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There’s no getting away from it all in ‘The Resort’

Cristin Milioti and William Jackson Harper star as a couple who are drawn into a mystery in Peacock's "The Resort," premiering July 28.Peacock

In 2014, Andy Siara wrote a movie, a coming-of-age story about a young man named Sam flying with his parents and girlfriend to a resort. The plot also featured a couple, Emma and Noah, whose marriage was faltering.

“The script was not very good,” Siara says now.

Still, he felt a seed had been planted. He got married, had two children, became a writer for “Lodge 49″ and co-wrote the hit film “Palm Springs.” And still he couldn’t let go. Every year, he’d try again.

“‘I’d think, ‘Maybe it’s an hourlong drama or a sitcom,’ ” Siara says. “I was also always looking at it through the lens of what was going on in my life at the time.”


In 2020, as the world was slamming shut into lockdown, the story finally clicked into place.

“I was looking at the original through a nostalgic lens so I decided to split the two timelines, setting one back in 2007, and make it about being trapped in my nostalgic spiral,” he says.

Welcome to “The Resort.” The Peacock eight-episode limited series premiering July 28 stars Cristin Milioti and William Jackson Harper as Emma and Noah, the stagnant couple, whose lives, as “Fantasy Island’s” Mr. Roarke would caution, “are about to change.”

It also features Skyler Gisondo as Sam in the 2007 story line alongside Nina Bloomgarden, Nick Offerman, Dylan Baker, and Becky Ann Baker, with Luis Gerardo Méndez as a mysterious and possibly menacing figure who crosses between both timelines.

In 2007, Sam learns his girlfriend is cheating on him. At the resort on the Mayan Riviera he meets cute with Violet (Bloomgarden); both suddenly disappear right before a sudden and devastating storm wipes out their hotel, leaving an unidentified dead body in its wake and wiping out most evidence of what transpired.


When Emma, on vacation in 2022, accidentally crashes an ATV in the woods, she discovers Sam’s cellphone and latches onto investigating this strange saga as a way to rekindle the spark, any spark, in her life, even as she puts herself and Noah in danger.

And that’s all in the first two episodes. The series, which could be nicknamed “Only Murders in the White Lotus,” ricochets from romcom to drama to mystery to sci fi, with a heavy dose of old-fashioned action-adventure. (The first four episodes are directed by Ben Sinclair, star and co-creator of “High Maintenance.”)

“There are many elements, but at its core it’s about Emma looking backward because sometimes living in the present is depressing and disappointing, especially if you can’t see a future,” Siara says. He relied on a credo he shared with Max Barbakow, who co-wrote and directed their time-loop romance “Palm Springs,” about maintaining the poles of comedy and drama, which allowed them to explore everything in between. “We wanted to have one foot on a banana peel and another in the grave.”

Milioti jumped at the chance to play Emma after starring in “Palm Springs.” “Andy is a kindred spirit and I love the way his brain works,” she says, adding that she’s attracted to genre-busting projects with an off-kilter viewpoint. “I’m drawn to things that can’t be put in one category.”

Or, as Harper puts it, the script, “was just so weird.”

That for him was hugely appealing. “I’m drawn to weird stuff in general, and I couldn’t really read the tone whether it was a comedy or more of a mystery slash sci-fi thing. I thought, ‘I’m confused by this, let’s see what it does.’ ”


Harper, who is also still seeking parts that don’t replicate his terminally indecisive Chidi Anagonye from “The Good Place,” relished the chance to play Noah, who jumps on an ATV, dives fully clothed into a pool, and blunders into this mystery’s danger zone.

“It’s fun to do an old-school adventure that I would watch when I was a kid,” he says.

Milioti — who Harper describes as “a live wire, functioning at a high frequency without it ever being a put on” — loves toggling back and forth, playing a scene from a marriage, then doing a chase. “It keeps you limber,” she says. “You can never get too comfortable, and it pushes you to try different things as an actor.”

The actors had their own adventures, Harper says, battling bug swarms and sweltering heat in Puerto Rico, where they filmed. “Being out in the jungle when we were riding the ATVs was rough,” he says.

Even before that, they faced a serious challenge when Milioti was hit by COVID immediately upon her arrival. Her 12-day hotel quarantine meant rearranging the shoot and canceling all rehearsals, except for some Zoom chats with Harper “while I was sweating in a puddle on the floor,” she says.

Fortunately, she had a “great shorthand” with Siara and with Harper, whom she says “I felt safe with as an acting partner,” after they had costarred off Broadway in a play called “After the Blast.” “It was about a couple in marital distress,” Harper notes.


Siara consciously chose a cinematic style that hinted at classics — “Jaws,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” — without replicating anything directly. “I wanted there to be a comfort and familiarity,” he says, even for people who won’t pick up on exact references. (It’s not all Spielberg; Siara also looked to “Speed.”)

“But I’m never doing the exact same thing because the show is also about the curse of or danger to nostalgia,” he says. “If all you’re doing is redoing what you did before, you will get trapped in that and lose the ability to move forward.”


Starring: William Jackson Harper, Cristin Milioti, Nick Offerman, Nina Bloomgarden, Skyler Gisondo, Luis Gerardo Méndez, Dylan Baker, Becky Ann Baker. Streams July 28 on Peacock.