The promotional materials for Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse make the basketball-centric show seem like a drama—but it’s actually one of the funniest shows on TV right now. The LeBron James-produced series chronicles rising basketball superstar Cam Calloway (Jessie Usher) and his eccentric family as they navigate his newfound fame. Oh, and the show takes place—and is filmed—in Atlanta.
We caught up with several of the show’s stars and the series creator on the Buckhead set to see what’s new in season two.
What’s happening with your characters this season?
Jessie Usher (Cam): The first season we spent a lot of time [on] how Cam handles his new situation. Now the character has found himself somewhat. Cam is able to handle his lifestyle, and he kind of has this man-of-the-house vibe about him. There are still a lot of things that throw him off, but the way he handles it is completely different. I don’t want to give away too much, but he’s living that young, wild, and free lifestyle. He does get a little attraction to a young lady who he really ends up liking.
This season [also] takes place mid-basketball season, so that has changed things. He’s having to deal with the game, coaches, appearances, all that kind of stuff that comes with it. It pretty much consumes all of Cam’s time.
Teyonah Parris (Missy): In the beginning of the season we get to watch Missy go through a little self-discovery. You get to see the parts of her that aren’t so polished, the parts of her that are human and aren’t so put together and perfect. So that’s fun.
Tichina Arnold (Cassie): [Cassie] finds new love. It’s gonna be really fun, a very interesting dynamic. I think she’s still growing into her life of newfound money. Her temper’s still hot, but I think she’s becoming a little more comfortable in the world that they’re living in, and she’s making it work for herself.
Erica Ash (M-Chuck): There’s going to be some serious damage control that needs to be done for M-Chuck, lets put it that way. She’s going to bring the family and herself into some shenanigans. But she’s also got some really tender moments, she goes to the extremes very well in this season.
This season the Calloways have a brand new house—a mansion in Buckhead! What’s that been like?
Usher: It’s a huge shift from the penthouse, which was hard to film in. This makes it a lot easier. We have more room and more opportunities, crazier things that we can do here.
Arnold: This is Cam’s house, and he’s our bread and butter, so instead of moving on his own, he’s decided to bring his family with him. Last season Mary Charles (M-Chuck) and I had our own place. I think it’s a lot easier story-wise to all live [together]. I hope we stay on location; it makes it a little more interesting to watch, and I feel like I’m doing a movie every day.
In the first season, the show usually ended in an ad hoc group therapy session. Is that something you’ll continue?
Mike O’Malley (series creator): Thank you for noticing that, because it is by design. I think at the core of the show is this family that really loves one another. I’m interested to know what it was like at Tom Brady’s house [after “Deflategate”]. What is it like when the cameras aren’t rolling? What are the conversations that they’re having? What are the things that he’s saying that aren’t press conference material? That’s the drug of this show.
Usher: Your core group usually gets behind you. They notice that somebody has a trajectory that’s going to take them further than what they could have ever imagined, and they want to push you up in that direction. Nobody can make it this far on their own. Nobody’s that good. Something will tear you down, and you have to have that support system. For Cam, that’s his family, who really care about him and want to make sure not only that he can reach this place, but also that he stays there and grows even further.
Will we see any game time on the court?
Usher: You’ll see Cam in the locker room, you’ll see him with other players, but there’s no gameplay. [Originally] there was some gameplay in the first draft of the first episode. And they brought in a guy from Cleveland, an amazing trainer, and he was kicking my ass for like a month. My whole body was hurting. And then like four days before we were going to shoot, they changed it. I was like, screw it, while he’s here, let’s practice a little bit!
How has your experience been in Atlanta so far?
Parris: I love it. I’m from South Carolina, and I moved to New York when I was 17, so I never actually got to live near home as an adult. Here, I’m only a couple hours away from my family, so I’ve seen [them] more in this span than I have in the last five years. And I love the restaurants, the cool little spots to hang out.
Arnold: I used to own a house in Fayetteville years ago before everybody started moving here back in the ’90s. And then I just migrated back to California. I was like, ah yeah, the country’s not really for me. [But] you guys got some good food. I haven’t had sugar in years, now I’m drinking sweet tea like it’s water.
Usher: Atlanta has this obsession with strip clubs. It is like the thing, you know what I mean? You got to L.A. and you go to Hollywood Boulevard; you come to Atlanta and you go to a strip club. It’s crazy.
Ash: I’m from Atlanta! Decatur, where it’s greater! I went to Emory University and DeKalb School of the Arts. This is my hometown, my parents live here, so it’s really exciting that we get to shoot here.
Do you feel that the show captures Atlanta well?
Ash: Definitely. I love the shots of the city, the skyline, things like that. I’m living in L.A. and New York now, it’s so different. You come here and see these big beautiful antebellum-style houses. It’s kind of a signature of Atlanta.
O’Malley: We have a lot of people in the crew from here. We shot at the High Museum; that was great. We wanted to shoot at the Center [for Civil and Human Rights], but I think our material is getting too risqué for them.
Tell us a few of your favorite places to eat.
O’Malley: Coffee at Octane, Antico, Star Provisions, and Buckhead Diner.
Parris: True Food Kitchen. I probably had everything on their menu after my first week here. I was there every meal.
Arnold: I love Going Coastal, I love Coast, Umi, and Chops! Woo Chops is good!
Ash: Oh my gosh, where don’t I like to eat? I’m a huge foodie, so I like to try new restaurants as much as possible. One restaurant that I’m actually looking forward to trying here that I have not tried is Canoe. I really like R. Thomas. And my mom’s house, which is not a restaurant. My mother, she throws down. She makes the best country breakfast in the world.
Usher: There’s a place called Istanblue in Buckhead; it’s a great lounge. I love Waffle House! Anytime I have somebody visit me from out of town, I’m like, “We’re going to the Waffle House.” “Where do you want to eat?” “I don’t care about the nice restaurants, we’re going to the Waffle House first.” Then you can appreciate the nice restaurants. I love it.
Season two of Survivor’s Remorse premieres Saturday, August 22 at 9:30pm on Starz.