‘Irreverent’ Boss on ‘Complicated Mess’ of Mack & Piper’s Situation After Season 1

Kylie Bracknell and Colin Donnell in 'Irreverent'
Spoiler Alert
Mark Rogers/Matchbox Productions

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Irreverent Season 1.]

Major Chicago trouble is coming to Clump… if there’s an Irreverent Season 2, that is.

The first season of the comedic thriller ended with mob-mediator-turned-fake-reverend Paulo/Mack’s (Colin Donnell) secret out to local cop Piper (Kylie Bracknell), but the hitman sent after him dead. However, there’s a new threat heading their way: Antoinette.

So what could come next if the series is renewed? TV Insider turned to creator Paddy Macrae for answers.

Did you know from the beginning how you wanted to leave the season off with Piper knowing the truth and basically holding Mack’s future in her hands?

Paddy Macrae: Not right at the beginning. We had a pretty good idea a fair way into development, and we were working very closely with Peacock on all those scripts, of course, and debating the end forever, which was a lot of fun actually, because there’s a lot of different ways you can go out. But we certainly wanted to end on some big cliffhanger where the whole world changed around on Mack. He was faced with the choice and then we flip it so that she’s faced with the choice, something that would tear people back in and give them no choice but to come back for a second season.

Was there ever the possibility that Mack would confess to Piper?

Yep. There’s no stone unturned. I wrote quite a few drafts of that finale and beat breakdowns and all kinds of things moving the puzzle pieces around to see what would be the best fit. I think we landed where we were supposed to, but yeah, we talked about confessions.

Talk about the positions you wanted to leave everyone in that final scene, because Mack, Piper, Mackenzie (PJ Byrne), and Daisy (Tegan Stimson) are all involved now in what just happened.

That’s right. We wanted to ratchet the tension right up. We wanted to basically leave everyone with a problem. Everyone knows something now that they didn’t know before or is in on the fact that there’s a bigger problem in play, that the whole kind of house of cards of the illusion of Mack is coming tumbling down, which gives us, as a writing team, incredible scope to dive into Season 2 and try and get out of the corners that we’ve painted ourselves into.

Mackenzie told Mack he could be whoever he wants now. Does Mack even know who he wants to be?

We’ve taken him on such an arc of change by the end of Season 1. He’s very certain who he wants to be at the beginning of the pilot. The place and the people have had an emotional impact on him by the end. I think my answer to that is no, for the first time in his life, he doesn’t know exactly who he wants to be. He thought he did, and now he’s calling into question a lot of the decisions he’s made and a lot of the directions he’s gone down.

Colin Donnell in 'Irreverent'

Mark Rogers/Matchbox Productions

It seems like there’s really nothing left for Mack in Chicago, especially with Lewis (Marcus Johnson) dead. Is there any part of Chicago that could draw him back?

A return to Chicago Med? Maybe Dick Wolf picked the phone up again. [Laughs] Kidding, of course. Certainly the impact of Clump has landed on Mack in a major way. Chicago will always be there as home. It’s really useful as a character point that Mack is from there and of that place and that’s where he feels most comfortable. But at the moment, as it stands, it’s not so much that there isn’t a lot in Chicago for him. There’s a lot in Chicago that he doesn’t want to go anywhere near. Chicago is death. Most of Chicago wants his head on a plate, so he’s going to try and stay away from there as much as he can.

Mack said meeting Antoinette once was enough for him. What can you stay about that threat?

The threat of Antoinette is about to get a whole lot more interesting. If we’re lucky enough to go for Season 2, she’s gonna step up and become pretty terrifying in a very, very cool way. It’s a nice little flip. In Season 1, we realize that Antoinette’s the major problem for Mack. She comes in and out. She’s a peripheral presence. But the intention is that gets a little more scary and a little more tense in Season 2 as she takes over the search and destroy operation from her husband.

Could the fact that Antoinette is this threat influence how Piper might handle things? Because Piper’s law enforcement, you can argue that Mack is kind of in witness protection, so she should maybe protect him…

Yeah, absolutely. It’s such a complicated mess. It’s great. It is a kind of like twist on the witness protection subgenre, this show. And you’re right. You should come into the writers’ room. This is fantastic. This is exactly what we do all the time, and it’s quite fun going, “Wait, but hang on. If she gets there, she’s gonna kill him. Piper’s charged with protecting life, right? So is she gonna be…” These are exactly the discussions we have. A really nice thing that we get to by the end of Season 1 is that everyone is standing in their corners kind of pitted against other people with different alliances crisscrossing the boxing ring.

