Joy’s storyline is front and center on Good Witch Season 7.
Whether she’s opening her heart to love, becoming more integral to her new community, supporting her Merriwick cousins, or helping her friends with renovations, Joy’s life is growing.
We caught up with Katherine Barrell to talk about all of it.
You’ve been getting a lot more material on Good Witch this season.
Yeah, it’s been great. It’s been really nice to see Joy’s storyline continue and find out more about her, especially about her past, which is coming up in this next episode.
What’s your favorite part of her journey so far?
I think her finding her father is obviously huge for her. And because of the circumstances of how he left, which we’ll learn more about, she felt really alone for a really long time. And when she lost her mom, she was a bit of a lone wolf and kind of traveled city to city and would fix up these houses and then moved on and never really settled.
And her choice to stay in Middleton is really a choice to embrace being in one place and surrendering and being vulnerable to loving people and getting her family back, and starting to find romance again.
I think just seeing her heal in that way has been really a wonderful part of her journey, and reconnecting with her father, who she never really knew what happened with him, is a huge part of that healing and the fact that he can tell her a lot more about why he left and explain all these unanswered questions provides a lot of healing for her.
So it’s been one of the nicest things to play on the show.
With what she’s learned, it was a defining experience for her — her father leaving and then her mother’s death. How did you think this is going to shape her going forward?
I think that it’s definitely going to take her a long time to process. I don’t think something as big as this that has really been so central to her whole identity in her life is going to go away overnight. But I think now that the healing can begin, it’s going to be really amazing to watch her let her guard down even more.
We started to see it when she chose to stay in Middleton with her family. And then we’ve seen it more when she’s now starting to date Zoe, little by little. Her dad coming back was a big piece of the puzzle where it’s just like the wall is coming down, brick by brick.
We’ll just see more vulnerability from her, more willingness to put her heart on the line because she’s not as afraid as she used to be about being left behind or being hurt because I think she had feelings of being abandoned.
Yeah. For good reason.
Yeah. For good reason, for sure.
And that also means that the mystery of the season, which started during Good Witch Season 6, about the purple pouches just tied directly to Joy.
Yeah, it very much did.
So, what’s that like?
I mean, it’s awesome. It really feels like Joy is very integral to the Merriwick trio. It’s really been lovely to play all those scenes with Sarah Power and Catherine Bell, and it makes Joy feel like she was meant to be there all along. It’s lovely as an actor, too, because my journey on the show has followed a similar path.
I’ve always felt so welcome on the show, and it feels like you’ve been here for so much longer than you have. And I take that as such a great compliment.
I think this season with Joy very much feels like a trio of Merriwicks, and the three of them really have to work together to solve this mystery and this ticking time bomb that we’re starting to become more aware of that there are some real threats and some very real danger that’s coming upon their family.
And it’s really going to take complementary skills of all three of them to get through it and make sure that it doesn’t destroy them. So joy being such an integral part of that has been really wonderful.
The cousins talked about their first realization that they had something special. Did you have any input into how you thought their first intuitions were exposed? Or does it just come directly to you from the writers?
Oh, it came directly to us from the writers. Yeah, those were all details that were revealed in the scripts, which were really interesting. But, as actors, we really didn’t know that that conversation was coming, and it was really interesting because we got to learn a little more about their past.
And I think they all have this common bond. So with anyone where you have any sort of unique ability or something that makes you different when you find people that share a similar path or similar experiences, it just brings you that much closer together.
And it bonds them even further when they’re able to share those intimate details, which they don’t talk about too much or at all with anyone else in their life.
They seem to be opening up a little bit about it, though, like how Martha always uses them for their qualities, for sure.
Yeah. I think there’s this unspoken thing in Middleton where everyone knows that there’s something really special about the Merriwicks.
But, still, it’s not quite talked about, and people just sort of accept that we know that they may have some special skills, and everyone sort of just acknowledges it, but doesn’t; it’s not super out in the open.
