Lucy Hale Looks Back on Katy Keene's First Season, a Stylish Love Letter to the New York City of Our Dreams

Lucy Hale

Katy Keene really did come along at the perfect time.

As a jaded New Yorker, I initially scoffed at the Riverdale spinoff’s dreamy, anything-is-possible depiction of the Big Apple, forgetting that I myself once shared Katy’s plucky optimism — albeit accompanied by a far less impressive wardrobe. From its very first episode, set to the thumping bass of Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York,” the CW drama has remained unapologetically hopeful, a welcome escape from the realities of, well, reality.

That relentless positivity became even more important in March, midway through the airing of Season 1, when the coronavirus pandemic forced the real New York to completely shut down. Suddenly, Katy Keene wasn’t just a quirky drama about comic book characters pursuing their dreams — it was a window into the world we once knew.

From casual conversations between friends (and frenemies) on crowded streets, to glittery drag shows performed under the bright spotlights of a neighborhood gay bar, Katy Keene kept the spirit of New York City alive. Heck, we even got an episode about the Met Gala on April 30, just four days before the actual Met Gala — which was canceled this year due to COVID-19 — was originally set to take place. There are coincidences, and then there’s that.

With Katy Keene‘s first season finale airing tonight (The CW, 8/7c), star Lucy Hale spoke with TVLine about the joys of filming in New York, the honor of tackling iconic musical numbers and the “endless” possibilities for her character in potential future seasons:

TVLINE | There are some big moments for Katy in this finale. Without giving too much away, let’s start with her performance of “She Used to Be Mine.” I recognized it as soon as the first few piano notes came in, and I got so excited. How did that even come about?
I, along with you, am obsessed with Waitress. I got to see the original cast on Broadway, and I love Sara Bareilles. I think she’s a gift to humans, she’s just incredible. And I’ve always loved that song. The writers and producers coincidentally didn’t know that, so when I read it in the script, I was like, “You’ve got to be freaking kidding me! I get to sing this song?” I couldn’t believe it. And it’s wild how the lyrics fit completely with Katy’s storyline. I was really nervous at first, because it’s such a big song to tackle, but I was more excited than anything else. We’ve had a lot of Broadway legends on our show, and a lot of Broadway influences, so I kind of re-fell in love with musical theater living in New York and doing this show. I was very honored to sing this song.

TVLINE | Going into this first season, I didn’t realize how much Katy would be singing. This character really is the perfect mix of everything you love to do as a performer.
On the show, we’re more focused on Katy wanting to become a designer, but in the comics, she really does a little bit of everything — she acts, she sings, she dances. So that’s exciting for me, because the possibilities are endless. They really trust me… but hopefully not with dancing. [Laughs] That’s not really my forte. But I’m glad that I’ve gotten to sing a little bit, because music is a huge part of my life.

TVLINE | At this point, I’ve realized that being a double threat is a prerequisite to join the Archie-verse.
That is true. I was watching the music video they made for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and I was like, “What is going on? This is incredible!” Luke [Cook], who plays the Devil on Sabrina and plays Guy on Katy Keene, sort of gave me the rundown of how music fits into that show, which is wild. And people love those Riverdale musical episodes.

TVLINE | There are a lot to pick from, but I’m pretty sure “Dirrty” is my favorite Katy Keene number.
I mean, can you even?

TVLINE | That had to have been wild to shoot.
Michael Grassi, our showrunner and executive producer, always wanted to have that song in a show he was a part of. It’s such an iconic Christina [Aguilera] song. I remember the first time I heard it. And everybody knows the music video. I’ll admit, I felt a little ridiculous when we filmed it, but then I saw it, and I really feel like it was seamless, like we were just four friends singing in their apartment. We had a blast with all of the musical numbers. We have a choreographer, Kelly, who makes sure that we don’t look too ridiculous. And I love everyone in the cast. I’m obsessed with them. So we always have a blast.

TVLINE | I know you have a pretty pivotal scene in the finale that you filmed at Grand Central. Knowing what that place is like, you must have had to shoot that at some crazy hour, no? 
It was wild. And I had never been to Grand Central Station before, so that was incredible in itself. It was also the last scene I shot from the season. And we shot it on the day the show premiered, so it was a big day. It was well after midnight, but there were still people coming and going. As you know, people in New York don’t tend to wear a lot of color, but there’s Katy running around in her little pink feather boa dress. So you can imagine the looks I was getting. There was some hollering, there was a little bit of “What the F is that girl doing?” But it was cool that we got to film with actual people there. That made it feel alive and real. Getting to film at Grand Central was definitely one of those “pinch me” moments.

Your thoughts on Katy Keene‘s freshman outing? Drop ’em in a comment below.