Season two of the anthology series Room 104 premieres on HBO Nov. 9, airing at 11:30 p.m. Mark and Jay Duplass created the series, about a single room of a cheesy chain motel, and the stories that take place in the room.
The premiere episode sees a trio of young adults renting the room to celebrate the birthday of one of them. The birthday girl’s older sister, with whom she does not enjoy spending time, was not invited, but catches wind of the celebration and turns up in room 104. Big sister is very creepy. It does not go well.
The cast for season two includes Mahershala Ali, Judy Greer and Rainn Wilson.
Executive producer Sydney Fleischmann, who got her start as Mark Duplass’s assistant on HBO comedy Togetherness, said season two goes for some new things.
“We step it up and take some risks,” she said. “We try some weird, interesting things.”
She suggests Room 104’s anthological nature is something of a break from the highly binge-able dramas it competes with for viewers’ attention. “The viewer can pop in and out each week,” she said. “They don’t feel obligated the way they do with serialized shows. Every episode is different.”
Season two’s episodes incorporate drama, musical and sci fi, she said. “It runs the gamut. We get to play in different spaces.”
Besides the Duplass brothers and Fleischmann, the exec producers are Mel Eslyn and Xan Aranda.
HBO shows two episodes on premiere night Friday.
Asked about her favorite episode of the new season, Fleischmann is hesitant to pick one out, but said “Josie & Me” struck a chord with her. It’s about a woman in her late 20s who has a conversation with herself in college, about something that happened at a fraternity party. “In a way, it’s a big story, but also an intimate story,” said Fleischmann. “It’s different from anything I’ve seen in a long time. But they’re all fun and different.”
Fleischmann said of the musical episode, called “Arnold,” “I can’t wait for people to get those songs stuck in their heads.”
Other work from the Duplass brothers includes HBO’s animated series Animals and the Netflix documentaries Wild Wild Country and Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist. Fleischmann said the brothers bring different voices to their work, and “flex different muscles” from each other on the set.
Animals was recently canceled after three seasons. Fleischmann hopes Room 104 will continue for a good, long while. “We keep reinventing ourselves,” she said. The array of characters and storylines available to an anthological series is “creatively freeing,” noted Fleischmann.