Diary of a Future President

How a “Summer Reset” Shakes Things Up in Season Two of the Disney+ Original Series Diary of a Future President

By Zach Johnson

Everything was going according to plan… until the “summer reset,” that is.

The second season of Diary of a Future President, streaming in its entirety on Disney+ starting Wednesday, August 18, finds Elena (Tess Romero) riding high after following a Senator’s advice last year. “She’s ready to take on the world,” Romero tells D23. “She thinks she’s got the student rep thing in the bag… and then she realizes that seventh grade isn’t exactly what she planned. She can’t just assume that whatever she thinks is going to happen is going to happen. In the first few episodes of the season, Elena gets knocked down a little bit. She gets thrown back into reality, which is a little rough on her. But she’s able to pick herself up and get back to it. There’s a lot of changes in her life in season two.”

According to showrunner Ilana Peña, it was important that Elena remember why she wants to be elected student representative in the first place. “At the end of season one, Elena’s like, ‘I can be a leader.’ And so many leaders, I think, stop there. They’re just like, ‘I want to be a leader.’ But it’s so not about you. It’s so much about who you’re representing, about the people who you’re lifting up. That’s why we wanted Elena to go through that journey.”

Diary of a Future President

After her BFF Sasha (Carmina Garay) gets a boyfriend and the lead role in the school musical, Elena begins to feel a little lost. Everyone and everything, it seems, has changed. “We love the idea of a ‘summer reset,’ because we [the writers] remembered how kids would come back after summer break totally different,” says Peña. “They’d be one of the Seven Dwarfs before and then Channing Tatum after. And we wanted to present that in an emotional way. For Elena, what does that look like for somebody who’s so sure of herself?”

The “summer reset” doesn’t just affect Elena, of course. Her brother, Bobby (Charlie Bushnell), is now in high school. But because freshmen aren’t allowed to join the tennis team, his friends pursue other interests—ones that don’t necessarily interest him. Meanwhile, Bobby is still harboring a secret crush on his best friend, Liam (Brandon Severs), unsure if the feelings are mutual. “For Bobby, you’ll get to see natural progression of his journey,” Peña tells D23. “We always knew that’s where we wanted him to go—not just in coming to terms with his sexuality, but in learning how to open up and learning how to use his voice.”

Diary of a Future President

According to Bushnell, Bobby’s journey mirrors Elena’s in that their expectations don’t necessarily reflect reality. “I don’t know how much I can say, but Liam is interested in someone else. Tennis is not really a part of his life, and his friends kind of split up a bit,” Bushnell says. “In the first half of the season, Bobby is just trying to find his way in high school. He’s still on this path of self-discovery, trying to figure out who he is. But then, in the latter half of the season, Bobby meets some new people and makes some new friends. He gets close to one in particular—and that opens him up to some cool new experiences.”

Back at home, Gabi (Selnis Leyva) makes a bold step in her relationship by inviting Sam (Michael Weaver) to move in with her and the kids. Although she second-guesses her decision, neither Elena nor Bobby does. “Right off the bat in season one, Bobby got along with Sam and welcomed him in,” recalls Bushnell. “He’s happy to have Sam around; he’s like the father figure that Bobby needs. They have some really nice moments this season.”

But Peña, who loosely based Diary of a Future President on her own adolescence, notes that blending families can sometimes be more complicated for adults. “It’s not always milk and honey,” she says. “It’s not always really rainbows and sunshine.” For a widow like Gabi, “It’s always related to grief. This is a woman who has been grieving her husband for three to four years. So, what does grief look like for her? Sometimes it looks like, ‘I miss this person.’ Sometimes it looks like, ‘My kids are pulling away from me.’ I think Gabi’s always going to be grieving, even though she loves Sam and she’s thrilled to have him in her life. Gabi is based on my mom, who is remarried and happy. It’s been 25 years and my mom is grieving every day, so I wanted to explore the journey of grief without making it a tragedy.”

Diary of a Future President

Leyva, for one, is impressed by how “heartfelt” and “realistic” Gabi’s arc is in season two. “There are moments where I teared up just reading the scripts, because I know how important it is to tell these different stories and to give people a chance to see themselves,” she tells D23. “As a mother to a young lady, I connect with Gabi and Elena’s relationship a little bit too much. It’s like a little parallel, creepy world that we’re living in! I started out season one being a single mother. I liked having my life in order, knowing exactly what I wanted to do, and being very much in control. Then someone came into my life at the same time that Sam came into Gabi’s life. Our lives are connected in many ways.”

Weaver, who has a 14-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter, adds that he’s continually impressed by the “authenticity” of each character’s experiences. “Some of the scripted conversations in the show are the same conversations I’ve had at home with my kids,” he says. “I can’t say enough about Ilana and the team of writers who developed these stories.”

Romero is excited for each story to unfold when season two debuts on Disney+. “There’s a lot of growth and change and new things happening,” she teases. “It’s touching and sweet.”