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'Astrid & Lilly' stars say teen monster-hunting show celebrates female friendship

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'Astrid & Lilly' stars say teen monster-hunting show celebrates female friendship
Samantha Aucoin (L) and Jana Morrison can now be seen in "Astrid & Lilly Save the World." Photo courtesy of Syfy

NEW YORK, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Samantha Aucoin and Jana Morrison say the real magic of their new supernatural dramedy, Astrid & Lilly Save the World, is the close relationship between its titular teen heroines.

"They have this beautiful, uplifting friendship that you don't really get to see in a lot of TV shows right now," Aucoin told UPI in a recent phone interview.

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"There's no toxicity between the two. They just really love each other, and they just want each other to do well. They are each other's rocks," she added. "I would have loved to have had this show in high school."

Debuting on Syfy on Wednesday, the series follows the girls as they inadvertently open a portal that allows monsters to rampage through their small town.

Together, they must figure out how to protect their families, neighbors and classmates, even the undeserving ones who cruelly refer to them as "Pudge Patrol" because of their curvy figures and love for amateur sleuthing. Guiding Astrid and Lilly on their new adventures is their mutant mentor, Brutus (Olivier Renaud).

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Morrison thinks young viewers will relate to and feel empowered by the show.

"They'll see their bestie and be like, 'Oh, my God! We can fight monsters, too!'" Morrison said in a separate interview with UPI. "Because anyone really can be a hero. You just have to step up and do it, even if, maybe, you have bullies you don't want to save."

The decision wasn't easy to help humans who hurt them, but, ultimately, Astrid and Lilly's moral compasses and kind hearts don't let them leave their tormentors to be devoured by creatures from another dimension.

"We didn't want to be the bullies ourselves. That doesn't serve us well," Morrison emphasized.

"Even though they bullied us, they don't deserve to die like that. We decide, 'You know what? Let's save them and they'll love us for it after.'"

"There is a part of them that is wise beyond their years when it comes to making the right decision and doing the right thing," Aucoin noted. "They have each other. I think it's easier to do the right thing with each other than to do the wrong thing."

For Astrid, high school is more frightening than the most dangerous creatures she and Lilly battle during their nightly patrols.

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"Dealing with people who don't think I'm special is really hard," Morrison said of her character.

"When people tell you not to be yourself, that is really hard, and to have another person really on my side, being my biggest cheerleader, was really important to me. But, monsters are really scary, too. They can literally kill you."

Confronting creatures you know want to harm you is sometimes easier than treacherous classmates who pretend to be your friends, and then betray you, Aucoin acknowledged.

"The real monsters in the show are the humans," she laughed.

"The real monsters are their internal demons. It's the internal conflicts in their relationships that are the real challenge for them. They are growing up and they're in high school - one of the most awkward phases of our lives - and they are going through this massive transition."

It was easy for Morrison to channel Astrid's cheerful optimism because it is a trait she also possesses in real life.

"I definitely connect to her confidence," Morrison said. "We definitely deal with things differently -- Jana and Astrid. She's more outspoken."

Aucoin was working at a childcare facility when she landed the role of Lilly. The actress believes her experience with the tremendous imaginations of tiny people helped her adapt to her strange new job, which relies heavily on her ability to pretend.

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"You definitely have to throw away your inhibitions," Aucoin said. "When I'm working with kids, that's exactly what you have to do to entertain them. It definitely helped push me out of my comfort zone."

Astrid & Lilly mixes genres, adding dashes of action and romance and touches of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias, Booksmart and Law & Order: SVU to the show's horror, drama and comedy.

Morrison likened the experience of making it to riding a roller coaster.

"Every day, we're dealing with something new, whether it is dealing with a new kind of romance and that's really scary and gives you butterflies, but then also dealing with ripping [a monster's] tongue out. It was really hard to manage," she said.

"Keeping a calm mind, and reassuring myself that this is where I am meant to be and I am doing the best I can, really got me through."

Aucoin credited the filmmakers and crew members with helping her and her co-stars remain grounded in the intense, human aspects of the story, so they didn't get lost amongst the fight sequences or special effects.

"Everyone just took those moments so seriously and they gave them the respect and attention they needed," Aucoin said.

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She added, "It was a definite challenge and a learning curve to be able to access those more challenging emotions after doing, maybe, a combat scene, but I feel like the atmosphere that the whole team created for us really made it as easy as possible to get to that place."

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