There were sparks between Mack and Piper. Do they know how they feel about each other?

They [do]. I don’t know if they’d say how they feel about each other. One of the great truths of human relationships is that they’re not always particularly clean or particularly easy and you can’t help who you have chemistry with and often a new entrant into your life can spin you around a bit and make you reconsider things. That’s what we tried to play with through Season 1 and what I’m looking forward to playing with in different ways in Season 2. By the time we finish Season 1, the chessboard has moved completely around on those two, and their relationship will never be able to be the same again, but natural chemistry is natural chemistry. It’s a really interesting thing to consider how they might dance around each other if she’s in on it.

Colin Donnell and P.J. Byrne in 'Irreverent' - The Lord Giveth, and the Lord Taketh Away

Scott Belzner/Matchbox Productions

How much would we see of the old Mack going forward? It seems like that’s who he’d have to be with Antoinette coming. But he can’t be that guy around the people in Clump and maintain his facade.

Exactly. I think the show is at its best when you get a mix of both, when you get the Paulo gangster and the Mack reverend mix. Primarily it’s a show about a guy pretending to be a reverend, so there’s always gonna be that element and that’s often gonna take dominance. But I think there’s real pleasure when you see him take the collar off and become his old self and employ those old skills. So it’ll always be a mix of both. I think that’s where Season 1 lands really well, and if we go again, then that’s the really rich territory for Season 2: the combination of both, because his criminal skill set is what makes him an interesting character and him deploying that in the pulpit in the church, but also as he becomes more and more involved with the criminal element, where he’s more comfortable and more naturally suited.

Who is Mackenzie now? Also, PJ Byrne was hilarious.

Yeah, he’s a genius. He’s so funny, and I wish we could release a version of the show where you saw all the alt lines and ad-libs he came up with for scenes. Some of them were so X-rated they’d certainly never go anywhere near broadcast.

Mackenzie’s undergone arguably the biggest arc of all. He’s gone from faith to losing his faith, married to being separated and then to finding some level of faith and belief again and going through some major traumas in his life across Season 1. The prospects for him of where he goes in terms of how he fulfills his new purpose is great. What I tried to do was leave him in a place where we weren’t sure at all what he was going to do, but he’s so energetic and so enthusiastic about everything he does that it’s fun to think, what is this guy gonna do? Because he doesn’t do things by halves and he’s there now. And he’s hilarious, so you just pop him in situations and watch him go and it’s a joy.

Mack and Daisy’s relationship may have been my favorite. Could he really have left her behind for good?

Great question. So many what ifs? Again, all lines we went down in the writers’ room. Ultimately, probably not. At a character level, there’s no world in which she hadn’t had enormous impact on him and entered his heart. … I’m glad you like that, too, because that’s one of the absolute central relationships of the show and one that I’m really proud of, for sure. Tegan and Colin absolutely nailed it.

What else can you say about a potential second season? Would we see Colin singing?

I can’t say anything because we’re certainly not commissioned for a second season. I’m always optimistic. But those decisions are made by people far, far more intelligent and important than me. I am excited at the possibility. Me and the rest of the writing team have a lot of ideas. The cast even have ideas. They text me ideas all the time.

Will we see Colin singing? The first time I met Colin in the flesh, when he just arrived in Australia, he came down to my office and we had a big hug and a cup of tea and a chat and I said, what about the singing thing? He’s obviously a beautiful singer. He said he usually likes to keep his acting his acting and his singing his singing, with the screen stuff. Obviously, that’s different on Broadway where he sings and acts a lot. There’s a possibility we could get him singing, but I don’t think it would be in a classic Colin Donnell Broadway type way. I think it’d be something a little more pared back, but never say never.

Would you do flashbacks or stick in present day?

There’s always the possibility of flashbacks. I have a mixed relationship with flashbacks myself. I don’t like to use them too liberally. I don’t mind them if they’re done well. Some people do them extremely well. I like them sparse and meaningful and really tied to the present and giving us forward story as well.

Irreverent, Season 1, Streaming Now, Peacock