Up all Night

Up all Night

By Michael Pickard
July 11, 2024


Night Therapy writer Raanan Caspi talks about his decade-long journey to make his first television series, why it stands up as the next evolution of Israeli hit BeTipul (In Treatment) and why AI won’t replace screenwriters.

While simultaneously running a tech business, Raanan Caspi spent 10 years writing and pitching series ideas and scripts without a greenlight. That was until Yes Studios said yes to Night Therapy, his series about a grieving therapist who starts to meet his patients after dark.

“I was an actor 15 years ago. Unfortunately, or luckily for me, I’m not an actor anymore. I can’t take it,” he says, speaking at the Monte Carlo TV Festival. “So I went into high tech and business, and then I was writing for 10 years, just pitching show after show after show – and after 10 years, finally, someone said yes.


“Then everything happened so fast. In three years, we had a show and 10 episodes. It’s a very emotional, funny dramatic drama. It’s like a Cinderella story, for me at least.”

Launching last month on Israeli broadcaster Yes TV, Night Therapy follows Arab psychologist Louie Mansur, who is left to raise his two children on his own after the suicide of his wife, who had been struggling with a long battle against depression. When his son Amir is close to dropping out at school and daughter Nur develops abandonment issues, Louie finds he has no time to mourn as his family duties become all-consuming.

After another sleepless night, he decides to transfer all his clinic hours to the nighttime, accepting patients from dawn until dusk and leading him to meet a mixture of Tel Aviv’s nocturnal figures who attend his sessions.

If the premise carries echoes of Israeli phenomenon BeTipul (In Treatment), which debuted in 2005 and was remade in more than a dozen countries around the world, it’s no accident. Caspi admits he was inspired by the drama, but sought to make something that was “less traditional” with a more diverse cast than a typical therapist-centred show. He also wanted it to be “more sexy and more up to date,” building on his own experiences as a “night creature” working after dark.

Night Therapy is “the next evolution of BeTipul,” he says. “First of all, everything looks better at night, so everyone looks better. It’s quieter. And I know therapy. For a lot of years, I’ve been there. I’ve been in therapy. My wife is a therapist and she’s the main consultant [on the show].

“I wanted to give it a twist of the night because at night, you can talk things that you cannot talk in the morning, and it happens faster. At night you talk and you just go right to the point. And it’s a bit more sexy. It’s interesting.”

Night Therapy stars Yousef Sweid as a therapist who starts seeing his clients after dark

But the most striking way in which Night Therapy departs from BeTipul is that when Louie is listening to his patients, he is transported into flashbacks as viewers see him watching his patients in the moments they are discussing. It’s a style point that emerged from thinking about his own therapy sessions, and wondering how his therapist imagined the situations they were describing.

“I always wondered when I told him a story, ‘What is he imagining?’ because he imagined maybe something different from what I’m telling. So I said, ‘Hey, let’s infuse a Sherlock Holmes element into the therapy scene,’ and it helps us to make it more dynamic,” the writer explains, comparing the therapist’s role to that of a detective trying to get to the bottom of their patients’ dilemmas. “I think it’s surprising. It’s fresh and it works.”

Across the 10 episodes, there are four main patients who visit Louie, two per episode, while two episodes in particular break with the show’s main story arc. Caspi remains tight-lipped on what that entails.

The structure was part of the drama’s evolution, with Caspi spending 10 months writing the entire show once Night Therapy had been greenlit. That didn’t end his involvement, however, as he was across every aspect of casting, pre-production, filming and editing the show, which is produced by Yes TV and Eight Productions, with Yes Studios distributing.

Louie makes the unconventional move after becoming consumed with his own family issues

“I’m the showrunner of the show and I am a control freak,” he jokes. “I have to control every detail from the casting, the rehearsals… I was in every shoot all day, and I’m editing the show with the director.

“Because I’m a business owner and I know the value of money and the value of how much money is invested in you, I don’t know any other thing than to lead – the show or the business. For me, at the end of the day, it’s business. And you don’t leave anything to chance.”

Caspi believes he has invested 10,000 hours in writing across the past decade – something he calculated by asking artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT to evaluate his writing over that period. In fact, Caspi stands out among writers as someone who openly admits to using AI to support his writing, though purely for research purposes.

“My company worked with Google, so Google is like my second hand. Now, unfortunately for them, I use ChatGPT for research,” he says. “I do so much research and it’s like I have a company of researchers. It’s crazy. I train models to give me research in different countries, and it’s amazing.

Caspi believes Night Therapy is unlike anything else on television

“But [AI models] will compete with me. I think in two or three years, they will compete with screenwriters like me, but I’m not afraid. If you’re a good screenwriter, I don’t believe the machine can [compete with you], especially not in a TV series with all the little nuances. I can wake up in the middle of the night and write something on a text already sent to the actress, and still rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until they film it, so I don’t think [AI] will adjust. Maybe for Hollywood; not for me.”

When it came to casting the series, Raspi knew he wanted Yousef Sweid in the lead role – but he was also keen to elevate the series above commentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Louie’s wife in the series is Jewish-Israeli, while other cast members include Lucy Ayoub, Yaakov Zada-Daniel and Shira Haas, who won the Jury Special Prize in Monte Carlo for her role in the series.

“I said to Yousef, ‘Listen, I’m going to do a show and it’s going to be about you, but I’m not going to talk on the show about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Is that OK with you?’ He was like, ‘I was waiting for my whole life for someone to come and ask me to just play a show, without a race or something, just to be me,’” the writer recalls. “So the show is not about the conflict and it’s just about the person [Louie] and about people.”

Filming was carried out across 47 days, with 16 shooting days taking place at night. Many of the nighttime scenes were not only shot at night, but also during the day using a giant screen to replicate the evening sky in the early hours of the morning.

“It was challenging. My wife wanted to kill me, but the name says it all,” Caspi says. “Sorry, but you have to make sacrifices sometimes.”

Speaking ahead of the show’s launch, Caspi couldn’t predict how viewers would react to the show, but with plans for a second and third season already in mind, he hopes this “refreshing” take on a therapist drama will be embraced by the audience. He cites further inspirations as Atlanta, Barry and the warmth of Ted Lasso and This is Us. And in a world of police procedurals, he adds: “Sometimes I need a hug.”

“It’s my first show, and everyone told me to lower my expectations. But honestly, there isn’t a show like this in Israel – and I see a lot of TV. I don’t think there is a show like this out there.”

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