One of the best Star Wars shows is ending its second season this week. A show filled with heart, passion, and incredible stories that illustrate why the franchise means so much to so many. A show made by Star Wars fans, for Star Wars fans, aiming to gives us the kind of feels the franchise has been delivering since 1977. Oh, and The Mandalorian ended this week too.
The show we’re talking about is Our Star Wars Stories, a Lucasfilm-produced YouTube show. Host Jordan Hembrough (Toy Hunter) travels across the country talking to fans about how Star Wars changed their lives or helped them in some way. The result is a truly touching, inspiring series that will not just reinforce your love of Star Wars, it’ll enhance it.
The show debuted in 2018 and its second season, most of which was filmed virtually, ends today with its first international episode, which you can watch below. If you’re feeling a little Mando withdrawal, here’s the cure.
“What I love about Star Wars is...people can each take away something personal and make their own story,” Hembrough told io9 over the phone last week. “[For example], a lot of folks have come back from pain in their life or difficult circumstances in their life and used Star Wars as a coping mechanism, which I found fascinating. Everybody from Albin Johnson losing his daughter to Dale Hopkins, who is suffering from myeloma. Brandon Jackson used Star Wars as a coping mechanism for his PTSD. It’s incredible. Star Wars is sometimes the best medicine.”
The idea for the show came about when Hembrough and Mickey Capoferri, senior director of online content and programming at Lucasfilm, were trying to figure out a way to share the incredible stories they hear while working for and with the company.
“Lucasfilm [employees are] very lucky because people come to us and they bare their soul,” Hembrough said, “They tell us their very personal story about how Star Wars changed their life, and we’re very lucky to be witness to these stories. So we wanted to share these with the rest of the world and tell people, ‘Look, if you love Star Wars and it impacted your life, you’re not alone.’”
That was how the team cast the first season, just through people at Lucasfilm having heard so many incredible stories over the years and getting in contact with those people. Then it snowballed.
“People who were in season two were actually friends of some of the people that were in season one,” Hembrough said. “We found them from the people in season one saying ‘You’ve got to talk to my friend. He has an incredible story.’ And that just strengthens the sense of community. It goes beyond fandom. It shows this is actually a community of people that really care about and love each other.”
The first season was only five episodes; the expanded season two was already three episodes into production when the covid-19 pandemic hit. Undeterred, Lucasfilm put together production kits including laptops, cameras, iPhones, and more and sent them to subjects to keep everything moving. The process went flawlessly and the show actually wound up changing a bit as a result.
“What we lost in the personal interaction, I think we I think we made up for in the stories,” Hembrough said. “It made us dig deeper and tell the stories more true to life.”
When asked about a moment that was really special to him, Hembrough cites the second season example of film student Zoe Hinton. “There was a moment during the interview where she’s crying because of the love of her father. And it’s so emotional,” he said. “And we hear off-camera in the other room, we hear someone else crying. And it was her father. He was crying, too. He was watching the interview. So we called him in. I stopped the interview. I said, ‘Come on, give her a hug.’ And we actually got it on film.” You can watch the moment toward the end of the episode below.
Another example of a unique, fascinating connection is that of Justice Schiappa. Schiappa first saw became aware of Star Wars by watching a used VHS tape of The Phantom Menace. They instantly felt a connection to Padme Amidala, especially her clothes, and that eventually lead to a passion for game design. “These stories really cut really to the heart of who [these people] are and their lives,” Hembrough said.
And so today brings the 12th and final episode of season two, right at a time when so many of us could use something nice, sweet, and uplifting to watch. Hembrough hopes a season three could happen, though it hasn’t been confirmed yet, and says anyone who thinks they have a story worth telling should reach out to him on social media.
Ultimately, Our Star Wars Stories is truly the best of Star Wars. We may not find out what happens next with Rey or where Yoda comes from, but this series offers a positive, life-affirming look at the stories so many of us love, through a wonderfully diverse and inclusive set of eyes. It may not have the production budget of The Mandalorian, but for Star Wars fans looking for what’s good about the franchise, it hits that same sweet spot.
For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.