Psychic powers only muddy the future in Rebecca Rittenhouse’s Hulu series ‘Maggie’
If you see your future, can you still change it?
That’s the question at the heart of “Maggie,” the Hulu series starring Rebecca Rittenhouse as the eponymous psychic, who sees flashes of people’s futures, often without context. But when Maggie gets two conflicting visions of her own future, her entire life gets thrown off track.
“It’s really easy to get bogged down in (your head): if you’re making the wrong decision or being with the wrong person or choosing the wrong job,” Rittenhouse, 33, said.
“But that stops you from living your life, and that is the worst mistake to make. I know I could learn from that message personally, and I don’t actually have psychic powers.”
For the California-raised Rittenhouse, “Maggie” is a titular role she couldn’t see coming after years building up her resume in shows like Hulu’s “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “The Mindy Project,” “The Red Band Society” and “Blood & Oil,” as well as playing Michelle Phillips, co-founder of The Mamas and The Papas, in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
But she and the rest of the cast stressed the show is about the ensemble: It’s the family and friends that keep the psychic in the present.
Maggie has strict rules to separate church and state: she won’t do readings for friends, and she won’t tell them what they see if she accidentally catches a glimpse. But when she sees herself in a vision — a wedding, at that — while working a party, her maybe future husband Ben (David Del Rio) becomes inextricably embedded in her world, along with his sister (Angelique Cabral) and her husband (Leonardo Nam) and, unfortunately, his girlfriend (Chloe Bridges).
But “Maggie” intentionally never crosses into soap opera territory; it stays on the right side of the messy rom-com line without getting too dramatic. Maggie’s people, including best friend Lou (Nichole Sakura), parents (Chris Elliot and Kerri Kenney-Silver) and physic mentor Angel (Ray Ford), don’t let her get too deep in the moping.
So instead, the show stays breezy, despite the love triangle.
“Not everything has to be so heavy and dramatic,” Cabral, who plays the slightly neurotic Amy. “This will be a breath of fresh air for people. Take it for what it is. We’re not trying to change the world. We’re just trying to have a nice, fun show.”
Elliot, who plays dad Jack, compared it with “Bewitched” or “I Dream of Jeannie,” sitcoms of old that starred superpowered women long before Elizabeth Olsen took over “WandaVision.”
“You get a really nice family story that doesn’t get you uptight or full of anxiety,” he said.
But Maggie’s psychic visions hang over everything, not full-fledged visions but flashes of moments like puzzle pieces she has to put together.
“As a parent, I feel like we often operate on a psychic fear, but it’s really more of a projection. If my student wakes up late for school, that means, of course, they’re going to end up incarcerated. If my son does not finish his vegetables, then, of course, he’s going to murder someone,” Kenney-Silver, who plays Maggie’s mom, said.
“Just calming down and going with the flow a little more and trusting that everything you do is going to equal some better future for yourself and your family is the way to go.”
That, of course, is easier said than done. It’s why Maggie tries so hard to avoid seeing the futures of her friends, because once you’ve seen it, how do you unsee it? How do you avoid tampering if it’s bad, or even if it’s good, directing the fates to their inevitable conclusions?
The trick is to “just be OK living in the present,” said Sakura, who plays Maggie’s best friend.
“I feel like that’s what we learn from seeing Maggie and all the problems she’s creating,” she said. “We all do that with our anxiety and all the stories we’re creating in our heads. I’m going to just live life for the now and deal with the future later.”