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'The Buccaneers' season finale: Josie Totah co-wrote coming-out scene for Mabel

"It came to my mind literally while we were eating salad," Totah revealed

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The first season of the Apple TV+ show The Buccaneers has concluded, with the finale featuring a particularly emotional scene between sisters Lizzy Elmsworth and Mabel Elmsworth, which actually came from actor Josie Totah.

In this scene, Mabel (Totah) has an honest coming-out conversation with her sister, played by Aubri Ibrag, telling her that she's attracted to women.

"This is how I am, this is how I've always been, underneath, but I don't want to be anymore. I feel broken," Mabel says.

"When we were little, the way you and others looked at boys and got butterflies, ... that's what's normal, but I never did. I had those feelings, I have those feelings about girls and I tried to be like you, but I'm just not."

Watch The Buccaneers on Apple TV+. Start watching with 7 days free, then $12.99 a month.

$13 at Apple TV+

As Totah explained to Yahoo Canada, the actor actually wrote that moment while in Scotland for The Buccaneers.

"That scene was really difficult because we're sort of walking this very thin line between it being a period drama, but us having some modernized elements and wanting to make it relatable," Totah said. "But also not wanting to disregard the period that it existed in and pay respect to the time that our show existed, which was one of no vernacular, no sort of vocabulary for that type of experience."

"We had gone back and forth, several times, me and the writers of wanting to make it right, and they were so open and willing, and communicative. One day, after we had just sort of gone back and forth a few times, I was having dinner with Mia [Threapleton], ... and we were talking about the scene, and I sort of just whipped out my computer and I ... opened final draft and I started writing the scene. It came to my mind literally while we were eating salad."

After that moment, Totah called the show's creactor, Katherine Jakeways.

"We always had a constant conversation running and I was like, 'I was journaling earlier today and I had some thoughts about the scene,'" Totah said. "Of course, my thoughts were like, exact dialogue, and then action and then the parenthetical, and she was like, 'Did you write this down?' And I was like, 'I did, but please tell me like to f —off or if that's wrong at all."

"It just kind of included probably some of my own authentic experiences in it and sure enough, the majority of what we talked about and what I ended up writing at that dinner ended up being on screen, which I think was just really cool. I think we all remember those scenes growing up that we watched that made us feel so validated and seen, and I really hope that this can be one of those scenes for other people."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 06: Josie Totah, Mia Threapleton, Kristine Frøseth, Imogen Waterhouse, Aubri Ibrag and Alisha Boe attend Apple TV+'s
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 06: Josie Totah, Mia Threapleton, Kristine Frøseth, Imogen Waterhouse, Aubri Ibrag and Alisha Boe attend Apple TV+'s "The Buccaneers" Photo Call at Park Lane Hotel on December 06, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)

While Jakeways, along with other producers, and directors, like Susanna White, worked to create a constructive space for the women on the show to explore emotional moments through this process, Mia Threapleton, who plays Honoria, felt like that was very much the case.

"It felt really good to know that if I had an idea, ... if we did want to talk about something, or we wanted to ask something, or if there was something that wasn't sitting right, or whatever it might be, if we wanted to we could have gone up and asked either Katherine or Beth [Willis] or Susanna [White], or [Joe Innes]," Threapleton said.

"They wouldn't have pushed that away, they would have taken it on board, and that was nice. It felt really nice to have such an open working environment where everything was very collaborative."

Mia Threapleton and Josie Totah in
Mia Threapleton and Josie Totah in "The Buccaneers," now streaming on Apple TV+.

'It felt very fulfilling to get to that point'

For the characters Honoria and Mabel, in particular, the big payoff in the final episode of the show's first season comes when Mabel tells Honoria that she's not marrying Miles (Shobhit Piasa), and they agree to figure out how to live their lives together, as a couple.

"Perhaps if we can be brave, we can make our own world, and maybe, maybe it'll be better," Mabel says. "They don't know who we are, the rest of them, but they don't need to because we do."

"We do. Do we?" Honoria responds. "We do."

It's a particularly impactful scene, specifically when for much of the season both of the women have had to hide their love for each other, especially Honoria who was very actively trying to push away her feelings for Mabel.

"It felt very fulfilling to get to that point, to have her say something like that," Threapleton said. "It felt like the journey was well and truly underway, because ... her journey is not necessarily a finished one."

"We're all learning who we are every day, but it felt really fulfilling to have her say something like that. It felt special and it felt like a realization for her that, 'OK this is who I am and this is who I love, and I'm OK. And this is going to be great.' So it felt really nice to do justice to that kind of a moment."

Watch The Buccaneers on Apple TV+. Start watching with 7 days free, then $12.99 a month.

$13 at Apple TV+

When it came to portraying these queer characters and their romance in The Buccaneers, as Totah explained, the writers were very intentional in having a sense of joy be central their story, while also staying in the reality of being queer in the 1800s.

"I think so much of our stories on TV and film are sort of dramatic ties in and traumatized, and of course those stories are very important to be told, but I think in conjunction with them we need to have these joyful ones that are happy and that are fun, and that are sexy and romantic and to get to play into all those levels, while still ... being authentic," Totah said.

"I mean, the queers on TikTok are loving it and that's what makes me happy. That's the court of public opinion that I care about."

Guy Remmers, Shobhit Piasa, Kristine Frøseth and Matthew Broome in
Guy Remmers, Shobhit Piasa, Kristine Frøseth and Matthew Broome in "The Buccaneers," now streaming on Apple TV+.

'It was very natural to find that vulnerability in men'

While Honoria and Mabel's story may have had a hopeful ending, the realities of the toxicity of the male-dominated world, with women having to stick within a box of what's considered appropriate behaviour, is very much a reality for Kristine Frøseth's character, Nan St. George, to end the season.

Nan has an important decision to make in the season finale, to decide whether she will marry Theo, Duke of Tintagel (Guy Remmers), following a whirlwind of will they-won't they moments with Guy Thwarte (Matthew Broome).

But when her sister Jinny (Imogen Waterhouse) tells Nan about the abuse she's endured by Lord James Seadown (Barney Fishwick), asking for help to protect both herself and her baby, Nan's decision becomes more critical.

While Nan successfully develops a plan that leaves Jinny escaping in a carriage with Guy, Nan realizes that she can provide more protection for her sister if she is married to Theo and becomes the Duchess of Tintagel. Even though she's in love with Guy.

But while The Buccaneers has quite a thoughtfully crafted ensemble of women, the series does find a great balance for its male characters as well. Many times, they're making choices we absolutely don't support, but the story still leaves space to expose their sensitivities.

"I think when you originally think of men in period dramas you think very stiff upper lip, don't you, but Katherine wrote such beautifully flawed characters and depth to them that it was very natural to find that vulnerability in men," Broome said.

"There was a line ... where Theo says, 'Obviously, the ladies aren't expected to chop wood, they're usually in the kitchen making treacle toffee pudding,' and I remember being like, 'Oh no why are you saying that?!'" Remmers added.

"The kind of gender splits and norms of work were quite different to how they are today and I hope they keep going in that direction. I think we've got a lot further to go, as we are now, but I think that shed a light on how we have come some of the way."

With all that drama and unique characters in The Buccaneers, we're just keeping our fingers crossed for a Season 2.