Inside For Life’s Post-Prison Second Season

By Zach Johnson

In the highly anticipated second season of the hit ABC drama For Life (returning Wednesday, November 18, at 10 p.m. ET), wrongfully convicted inmate turned lawyer Aaron Wallace will finally become a free man. But will he ever truly be free? After spending nearly 10 years behind bars, he will experience the “worst of the worst,” warns series executive producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. “The trauma from that can be like a soldier reentering society after war.”

Indeed, this season of For Life, inspired by executive producer Isaac Jackson Wright Jr.’s own journey, won’t shy away from the harsh realities Aaron is about to face. “There is the weight of everything he went through last season with the added responsibility of who he is now as a husband and a father,” says Nicholas Pinnock, who plays Aaron and also serves as a producer on the series. “There are certain prison aspects of Aaron that are still with him now that he’s on the outside. He’s not just a free man going straight back into regular, everyday societal life. He’s having to adapt. That adaptation brings with it a weight of its own.” Complicating matters: Aaron will be re-entering society in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. “He’s constantly having to navigate himself through those journeys, everything he does on the outside. How is he feeling? How is he navigating?” asks Pinnock. “He’s constantly thinking about these things.”

For Life

Creator and executive producer Hank Steinberg believes “the events of the summer” pushed For Life “even more into the zeitgeist,” resulting in “exciting, challenging and daunting” storytelling. “We feel like we have a lot of responsibility,” Steinberg adds, “but we also have a huge opportunity.”

By dealing with sensitive subject matter head on, the cast and creatives hope For Life will open a constructive dialogue. Says Indira Varma, who plays Safiya Masry, “I think life is complicated and one of the exciting things about this show is that it’s not black and white.”

For Life

Without spoiling anything, what other topics will For Life explore? “What you saw in season one—what you gravitated toward, what you fell in love with, what you identified with, what you connected to—is all going to be there and them some. I mean, I loved season one; I just think season two is going to be better… If the audience can understand it in the way that we’ve depicted it, if they can get an essence of how we felt doing it and what it really means to us, then absolutely it will be a stronger season than season one. And season one was already strong,” says Pinnock, adding, “When I read the first episode for season two, it didn’t feel like it was a hangover from season one. It felt like its own show, immediately. And for me, that’s what a season two pilot needs to feel like… It feels like it’s on its own track, not [like] season one is a train and then season two follows it. No! Season one is on one track and season two is on another, and I think that is what’s going to make it so strong.”