Left to right, Elle Graham, Kyliegh Curran and Preston Oliver can now be seen in Season 2 of "Secrets of Sulphur Springs." Photo courtesy of Disney
NEW YORK, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Kyliegh Curran says her character Harper solves some of her own family mysteries in Season 2 of Disney's Louisiana-set, time-travel and haunted-hotel series, Secrets of Sulphur Springs.
"Harper's journey is a lot of back and forthing through time and a lot of digging her family roots out," Curran told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.
"It's kind of unknown, her backstory, because of her father [who died when she was little.] Going back in time, she figures out what happened to her family and the Tremont and the actual haunting of it. That ends up fixing a lot of broken bonds."
The show begins with middle-school student Griffin (Preston Oliver) moving with his family into the dilapidated Tremont Hotel, which happens to have a resident ghost and a secret portal to the past in the basement.
Harper, who is obsessed with the history of the building, befriends Griffin and together they explore the inn, find the portal and travel to 1990 where they meet their own parents as kids, as well as Savannah (Elle Graham,) a missing girl whom their town believes is dead. By the end of Season 1, Griffin and Harper realize Savannah is very much alive; she just relocated to the 1960s.
Season 2 follows Griffin and Harper as they travel to 1930 where Harper meets her great-grandmother after Savannah finds old photos of Harper's family.
Although time-travel is loads of fun for the characters, Curran said it is also dangerous since there is the chance they could get trapped forever in the wrong decade and never see their loved ones again.
"There's the issue of maybe changing the timeline and preventing some huge event or even your own birth," Curran said. "There are also the rules of the era and being a person of color and dealing with all that jazz, so there are a lot of risks for Harper and Griffin traveling back in time. They are always on their toes."
In Season 1, Harper unsuccessfully goes back in time and tries to prevent her father's death in a car accident. She also sees what a mean girl her mother was when she was younger. Both experiences shape who she becomes going forward.
"She never really got to be with her dad that long, so I think it was good that she got to know her dad even more and got to see him again and figure out more about his family, so she is more connected to him," Curran said.
"But also if I found out [in real life] my mom was a hardcore bully in the 1980s, I would have cried," Curran joked. "It makes her feel closer to her, in a way. Finding out how your parents were at your age is a big connecting thing."
Friendship is also a major theme in the show, with Griffin, Harper and Savannah going to extraordinary lengths to protect one another.
"They are solving all the mysteries together and they don't move on without each other," Oliver said. "This season, Harper gets stuck in a whole other time and Griffin is trying his very hardest to get her back. He freaks out. He stands up for her. He will do anything to get her back."
"Season 1, they all are left terrified and pretty confused, and, in Season 2, they are getting through that confusion and figuring out things," Graham added.
"Savannah finds a way to communicate and keep friendship with others she's not in the same time era with at all. She finds ways to help them out when she is in the 1960s while they are in the 1930s and 2000s, and she makes new friends along the way, as well."
Showrunner Charles Pratt Jr. and creator/executive producer Tracey Thomson said the series is intended to be a mystery/thriller -- with hints of Back to the Future and Goonies -- that parents and children can enjoy together.
"It's a family show, not a kids' show and that wasn't really Disney Channel's thing. We had to do a little persuading," Pratt Jr. said.
"We were not going to make these typical Disney parents. We wanted to give them full-rounded lives and they became very interesting, especially since we were seeing their kid selves in the past. That gave us a key and a window to explore."
"The biggest compliment anyone can give us is that adults enjoy the show," Thomson said.
"When we wrote it, [network executives] were saying, 'Are the kids going to be interested in the parents' storylines?' And, as Chuck said, when they are meeting their parents in the past, yes, they will be and you tie everything to a mystery and it makes them want to watch."
The team also didn't want to shy away from showing the risks a contemporary Black girl would be taking by visiting a time when customs, laws and some people were hostile to people of color.
"It was important to all of us to let Harper tell the story to inform kids about the difference between time periods as to what life was like back then and have Griffin face the realities along with Harper," Thomson said.
"It's more obvious to Harper. Where she knows what she is going to encounter when she goes back, Griffin almost doesn't seem to realize that is going to be so much in their faces. For all of us, it was important to not ignore that aspect of history and sugarcoat it in any way."
Co-starring Kelly Frye, Diandra Lyle and Josh Braaten, Season 2 of Secrets of Sulphur Springs debuts with two back-to-back episodes on the Disney Channel Friday. The entire second season will be available on Disney+ next Wednesday.