LOVE/Hate writer Stuart Carolan has revealed that producers of the RTE hit show never expected the outrage prompted by the shooting of a cat in the opening episode of the new series.
The broadcaster was forced to issue a statement making it clear that no animals had been hurt after welfare groups expressed outraged at the scene showing an Uzi-wielding teenager shooting a cat.
“We weren't expecting anything like this. We were naive, really,” said Carolan. “At the same time, I don't think many people are going to go out and start machine-gunning cats to death.”
The writer added that it wasn't the first time the show had run into trouble involving animals in the action.
“I always find it funny that when humans are killed there's no reaction, but you have a massive reaction to a swan being killed in another episode. Or in the second series, the reaction to Fran fighting pit bulls.
“There were no complaints over the violence, it was just about giving pit bulls a bad reputation.
“Fran is going to do more dog fighting this year, but we're going to use poodles rather than pitbulls,” he joked.
Carolan said this was the darkest season of the crime drama yet, and revealed that this darkness was losing the show some fans.
“I've read on Facebook some genuine fans saying, ‘This isn't for me this year',” he said. “We took a big risk killing off Darren. We left it in a serious place last year with Darren's death. We couldn't have opened this year like nothing happened, but you have to deal with the emotional consequences of what has happened, like Tommy's brain injury.
“I suppose what we all agreed we had to do was prune it back so the story could go forward again.
“We were never going to sit back and repeat the same stuff we did last year.”
The writer revealed how the tiger-kidnapping that featured in the opening episode last Sunday was “the first of a number of storylines” he and the producers were nervous about.
“It's not all dark, it ramps up in terms of pace and storylines, but there’s that adjustment needed and there will be plenty of surprises,” he said
At the centre of the action remains Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Nidge, who Carolan said was so convincing last season he even scared him.
“Tom did something so special filming the show this series that everybody stood and just clapped, the whole crew. I won't say what the scene was, it gave me goosebumps,” he said.
However, he again denied that Love/Hate glamorised its criminal characters.
“The sadness. The broken lives. I can't see how any of it could look glamorous,” he said.
“What I'm trying to get across is that there are all these levels in crime, and sometimes people at the bottom are victims too. You get some members of the same family can have lives that take a different direction.
“With 70 characters, you can show a multitude of things so it’s not just one mass of scumbags,” he said.