Bones returns for its seventh season tonight, and some things have changed! After six years as TV's most high-profile will-they-won't-they couple, Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan (Emily Deschanel) finally slept together (off-camera) in last season's penultimate episode, and then, in the finale, announced they were going to have a baby. Tonight's premiere picks up a few months after the finale left off, and to prepare for it, we spoke with Bones creator Hart Hanson about the upcoming season, Moonlighting, how the slightly Asperger's-y Brennan will deal with a child, and whether we'll actually get to see them have sex sometime.
I read a number of interviews you and [executive producer] Stephen Nathan did at the time of the finale, and it seemed like you wanted to jump ahead in time basically because you didn't want to show Booth and Brennan be gushy and in brand-new love onscreen.
Well, well, it wasn't so much the gushy. I have been thinking, What is the Moonlighting curse? and there are a thousand different theories. Mine is that when there's a couple that has, you know, unresolved sexual tension and then you resolve it and the only thing that looks different is they walk around arm-in-arm and they call each other by pet names and are squishy, then you just want to kill them. I think it was Stephen Nathan who said, "You really don't want to have dinner with a couple who have recently fallen in love because, ugh." And I do agree with that. And so it's that on Bones we got to replace that unresolved sexual tension with something else that is unresolved, which is how do they deal with having a child together? And I think that was a great and grand gift to us as we go into our seventh season.
One of the things about will-they-won't-they couples is ... you really just want to see them make out.
Yes, and actually watch.
Right. And I think people often think, Oh, I'll want to watch these people make out forever. I'll want to watch six episodes of that. And then, of course, they don't. They get bored. So you guys did a sort of clever, if frustrating thing: Booth and Brennan are now together, but we have barely seen them make out. Yes, they are in a relationship, but there is still this thing you have not shown us, which is them having sex. There's still that carrot.
No pun intended.
Was that on purpose?
It was on purpose. The world always gets to judge if you did something correctly or not. Certainly I know people have been hard on us on the Internet for exactly what you said. People want to see them in bed having sex. And I have a couple responses to that. One is that this is a network TV show. What exactly do you think you're gonna see? You're going to see them drop out of frame and music come up that, you know, "boom chicka wow" music. Um, and so if it's the sex that people wanted to see — and believe me, I'm really not prudey — what we can show is very unsatisfying. If it's romance, that suggests the sex, ehhh, we're not done there yet. We're not done. The next time we get a whack at it — again, no pun intended — is ... well, it takes a while after the baby is born for the magic, the sexual magic, to come back into their lives. We'll deal with that. If we do this correctly, by the time we're done with Bones, people will have seen everything they want to see from Dave and Emily. You know, my mantra is not a unique and revolutionary mantra. It's "you got to give an audience what they want and expect in a way they don't expect." And that's what we endeavor to do at all times.
So does that mean when you guys were filming last year, and you cut away from the scene where they are in bed together and the audience doesn't see anything happen, but it's later revealed they had sex, that you guys had discussed it, and been like, "We don't want to show people this."
Of course we had planned right from the beginning of the season — of season six — to have them go to bed under these circumstances. And then we gave ourselves a pickle. Again, no pun intended. There's gonna be a lot of phallic imagery in this conversation! There's a way to do it that we rejected essentially, which is to show Brennan and Booth getting into Booth's bed because she's heartbroken over losing Vincent Nigel-Murray. And then that turning into something else, which would be very filmic and everything, but we thought it took away from the force of that story. Then the only shock would've been that she was pregnant. And it was just more fun to us to hold that information and then say, "Oh, here's what you missed and, by the way, tune in for season seven." To see if you missed everything you think you've missed.
So you had decided at beginning of this season that they were going to get together?
Yes. It's hilarious because this started coming up, I would say, in the second half of season one. "When are they gonna get together?" And the answer is, as late as we can do it without losing viewers, and you try and guess when that is. And I was certain, and Stephen certainly agreed with me, that it should be by the end of season six. It's time.
So at the beginning of filming season six you were like, "It's gotta be this one, we can tell."
Well, to be really accurate, there's the end of the season, you take a breath, sometimes you get a week off, and in that week off, I would mull and think about, Well, what are we going to do? What is the effect? and come in with a bunch of ideas. Then you talk to your writers' room about it, talk to the other executive producers. And then you have to go to the studio and then the network. And everybody has a vested interest, so it's about finding out, what do they think? And we have differed in those conversations starting about season five.
