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'Trying' Season 4: Esther Smith, Rafe Spall navigate a six-year time jump in most charming show on Apple TV+

"It threw up a lot of challenges," Smith said

The Apple TV+ series Trying, starring real-life couple Esther Smith and Rafe Spall, continues to be one of the most charming shows to watch, even after making a bold move for Season 4 to move the timeline forward six years. While it's not something that always works for a series, this time jump allowed the show to feel fresh and explore new (often comedic) parenting adventures for Jason (Spall) and Nikki (Smith), but never losing the tenderness we've loved from the previous three seasons.

"I love that we've jumped ahead six years, just to see how these two people parent," Smith told Yahoo Canada. "Princess is now a teenager, she's 15, and Tyler is 11."

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"It threw up a lot of challenges, which I think was great for the story. Just to show that part of adoption as well, and that part of parenting."

"It's quite a rare device to jump forward six years and in a TV show, you don't see it that often," Spall added. "The opportunity to see this couple now being the parents of older kids presents all sorts of elements of both comedy and drama, which are really juicy to bite into as an actor."

Esther Smith, Rafe Spall and Cooper Turner in
Esther Smith, Rafe Spall and Cooper Turner in "Trying" Season 4, premiering May 22, 2024 on Apple TV+.

The Trying series began with couple Nikki and Jason working through fertility issues and navigating child adoption, including possible legal issues with Bev (Clare Higgins), the grandmother of their children Princess and Tyler (in Season 4 played by Scarlett Rayner and Cooper Turner).

Season 4 opens with a funeral. We won't spoil whose funeral it is, but we will tease that it's a starting point for Princess to ask questions about who her biological mother is, and the circumstances that led to her and her brother being adopted. With Princess hoping to set off on that journey without alarming her parents, particularly Nikki, paired with some teenage attitude, it creates a bit of tension between mother and daughter.

"My only experience of that is myself being the teenager to my mum and what that dynamic is like," Smith said.

"To play that out, particularly as Nikki, because she just wants the best for Princess and she has so much love in her, but also coming up against something that she just can't control, also with a teenager who is so headstrong. Reading those scenes I found [it] really heartbreaking. It's incredibly moving. It's just so fun to play as well."

Siân Brooke and Darren Boyd in
Siân Brooke and Darren Boyd in "Trying," now streaming on Apple TV+.

Aside from this core family, Nikki's sister Karen (Siân Brooke) and her husband Scott (Darren Boyd) continue to provide absolute hilarity to the season. In Season 4 Scott finds himself at a bit of a crossroads, paired with climate change concerns, which lead him to attempt an interesting goal that Karen isn't particularly supportive of.

"I love watching Karen and Scott and their dynamic, and ... Matilda [Flower] who plays Stevie, their little daughter, and seeing how they parent with each other, and the difference between Nikki and Jason, that family unit, and their family unit," Smith said.

"They're so funny and I find it so moving as well, because ... they express love through their actions, or their own individual personalities, and we're all so different. It's just such a lovely mix of dynamics."

"In terms of the ensemble, ... it's a real pack of aces," Spall highlighted.

"A character like Scott could potentially be quite broad and quite cartoonish, Darren Boyd does such a great job of making it real. ... That's really great writing and acting."

It's even more impressive to find that balance in the show with a new director, Ellie Heydon, taking over four seasons into the series.

Esther Smith and Rafe Spall in
Esther Smith and Rafe Spall in "Trying," now streaming on Apple TV+.

A highlight throughout Season 4 of Trying is that we get to dive deeper into the complexities of Nikki and Jason's relationship as a couple, not necessarily just in their roles as parents. That's particularly the case in Episode 2 of the season, with a guest star appearance by Oscar winner Jim Broadbent, where the couple have an unexpected date night.

"They come up against challenges, they don't potentially feel like they necessarily see each other, they mean different things in the house to each other now," Smith explained. "So to try and reconnect on that level, also as a reminder that the reason why their relationship has weathered various kind of storms, as it were, is because they've got such a brilliant sense of humour with each other."

"I think that's the thing that kind of underpins everything, they have such a love for each other."

"They're quite an aspirational couple, they always have fun and they always work it out, ... which is great," Spall said. "So far anyway, unless we break up if we do Season 5."

While a breakup is absolutely not what we want, we will tease that there's a significant cliffhanger at the end of Season 4, so we'll be keeping our fingers crossed for a Season 5 to come as soon as possible.

Season 4 of Trying returns to Apple TV+ on May 22 with the first two episodes, followed by new episodes every Wednesday through July 3