Over the course of three seasons with Apple TV+’s dramedy ‘Trying’, audiences have seen Nikki (Esther Smith) and Jason (Rafe Spall) on the journey to have a baby. And when they find out that they can’t, they go through the process of adopting a child—with many additional challenges along the way.
Now in its third season (which premiered earlier this summer), we see Jason and Nikki achieve part of their dream by getting the chance to take care of a child. But as we see in the season 2 finale, Princess—the child Nikki and Jason were approved to look after—has a brother, and he stows away in their car.
With their journey advancing more than ever, stars Esther Smith and Rafe Spall dive more into how life’s challenges continue to pop up.
Where do we find Nikki and Jason at the beginning of season 3? Because the finale of the second season left on a pretty big reveal.
Esther: That was actually based on a true story with Princesses’ brother being found in a car because he stowed away. So, season 3 kicks off from that point where Nikki and Jason have only been approved for one child… But, they don’t want to separate these two siblings. So their journey is to desperately try and keep them together and look after them both, and they’ve got 12 weeks to prove they can do that. With that are all of these other challenges and things thrown into the mix—they potentially might lose their flat and they have to try and desperately bond with these children, but that’s proved really hard. It’s another kind of rollercoaster of different things being thrown at them through the series.
How would you describe Nikki and Jason as parents?
Rafe: I think [Jason] is really good at it. I think he has an ease and confidence with kids and he’s really fun. He’s like a big kid himself—he’s really good at playing with them. And I think he’s good as one can be when you find yourself the parent of kids with fully formed personalities, which is kind of scary for them both. But, I think he’s better at it than he thought he would be.
Esther: And I think it’s the reverse with Nikki. I think Nikki had this idea of what she was going to be like and she thought it would be very successful—because she’s a bit of a control freak. She likes to be in control of things and it turns out you can’t really control two other people and that dynamic. But she’s incredibly sensitive and an empath. Being empathetic, she can see these two children have come from a very difficult background and have been taken to so many different places, and I think she’s just so sensitive to their needs or maybe why they are acting the way they are acting. So, even though she’s not the fun parent, I think she gives herself a bit of a hard time with that, because she’s very good. She shows that she’s present and that she’s there and she’s willing to adapt.
Rafe, you brought up a good point that there’s an extra layer to this adoption because the kids are older and have formed personalities.
Rafe: A lot of kids that go up for adoption have generally had to deal with a lot of trauma and hardships, and they’ve dealt with a lot of trust issues and fears of abandonment. Which is why their relationship to getting these two kids is so moving… because this boy relies on his oldest sister like his mom. There’s this cute bit in the show where I’m trying to do Tyler’s hair and then I do it, and I walk out, and his sister does it then for him and ruffles it up—that’s really sweet. It’s just given me such respect for people who adopt kids, especially older kids. Kids get to a certain age and people don’t want them, it’s really sad. People don’t want kids past six or seven because they’re established and it’s scary, the idea of taking them on. So, there are a lot of children left like that in the system.
With the difficult moments also come heartwarming moments with the kids for Nikki and Jason. Being with these characters for three seasons now, is that fulfilling for you both?
Esther: Yeah, because you’re right, we have been with these characters since their journey from the start. I think I found series 3 particularly moving because we know the hardships they’ve had to go through to get to this point. Those certain moments where you see those little wins just feels really satisfying, and it sounds ridiculous to say, but we’re on their side as much as everyone else is. Playing them, you want them to get their dream and you want it to work for them, so, those moments are really satisfying and beautiful.
How do we Nikki and Jason’s dynamic grow as a couple with the addition of Tyler and Princess?
Esther: I think they’re constantly being tested as a couple, and I think it inevitably just makes them stronger. Because really, they’ve had so much thrown at them and they have this obvious foundation—and that’s where it starts, with the love that they have for each other. It enables them to get through all of these hardships, because at the end of the day, I think they will always have each other. Nicki says to Jason in series 1, “If this doesn’t happen, you’re enough.” Which is just beautiful. They are just this strong couple that wants to give their love out to these children and for whatever reason, that seems to be a really hard journey for them.
Rafe: I think they are an aspirational couple where they are tested and they argue, but afterward, they work it out and their relationship is deepened because of it. Their love for each other is really genuine and true, and as an audience, they are really lovely to watch. It’s gorgeous…they have real, true love for each other. It’s hard, but life is hard sometimes, and we’re defined by how we deal with those moments in life. I’m proud of the tone of our show, because it has a lot of pathos. People want to see people trying to do the right thing.
Overall, what do you hope people take away from season 3 of ‘Trying’?
Rafe: It never ends…you never get to a point where you’ve completed it and then, you know, get the kids and everything is fine. Hard things will continue to happen for all of us forever… and there will be darkness and there will be light. Hang on to the joy and joyful moments and those moments of connection, because these are people that are very connected with each other and they want to connect to kids and their family members. And really, that’s the most important thing…connecting to other humans. Because, the sh*t will always be there.
Catch season 3 of ‘Trying’ on Apple TV+
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