With the network?
Well, with people in every part. There were writers who thought, "Okay, now it's time. We can't hold back." Or the network would say, "No, not yet." And in the end, I can say that I got my way by hook or by crook. My biggest conundrum was whether or not to do it in season five. By the time we decided not to do it in season five, it was definitely going to be in season six.
Was the network really hesitant because they're scared of this Moonlighting thing?
No, I don't know if anyone's scared of that. I don't think that's the motivator. It's literally everyone talks about what would be best. I never got that kind of feedback, even from scheduling or anything, "Oh, well this will fuck it up. People will stop watching." It was like, "What will be best? What do you replace it with?" And we had a bunch of ideas on, like, what do you replace the sexual tension with? The unresolved sexual tension. And then the minute Emily whispers in my ear, quite early, God bless her, that she was pregnant, it went "Okay, I know what replaces the unresolved sexual tension. It's unresolved 'how do we deal with this baby?'"
What were some other possibilities?
Well, they were all things that just made me wince. One was that they simply fell in love, got married, and started it being a Mr. and Mrs. Smith or a Nick and Nora. The one I hated, that I fought against all the time, was that they get together, they break apart, something happens. All those soap opera things that keep people apart happened. And I just thought, That's the death of us. We did those things with Hodgins and Angela and that was dandy for those characters, but for Booth and Brennan after all these years, I always thought, If these two don't get together, and stay together and be happy, then we've really, really betrayed the audience because they belong together. We had a list of things like this for going into season seven, none of which delighted us. It was the lesser of evils and then this little gift came in the form of Henry Lamar Hornsby, Emily's child, that said, "Okay, I know what to do." It took a little persuading, but right away in my mind, it just went, "Oh, this is gonna work great!"
So they’re staying together forever. You don’t have plans to break them up?
Well, here’s — I’m always nervous about spoiling things because I want people to tune in to see the answer to that question. Let me say this, there’s not gonna be any false barriers. The question now is, “How together are they going to be over this baby?” You know, will they live together? Will they discuss marriage? All those things come into the equation. A line I like very much in the first episode is when Booth says, “I’m not gonna ask you this time.” I mean, this guy keeps asking women to marry him and they keep saying “No.” He asked three women in a row to marry him, they’ve all said “no.” He’s finally learned. And he is going to wait for Brennan to propose and how long will that be? Would it ever happen? That becomes the question of our show. In the meantime, they are together trying to decide how to raise this child and that gives us a lot of story.
Especially for Brennan. I imagine her character is going to change quite a bit having a baby.
Yes. Her essential desire to live in a rational, explicable world, she retains that. And Booth lives in a world full of mysteries and spirituality and emotion, and Brennan tries to find the cause and effect. But I think that if you introduce a baby to a couple like that, that the person who thinks that there is logical cause and effect in everything is the one who is going to face the biggest change, so she has to deal with all that. Booth’s been through it before and he’s already there. He’s a good dad. A lot of this season will be about how is Brennan going to be a good mother. A lot of people have said, “Well, are you gonna have her not bond with the baby?” No. We’re not doing that. She looks into her baby’s face and loves that baby. But she has a bigger distance to go than Booth for that to make sense to her. I think we have a lot of fun this season just hearing Brennan’s explanations for why she is feeling certain ways or dealing with things in a certain way with a baby. One thing initially, there’s the idea of day care. Can you imagine being the person who has to care for Brennan’s baby? I’ll tell you one little spoiler that I haven’t mentioned which is: She’s a scientist and she may want to see the baby’s stools to know how it's doing.
Are you nervous about how it’s gonna be received?
Do you mean am I worried that we’ll get a huge drop in audience or something like that? I’m not nervous about that ... maybe that is what I’m nervous about now that I say it. I’m really hoping that our audience agrees, but I’m uncharacteristically confident that they will. I’m really not the most positive human being when it comes to things like that. I always think, Well, the audience is gonna judge. We do our best and the audience is gonna judge. But let me say this, I’ll be really disappointed if this doesn’t work, if the audience does not like this, because then I’m just flat-out wrong.
Worse than that, you’ll have given credence to another 30 years of the idea that you can’t do this on TV, get a couple together.
Yes! Wouldn’t that be awful? I never thought of that, but it would be wonderful to have someone say, “Well, Bones avoided the Moonlighting curse.”