Ryan Rottman Previews MTV's Twisted New Dramedy Happyland

When describing MTV’s new amusement park-set dramedy Happyland, premiering Tuesday at 11/10c, star Ryan Rottman needs only five little words: “sex, drugs and roller coasters.”

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Of course, TVLine got a few more words than that out of Rottman, who plays Theodore Chandler, the straight-laced son of Happyland’s mysterious CEO. When he’s not making sure the park is running smoothly, Theodore is keeping an eye on his troublesome younger brother (Awkward‘s Shane Harper) and doing whatever he can to keep his family’s secrets — including those of a paternal nature — under lock and key.

“I like to think of him as the Chess Master, and everyone at the park is his pawns,” Rottman explains. “He knows a lot more than people think he does.”

Read on for our Q&A with Rottman, which includes his thoughts on Happyland‘s taboo twist…

TVLINE | First thing’s first: In my research, Google kept sending me to this other Happy Land show; it’s a Filipino children’s series about mice.
Seriously? That’s really weird.

TVLINE | This isn’t just an American remake of that is it?
It actually is. I play one of the mouse brothers.

TVLINE | Interesting. I also see that Happyland is on at 11, while most MTV shows are on at 10 or 10:30. Can you get away with more in a later time slot?
Yeah, it skews a little bit older than some other MTV shows, which is probably good. I call it “sex, drugs and roller coasters.” Isn’t that good? I just came up with it today.

Happyland Season 1

TVLINE | That is good. And it must have been fun getting to shoot at an actual amusement park.
It was so much fun. We shot our exteriors at Six Flags, and we got to walk around and see what things are really like behind the scenes. We also have a set in San Fernando, which we share with Awkward, where they built this huge main street for a theme park. It was like stepping into an actual theme park, and as an actor, that helped me tremendously.

TVLINE | Did you speak with actual amusement park workers, and were you disappointed that they weren’t as depraved as your characters?
[Laughs] Some of them actually were. We got to interview workers from different parks, and [creator Ben Epstein] interviewed a lot more on tape for us. They based a lot of the show on those interviews. It’s funny to think that when I was a kid, taking pictures with the people in costumes and stuff, there were probably people having sex in those outfits and smoking pot behind closed doors.

TVLINE | Well, I no longer trust anyone who works at amusement parks.
Yeah, the next time you go on a ride, you should probably ask the person working it to piss in a cup real quick.

TVLINE | Will do. … So, I’ve been thinking, this show almost sounds like Revenge, but at an amusement park.
Exactly. It’s fun to play the guy who’s privy to all these secrets.

TVLINE | And one of those secrets involves a potentially incestuous situation. [Spoiler alert: Two characters find out they might be related.] How much of the show revolves around that snag?
Here’s how I’ve been looking at it: It’s not something you see on TV a lot, or in everyday life, but people will still be able to relate to it. On our show, it’s more like falling in love with your best friend’s boyfriend or girlfriend, or like falling in love with someone older — just someone you can’t be with. You love this person, but it just can’t happen, so how do you deal with that on a daily basis when you’re around them all the time? That drives a lot of this first season.

Will you be checking out Happyland when it premieres tonight at 11 pm on MTV? Drop a comment with your thoughts on the new dramedy below.

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