And I think they have to come forward more and more with it throughout the season because they are really trying to protect their family and their legacy and this power that they have. And they know that if they don’t open up and start talking about it… That’s going to be really difficult to do.
Oh wow. That’s a nice tease. I was going to ask you to tease what’s coming for them. I know there’s a way Good Witch is written. You just said that you didn’t know that that reveal about their first intuition moment was coming, so it’s kind of a script-by-script basis.
It’s interesting how that might affect how you portray your characters. Is it different not to have a full picture and to learn it script-by-script?
Totally, totally. I mean, as an actor, you’re always like, “Oh, I want to know everything all at once,” but it’s very interesting to find it out as you go because it does change your perception a little bit, but it also just informs.
One of the things that I found really interesting about this season, and we’ll get into it a little bit more later on in the coming episodes, is that we start to see the differences in their powers of who’s good at what. Joy has very clearly got her dreams.
And that’s a really awesome element that has been really developed this season, but it’s a big part of what she does well. And Cassie has her thing. And Abigail has her thing.
And I really liked that we’re defining a little more clearly how they’re each different and what they each bring to the table. So we’re having them bond over their similarities, but each of them brings a different talent to the table.
And I think that it’s really wonderful that the writers did that because it makes them all have these complementary skills, and everyone’s skill is needed at different times. And I think that’s really cool and much more interesting than having them all be able to do all the same things. They really need each other.
Alright. And that also kind of makes your portrayal a little more fun because you could think that everything was already on the table. And if you’re all just the same, then there’s really nothing for the three of you to work off of.
Yeah, for sure. For sure. And I also think they’re discovering it too in developing and by talking to each other, figuring out how to further develop their own skills. So we have all these questions about can they improve? Can they get more powerful? Can the skills change? Can they discover skills they didn’t know they had?
So it’s all these interesting questions that started coming up about, “Well, if I can do this, can Abigail do that?” Or, what happens when we talked a little bit about the closer the challenge is to us personally, the harder it is for us to use our powers.
The more they affect us in a personal way, rather than it being objective, the more we struggle with tapping into this intuition or this power.
So I think we’re just really defining that and clarifying it a little bit more this season, which I find really exciting as an actor because you’ve got something concrete; otherwise, you’re sort of stabbing around in the dark, and you’re not a hundred percent sure if that’s true or accurate.
But when it becomes something that’s very overtly stated about the character, it becomes something a little more solid that you can grasp onto and search to really make some character choices around, which I find really, really interesting and fun.
Yeah. I think that’s really fun too. And it’s really making this season, which we’ve only had a handful of episodes so far, but it’s really shaping up to be a lot of fun to watch.
Oh, that’s great. Well, I’m really glad. I agree. I think this season has taken such an interesting direction, especially with its tone where we’re focusing a lot more on the magic, and we’re calling it magic, and we’re talking about powers.
I think that’s really exciting. And from the feedback I’ve been getting from our audience, it seems like people are really enjoying that element. It’s elevating the show, and we’re raising the stakes a lot, which is very exciting.
There’s a lot more danger, and the danger feels very real, and it feels like there are some genuine threats.
They always talk about how a ticking time bomb makes a really good story when you’re running out of time. It just makes everything that much more immediate and that much more exciting. And I think we’ve got a lot of that this season.
Yeah. It’s like they saw what happened with the Merriwick-Davenport curse and how it affected the storyline for Abigail and Donovan.
And they realized that they could capitalize on that with all three of you involved. So it’s far greater consequences.
Sure. Yeah. I never thought about it that way. But yeah, that definitely is a way to interpret it.
And then there’s also Joy’s love life. Obviously, you were Nicole Haught in Wynonna Earp, and you have a large following and a significant presence in the LGBTQ community.
How influential do you think that relationship with your audience was in where Joy finds herself this season with Zoe?
I think it’s a really awesome question that I’m really happy you asked about. I think it’s huge. I mean, when Hallmark approached me about playing the storyline, we had some really awesome and honest conversations, and it was very important to me that we were all on the same page about how this story was going to play out.
