Janine Sherman Barrois Talks Keeping 'Kings Of Napa' Fans Guessing

‘Kings Of Napa’ Creator Janine Sherman Barrois Talks Extortionist’s Identity And More King Family Drama From Tonight’s Finale Episode!

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Tonight is the night! The finale episode of season 1 of ‘Kings Of Napa’ airs at 8/7 c on OWN.

Janine Sherman-Barrois, creator of Kings Of Napa

Source: Gloria Mesa / Courtesy

BOSSIP Sr. Content Director Janeé Bolden chopped it up with ‘Kings of Napa’ creator and showrunner Janine Sherman Barrois ahead of tonight’s season finale to talk about the anticipation around the unveiling of the extortionist and the excitement over a potential second season. Keep reading for the interview – we promise no spoilers!

Janeé Bolden: On social media there’s a ton of talk around the finale and Season 2, how does that feel?

Janine Sherman Barrois: I think people are really excited. If they found the show and they watched it, I think people love it and they’re starting to get in with the characters and they’re addicted with different characters. It’s a great feeling to see people get with Team August or Team Dana or they’re like “I love Bridgett!” People are all into Rose and Dana’s dynamic and the other women’s dynamic, Vanessa and her sister Melanie. People are saying the one liners of Aunt Yvette. I wanted to do a drama with humorous tones in it, I wanted it to feel aspirational. I love listening and seeing how Twitter reacts to it because they’re into it.

Janeé Bolden: Do you get a thrill out of keeping the fans guessing about the identity of the extortionist?

Janine Sherman Barrois: Yeah I do, (laughs), it’s really funny because I try to throw people the other way, like I’ll retweet, I think it should be somebody who you don’t expect and this is definitely going to be someone they’re not expecting. I’m definitely thrilled by people not guessing it. I did see one person hit it on the head of who it is.

Kings Of Napa episodic stills

Source: Courtesy OWN / Oprah Winfrey Network

Janeé Bolden: Did you not retweet or did you retweet?

Janine Sherman Barrois: I think I liked it. I don’t think I retweeted, I was like ooh she’s right on it. I’m super excited.

Janeé Bolden: Do you see Kings of Napa as a soap opera? I’ve seen it described that way.

Janine Sherman Barrois: I think it’s a drama that has soap elements, I was not shying away from the nighttime drama that has soapiness. I think it’s supposed to be campy and it’s supposed to be grounded in the realness of the family but it’s also a little heightened. Whenever you have a family and they’re working on a business and there’s money, there’s this tendency for people to say oh it’s soapy but I don’t look at that like oh that’s pejorative. I think some of our best shows of memory have soap in them. That can be whether you’re looking at “Brothers and Sisters” or you’re looking at “Gossip Girl.” Soap is not a bad connotation.

JB: The King family has some serious boundary issues — there is not a family member that is not somewhat inappropriate. Are they inspired by people you know at all? How much fun is it having them throw everyday morals out the window?

JSB: I think people are complicated. I think people within families are complicated. I think if you go to any kind of family reunion or you go to a funeral or you go to a wedding, the drama and the soap of your family comes out. Somebody hates somebody else. Someone doesn’t like someone, someone knows a secret about someone. You could be drinking, having your grandmother’s 7 up cake in the back porch of a house in the middle of the South and you will find out all the dirt about your family.  That is really real and that is relatable. Oftentimes, family is not forced to be together all the time so we see that heightened drama only at those birthdays or funerals or whatever. In this dynamic, they’re all working together.

In this case I do think there are boundary issues, they have done some things to each other that is not necessarily forgivable but they are going to work through their problems and learn from them. That’s how they feel. Most families have these secrets that either hit the fan at someone point in your lifetime or they simmer and they break families apart. I think in this case you’re seeing a family where things simmered and now they’ve hit the fan and they’re being forced to deal with each other in these issues and it’s a lot. They’re a lot and they say things that are a lot to each other.  Some of them are quippy and funny, some hit you in the jugular, but I think families are more dramatic and messy than we give them credit for. I think most families are messy.

The thing about the messiness of families is you’re not supposed to talk about it. If you talk about the messiness too much someone in your family goes, ‘We don’t talk about that. You’re not supposed to say that.’ Well this family, they’re on TV and we’re dramatizing it and they need to talk about it.

JB: Dana is probably my favorite character but it’s close because Aunt Yvette has great zingers too — which is your favorite to write?

JSB: I’m just going to talk about the uniqueness of Dana’s character. He’s so fundamentally unique. I saw Rance Nix in a short at ABFF when I was doing press for “Claws” and I was screening a short of my own as well and when he came on the screen I was like ‘Oh my gosh.’ He blew me away. And I rewrote this part for him because I just thought he was so dynamic. 

This guy that has all of these power issues. He feels he is the best, he feels he is the smartest and the strongest. He’s funny with his tongue and he’s able to whip out the one-liners really fast and he says it like it is and he’s unapologetic for it. It’s not until the end of the season where him and Rose have their unpacking of this horrendous secret he has that you see this part of him sitting at his desk calling her desperately, realizing that the tough demeanor that he shows to everyone every single day is punctured.

I think he is utterly compelling. I put up a compilation of his one-liners and I get 50,000 hits on it.  People love him. I hope more people watch the show and find him because I think his character, especially for a Black person to be a well-dressed, intellectual, oldest of the family, Vineyard COO and be who he is, is just unique. He has so much swagger, he has so much style. He is so brilliant. He’s just a star and he jumps off the screen.

I think they are all so so so talented. I think everyone is unique in their own.  Eboneé who is just a force and a beast in her league, I’m not picking favorites. For a myriad of reasons Dana needs to exist on screen and I think this guy Rance Nix embodies that.

‘Kings of Napa’ airs at 8p EST /7p CST on OWN tonight. Will you be watching?

Who do YOU think the extortionist is?

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