Kohan belongs to a family of creative heavies, including her father, Buz, an Emmy-winning comedy writer; her brother David, co-creator of "Will & Grace"; her husband, writer Christopher Noxon ("Rejuvenile: Kickball, Cartoons, Cupcakes, and the Reinvention of the American Grown-up"); and his sister Marti Noxon, formerly an executive producer on "Brothers & Sisters." Kohan's credits also include work on "Sex and the City" and "Will & Grace."
Nancy, however, will be called upon to make some tough moral decisions, Kohan said.
In an environment free of the typical social conventions of suburbia, Nancy has a chance to build a life on her own terms, Kohan said. According to Parker, the task is like breaking an addiction to her old environment. It requires her character to become more aware and more proactive than she's ever been.
Until this season, Parker said, Nancy has been "propelled from one thing to the next by the momentum of her depression and disassociation." But each season, as the tone has grown darker, her character has become less passive, she said. "Before she was kind of nowhere. Now she's at least in the present without a clear understanding of past or future."
This season Nancy will have a new boss, played by Demián Bichir, and a new love interest. Those close to the production would not say whether the sexy star's character turns out to be one and the same.
The complicated role of Nancy was always hard to pin down emotionally, Parker said. "She's pretty narcissistic. She relates to people based on what she needs from them." She has a dry wit but mostly laughs at others. And she behaves naively as if nothing could ever hurt her. "I can't relate to that," Parker said.
In shooting the new season, Parker said she's had to deal with Nancy's new voices. "It takes consideration to bring it together," said Parker, who had worked onstage and in movies before taking this role. One recent evening after a day of shooting, she said she realized she had put too much of herself into a big scene. She said she beseeched director (and co-executive producer) Craig Zisk to reshoot it the next day. Though television's quick pace typically precludes such reshoots, Parker said Zisk found the time. They were both happier with the result, she said.
That wasn't always the case in the early days when news spread about a rift between Parker and Kohan over creative issues. Parker said she's not really interested in "likability," a key issue for television executives.
"She'd never done television before," Kohan said. "There were characters and material she often found objectionable. TV is different from theater and movies. There's a different relationship between the writer and performer. We had to find common ground."
"It's impossible to work with someone every day and not disagree with them," Parker said. "I don't know if she [Kohan] has had a lot of people disagree with her."
Now, both said, they had put those conflicts behind them and have been able to develop a respect and an affection, even, though they might not ever be lunch buddies. Kohan said now when disagreements arise, they can talk about them or, if not, e-mail or communicate through Zisk.
"She's brilliant at what she does," Kohan said of Parker. "She breathed life into this character. We made our peace. We share the baby."
How long the on-screen drama in Ren Mar will last is anybody's guess. "We've mapped out at least two years here," Kohan said. "Who knows where life will go from here? To a certain extent, we reinvent the show every season. This is just a larger reinvention.
"I can't think too far ahead or my head will explode."