It was very important to all of us. And I have to give a huge amount of credit to my colleagues, especially our producers, our development executives at Hallmark. And, of course, our lead, Catherine Bell. Everyone really needed to be on the same page.
That was super important to me because I realized how powerful this type of storytelling is for people who don’t see themselves represented enough on TV. And when they do, perhaps it’s not done very well. And I have made a promise to this community that I would always fight to do representation well.
It’s incredibly important to me. And I’m really, really proud of what we’ve done on Good Witch this season. And I’m really grateful to the team behind Good Witch. So making this is very much a team sport. They were so open to having conversations with me about how we were going to tell the story.
It was very clear that it was never going to be a coming-out story. And there’s never going to be about Joy having a struggle with her identity of being a queer person.
It was just going to be that she was going to find this big girl and finally open up her heart to falling for someone again because she’s been so protected and kind of running away from settling down for so long.
And we were all very much on the same page for telling that type of story. And it’s been really, really wonderful so far. And I am really very proud, and my bar was very high for how we were going to do it.
And I just felt super supported by the whole team that we were all on the same page. And to your question, do I think my playing of Nicole Haught and my relationship with the fans?
I think there was a wonderful opportunity because of those things. And because that is the majority of the fan base that I have, it provided a wonderful opportunity for me to play another queer character.
If they knew that that’s where they were going when they cast me a couple of years ago, I’m not sure, but it was something that I know Hallmark wanted to do.
They wanted to increase and improve their representation of all sorts of diverse storytelling. And I think it was the perfect scenario and made a lot of sense. And once we all knew, we were really on the same page for how we wanted to do it and what was important to everyone.
I think it was just a wonderful decision, and I’m incredibly proud to be part of it.
Yeah. I would say that they didn’t necessarily even need to have that on their radar whenever they hired you because it just fell so beautifully into place.
She struggled with relationships. Even having that brief dalliance with Carter when she first arrived made it seem that way.
It’s about her being a lone wolf and not allowing herself to stay in one place long enough to get her heart broken. Whether it be for another family member to leave her or whether it could be a relationship not to work out.
So she was just one of those people that never settled, and whenever anything felt like it was getting serious, she would leave and move on. And that was her way of protecting herself from getting hurt again because she struggled with feeling kind of abandoned as a child. And I think that really transferred into her relationships as an adult.
And with Carter, as an actor, I never saw a romantic connection. I think that’s something that maybe our audience picked up on a little bit because we do focus on a lot of romance in Hallmark storytelling, which is what makes it so wonderful and what so many people are very attracted to.
But I really felt like the relationship with Joy and Carter was very platonic. They were business partners and very much, I think they were friends. I can see why people would have picked up on that, but I don’t think there was much connection between Joy and Carter romantically.
That’s not really what I thought of when I saw them together, but I understand how people could have assumed that for sure.
Well, as I said, it’s a good segue, having your presence and wanting to open up the Hallmark universe to represent these relationships. That’s kind of an honor for you.
I really appreciate that. Thank you. It’s definitely an honor. I think it’s an honor. It’s also really great. And by great, I mean a large responsibility that I take really seriously. And I’m very aware of how big of a responsibility this is. I know that there are people in the queer community who don’t feel like Hallmark has represented their stories.
And I hope that this is part of the process of the change that is happening. I know a lot of people from just the first reactions we’ve received online have been feeling incredibly positive, and they feel very seen and very respected.
I’m really proud of the way that Hallmark has talked about and promoted the Joy and Zoe storyline and celebrated, especially during Pride month, their budding romance. And it seems that people have really been feeling very seen and very respected.
That’s all I could ask for and what we’re pushing for. So I’m feeling really positive about the way it’s been going so far.
What do you like most about Joy’s connection with Zoe?
That’s a great question. What do I like best about Joy’s connection to Zoe? I like that it’s cautiously optimistic. I like that we are not rushing into something that seems so perfect.
And they’re so connected, and we have some really awesome storylines coming up between the two of them, where they each bring their struggles to the table.
