Los Espookys—the bilingual, magical realism-infused comedy from the minds of Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega, and Fred Armisen—has finally returned with its second season, but production for this latest batch of episodes was well underway before coronavirus brought the world to a halt in early 2020.
“Shortly after the first season aired, we started writing Season 2, and we were a little more than halfway through production when COVID hit. We shoot in Santiago, so we had to come back from Chile,” explains Fabrega. Besides being one of the show’s co-creators and writers, she also stars as the hilariously, helplessly naive Tati and takes up directing duties for the first time this season.
Fabrega and Torres chat with me over Zoom ahead of the Season 2 premiere, both of them based in Brooklyn. Torres appears alongside Fabrega in Los Espookys as the spoiled and spiritually gifted Andrés, who can casually call upon the Moon (Yalitza Aparicio of Roma fame) for favors. With Tati’s sarcastic sister Úrsula (Cassandra Ciangherotti) and the puppy dog-like yet horror-obsessed Renaldo (Bernardo Velasco), they make up the titular Espookys. The four of them engineer supernatural events for their clients, but also stumble into all sorts of fantastic phenomena, sometimes accompanied by Renaldo’s bumbling uncle, Tico (Armisen).
Nothing is too strange for Los Espookys; this season alone includes a manufactured eclipse, a gravedigger too lazy to bury people in their actual plots, and a demon-turned-political intern. Despite the gap in production (Ciangherotti had a child in the meantime), everything about the show feels consistent. Visually, it is otherworldly, yet satisfyingly substantial.
“I’m always in awe of what our production designer and our line producers are capable of doing,” Torres says. “I think that there’s a part of me that when we’re writing, we’re like, Okay, we’re writing it this way, but we know that it’s probably not going to work that way. And that was the way that I felt with the lighthouse [in the Season 2 finale]. I was like, Okay, we’re humoring ourselves by writing in a lighthouse. That lighthouse is going to very quickly turn into a balcony. But no! I mean, everyone is so talented and so excited to do it that I can’t recall something that I wish we could have done that we weren’t able to. It’s a very scrappy show.”
He adds, “I like that everything in the world of Los Espookys is so tangible and you can feel the human hand that made them.”
“[Our art director and production designer] Jorge Zambrano, he and his team are really get the show and they love working on the show and the sort of challenges that it presents to them. And they always find a way to execute,” Fabrega explains. She in particular cites the Season 2 finale, “El Eclipse (The Eclipse),” in which Zambrano and his team used a large shade to mimic the penumbra of an eclipse over gazing spectators.
That episode also happened to be one of two that Fabrega directed this season, an undertaking made easier because she already wears so many hats in the making of the show.
“I think if I didn’t also showrun or produce I would have felt a little more out of the loop, but because I know the show so well, it was easy to walk into the director role,” Fabrega recalls. “And [Julio and I] were going to direct the last two episodes together, but then schedule-wise Julio had to finish up his movie as we were starting to prep, so it was kind of like, Focus on your movie, I’ll focus on this. We were gonna do it together, so I’m assuming that if there’s a next season that we would each direct.”
Besides Fabrega’s directorial debut, this new season of Los Espookys also features guest appearances by Kim Petras and Isabella Rossellini, the latter of whom plays herself.
“We knew that it would be fun to have an actor play themselves up against [Renaldo’s cousin] Sonia trying to get their domain name back, and Isabella is someone that we love, and in many ways her work is the spiritual predecessor [to Los Espookys],” Torres explains, continuing, “Obviously Los Espookys has a certain reverence for Lynch and his work and Isabella and her work. And so then we were like, will we just ask her? And we did, and she was into it.”
When I ask what other celebrity would be an ideal guest star, Torres hems and haws before deciding, “Björk, but as like, a pharmacist.”
“Yeah, playing a really like, whatever role,” Fabrega says.
“A bank teller on vacation,” Torres laughs.
And the suggestion makes sense—Björk is an honorary Espooky, relishing in the abnormal just like the central four characters. But which of the actors is most espooky? Fabrega suggests it’s Ciangherotti.
“In a very kind of loose interpretation of the word espooky, because I think Cassandra is very into the spiritual, otherworldly, divine—more so than the rest of us. So that’s why I want to say Cassandra,” Fabrega offers.
“She’s the one who’s always bringing up dreams,” Torres adds. “Cassandra always had a dream that we’re unpacking. It’s something about her that I adore, but in the more tangible sense of the word, I think maybe Fred because he’s prank-inclined, likely to pull a joke on someone. I feel like that’s more his speed.”
Whether you feel like an honorary Espooky or just like watching their antics, it’s official: the gang is back and ready to wreak horrific havoc.
Los Espookys is available to stream on HBO Max.
Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.