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INTERVIEW: Happyland‘s Ryan Rottman says there’s so much more to the show

In our exclusive interview, Happyland star Ryan Rottman teased the first season of the new series. Be ready for hookups, drama and a roller coaster ride of fun.

MTV’s new show is about a bunch of young people working at an amusement park and what goes on when the lights go out. As happy as the park is, there’s a lot more happening behind the scenes.

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“The theme of the show is kind of sex, drugs and roller coasters,” Rottman teased, adding that he and his fellow actors, and the creators of the show, interviewed actual theme park employees to get real stories of what it’s like behind all the fun.

“We interviewed a bunch of them, and it’s pretty interesting what happens behind closed doors,” Rottman said. “Some of the stories are just, out of this world. I’d say we got about 70 percent to 80 percent of the really good ones in there.”

Rottman plays Theodore Chandler on the show, a guy who has a lot to prove and may not immediately be liked by some fans.

“I kind of look at myself as the chess master,” Rottman said about playing Theodore. “I keep everyone together. I take my job very seriously. I look up to my father a lot, so I’m really trying to prove myself to him. The audience is going to kind of have a love/hate relationship with me, because I definitely come down on the staff and my brother, and I think they’re not going to like that very much.”

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But don’t worry, Theodore isn’t as bad as he seems at first. “As the season goes on, you’re going to understand why I do the things I do and that it is actually out of love and respect for my family,” Rottman promised.

Rottman and his character had a lot in common. Both of them held a lot of secrets. When filming began, the show’s creator, Ben Epstein, sat the actor down and told him a lot of what was going to happen throughout the first season. “I hold all the secrets,” Rottman said, adding that some of the cast tried to pry information out of him, but he never gave anything away.

It did allow him a unique insight into what was coming up for his character and the other characters on the show. “It gets pretty juicy,” Rottman shared.

“Episode 6 has a really good plot twist. The whole episode is pretty juicy. Around [Episodes 5 and 6] is when you really start seeing why [Theodore] is doing the things [he’s] doing,” Rottman said. “[Viewers will discover that Theodore is] actually kind of the good big brother and a good employee of Happyland. And all of the different twists and turns that [he’s] said and done start to make sense.”

If you’ve heard about MTV’s new series, chances are you’ve already heard about the little controversy that popped up when the show was screened for the press before a Q-and-A with the stars and creators. If you’d rather not be spoiled, you might want to stop reading now.

Just to be clear: Warning! Spoilers ahead!

Two of the characters find that they have feelings for each other, but just after they share their first kiss, they find out that they might actually be half-siblings. It’s a theme that won’t end with the first episode, Rottman promised. “Yeah, that definitely drives a lot of the season.”

But though the story line sounds heavy, Rottman said it’s something he thinks people can relate to. “I think everyone in their life has had someone in their life they really want to be with, but they can’t. So I think it’s really relatable.”

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But the show isn’t all seriousness. There’s a lot of joy happening behind the scenes, especially since they got to shoot at a real theme park one day. Rottman particularly had a great time watching one of his costars get terrified on a ride.

“I finished earlier than anyone else and actually stayed around to watch Shane [Harper], he plays my brother, ride the roller coaster. He’s deathly afraid of them; he hates roller coasters. They rode him to the top, and they held the roller coaster there to get two shots.”

And what did Rottman do while his costar was frightened for his life? Why, what any friend would do, of course. “I watched the monitors and took a bunch of photos and laughed my a** off watching him. That was one of the highlights of the season.”

It looks like fans will get the chance to see those pictures, so keep an eye out. “When the episode comes out, I’m going to put those photos out there, too. I gotta give him a little jab.”

Happyland premieres on Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 11/10c.

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