And it just feels a lot more grounded and how things happen when we’re adults, and we start dating each other.
We come with our baggage, and we come with our insecurities and our broken hearts and our history, and the times we’ve been let down, and we have to work through that.
And we bring that to this other person. And I think at first you present your best self. And then, as you get a little further along, naturally, the things that you’re not so proud of or parts of yourself that you’re afraid of start to come out.
And I think we really have some opportunities to watch Joy and Zoe work through those things. It makes the relationship feel a lot more earned and real and grounded, which I really like.
And I think our audience will really appreciate it because it feels very genuine, and it’s not like a fairy tale. It feels like they worked on this, and they’re talking through things. And I think that’s really great to see.
If you could put your happy ending in Joy’s future that would rival Nicole’s from Wynonna Earp, what would it look like?
Oh my gosh. It’s such a big question because what an epic journey Nicole was on and what a beautiful final episode of season four that we had. I mean, the wedding was just so amazing and such a beautiful end of that chapter. And I think, oh my gosh, I don’t know.
I think it’s way too early to tell with Joy, but I think I want to see Joy, the word that comes to mind is settled. I want to see her feeling safe and that she can stop running when things get hard or when things get real.
And I think that’s Joy’s Achilles’ heel is when emotions get big and she feels like somebody has her heart in their hands, she gets scared. And I’m really hoping that in the future, I want to see her in a place where she’s not running away from that emotion anymore.
Kind of where she’s allowing it to envelop her instead of running from it.
Yeah. Just sinking into it and enjoying it a little bit more because I think it’s really still very, very scary for her. And we will see her continue to deal with that pattern that she’s just developed to protect herself over the years.
Yeah. So much is happening to her right now, but it would be strange if she didn’t have those thoughts.
Yeah, very good point. Very, very good point.
To find somebody new that she’s interested in and to have her father return. It seems almost overwhelming.
I think it’s very overwhelming for her. And then her family, going through, especially with Abigail and Cassie, going through this sort of very real threat, but they’re trying to wrap their heads around and figure out what is happening to their powers and their family legacy, essentially, is under threat.
It’s a lot. I think we really see Joy struggling trying to keep her head above the water. Like you said, with all these new things, some are very exciting and wonderful, but it’s still hard because it’s a lot of change, and she’s got to lean in, and I think it’s very scary for her.
Do you have any idea which episodes are coming up that are Joy-centric and that we would look forward to?
Ooh, that’s a really good question. It’s funny because when we block shoot, we’re shooting multiple episodes at the same time, so it’s hard for me to remember which things happen in which episodes.
But I would say actually more so as the season goes on, we start to see a lot more episodes with the three Merriwicks at the center, very much working together to figure out what the threat is, what the danger is, this impending danger that they’re sensing that they need protection from.
And actually, I do find as the season goes on, we see more and more of them as a trio, as opposed to three separate storylines, which I really like. And I had such a great time shooting all that stuff with Catherine and Sarah.
I really do feel like we had more scenes together than we ever have, but I really loved that about this season is that you see the family dynamic.
I would almost say more so as the season goes on, we see the three of them together a lot more, which is really wonderful.
Well, I kind of knew that was coming just from the season’s artwork. I loved having the three of you sharing the spotlight. It was nice.
Yeah, it is. It’s been so wonderful, and I’ve just felt so welcome and that the creators have just really embraced Joy and her storyline.
And trios, there’s something super fun about a trio, especially if the three powerful women who are all so different in their own ways, but I think share this common bond is this legacy. And I think there’s something really powerful about threes, and it’s been such a fun dynamic to play.
I would say that every show about so-called witches has featured three women who all bring something different to the table. So exactly what you just said.
Yeah, so, so true. And I think there is something about those three, the trio, something very powerful about that number. It feels I don’t know, magical in a way. It always does seem to be three. There’s something universal about three powers.
Good Witch airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on Hallmark Channel and you can watch Good Witch online here at TV Fanatic.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.