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Sullivan’s Crossing

Showrunner Roma Roth teases the long-awaited second season of Sullivan’s Crossing

The most-watched Canadian drama of the 2022-’23 season is making its long-awaited return, with the second chapter of Sullivan’s Crossing arriving this week.

Not only did CTV’s small-town heartwarmer — based on the bestselling novels of Virgin River’s Robyn Carr — make waves here, the series also attracted a sizeable American audience after it made its stateside debut on The CW last fall.

Picking up right where the finale left off, this new season continues the journey of Boston-based neurosurgeon Maggie Sullivan (B.C.’s own Morgan Kohan), who was forced to return to her Nova Scotia hometown of Sullivan’s Crossing after a scandal compelled her to abandon a successful career in the big city. Back in Sullivan’s Crossing, Maggie reunited with her dad, Sully (Gilmore Girls alum Scott Patterson), and sparked a flirtation with his handsome assistant Cal (Chad Michael Murray of One Tree Hill fame).

Sullivan’s Crossing on CTV. Pictured: Frank Cranebear (Tom Jackson) is Sully’s right-hand man, usually found sitting on the porch.

According to showrunner and executive producer Roma Roth, a big part of the series’ appeal lies in its relatability. “I just think that a lot of people needed a show where you can connect and relate to the characters,” she explains. “It’s not too fantastical. It’s kind of a slice-of-life, fly-on-the-wall show about real people going through real struggles, but still having a community feel — which I think is missing in a lot of people’s lives today.”

When the second season begins, Roth promises viewers will see a show that’s firing on all cylinders. “We were finding our feet for the first few episodes of season one,” she says. “I think they turned out really well, but from a tonal perspective, we really hit our stride when we got to episode five and on. Season two continues that. We really got our confidence, understood where we were going with the characters — and you know, they become family members when you’re writing them. You really get to know them. You feel like you know their thought processes as you move along through the season. Initially, when you’re putting pen to paper, it’s like a pencil outline of a character, and as you’re going and creating story and building backstory, you start to fill in the colour and three-dimensional-ness of those characters.”

As viewers will recall, year one ended on a huge cliffhanger, with Maggie delaying her plans to return to Boston upon learning that her dad suffered a stroke, while also discovering that she was pregnant.

Sullivan’s Crossing on CTV. Pictured: Chad Michael Murray as Cal Jones and Scott Patterson as Harry “Sully” Sullivan.

“Well, I would just say tune in to season two to find out the answer to that question!” Roth says with a laugh. “But at the end of the day, there’s obviously going to be conflict and internal struggle — and being happy. But also, how does this pregnancy affect her career and everything else that would be affected in the real world with somebody who finds out they’re pregnant unexpectedly? I think Maggie’s journey really is a good example of the struggle that any career woman in society has to go through, myself included, where you have things that you want to do but you also want to have kids. How do you reconcile those two things — being a mother vs. being a successful neurosurgeon?”

“The slogan that we came up with [for the show overall] was, ‘The longest road that you’ll ever have to travel is from your head to your heart,’ ” the creator continues. “Everybody in the world has to figure out what you want vs. what’s good for you.”

Roth is understandably proud of what Sullivan’s Crossing has accomplished, but is especially gratified that a series unabashedly set in Canada has been so thoroughly embraced on both sides of the border. “We’ve focused a lot on procedurals in Canada,” she says. “CTV took a little bit of a risk [in doing a serialized drama]. But the goal was to show that you could take a show like this, set it in a Canadian setting as Canada — particularly Nova Scotia, because it’s such an epically beautiful province, where the location is one of the characters — and prove that you could be a success across borders, not just in Canada. Which I think we have proven, based on the numbers.”

Sullivan’s Crossing, airing on Sunday, April 12 on CTV

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