of it.

Eric in Prison - Kin Season 1 Episode 8

And that is what it's about. It's about this woman, whether it's, she doesn't say it, but you watch it unfold in the end. And Eamon Cunningham is killed, Con Doyle is killed, Frank has the overdose, Viking's in prison. Everybody has stood in her way and made life difficult for her along the way has been made to pay. And I thought there was something kind of nice about that.

Now, that won't make her life very easy going forward, like that creates a lot of problems for her and all that kind of thing. But I wanted to keep that arc, but I also wanted to explore the grief of a mother and what a mother will do for her children.

And that's really kind of important to me. And in episode seven, I think it is, where she meets the woman, Noel Lawlor's wife, Jenny Lawler, and she goes like, 'we're both mothers' and she goes, 'you would not believe the things I've done for my children.'

And that's everything to Amanda. Like, there is, and I think it works as an arc across eight episodes. And perhaps, we won't get a second season; who knows? But it feels complete in a way; it feels like a complete story in a funny kind of way to me.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Kin Quotes

Don't tell me to calm down, you know that winds me up even more.


Nikki: Michael. He's quieter than I thought. He's real shy or something.
Eric: He's not shy when you cross him.