Future Man

Hulu presented a Future Man panel to the Television Critics Association with creator Seth Rogen, showrunner Ben Karlin, executive producers Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shafir, and cast members Josh Hutcherson (who is also an EP), Eliza Coupe and Derek Wilson. Hutcherson plays Josh, a janitor who wins a video game, which causes time travelers from the future, Tiger (Coupe) and Wolf (Wilson), to come to tell him the game was designed to find a savior for the future. Josh immediately calls out The Last Starfighter.

“Pretty much any science fiction movie from the last 35 years has influenced the show,” Rogen said. “Terminator 2, Back to the Future, there’s Children of Men in there, Quantum Leap. We very much want the show to exist in a world where all those movies are real, and how that knowledge might affect your decision making when you’re put in situations.”

Josh’s hero’s journey also pokes fun at the Joseph Campbell of it all. “We’re very much used to seeing the story of the chosen ones where they get selected and poured into this other world, The Matrix or Lord Of The Rings. They have to make this change from being feeble and wimpy to becoming an action hero. There are elements of that but it’s very much about maintaining who he is.”

Karlin added, “How else can we define heroism without that traditional journey of Luke becoming a Jedi? What other ways can someone become a hero? It’s not like at the end of the season he’s awesome at fighting.”

Future Man is a raunchy comedy in the Rogen/Evan Goldberg vein. Rogen wanted the show to have a complex plot too, which makes it good for binge watching.

“To us, the idea of a half hour comedy that was heavily plot driven was something unique in what can only be described as a crowded marketplace,” Rogen said. ”Again, we basically try to model the things we make off the things we ourselves enjoy ingesting. When something is plot driven, I personally like to watch it in big chunks. I like ingesting TV series that have cliffhanger episodes. It’s nice to have the next episode available. Who wants to wait? The world could end. The idea of having a serialized comedy that had a lot of plot and story to it coming out in one big chunk was an exciting prospect.”

The raunchy comedy has no limits on Hulu. However, the goal was not to be as shocking as possible and offend people.

“You don’t want to make something that’s alienating at the end of the day,” Rogen said. “We want to be inclusive with our material, not exclusive. We don’t want something that makes you not like us. We like things that make you question why you’re liking it. To us, that’s the challenge and the fun of it. That’s expression, bringing people int your perspective.”

No matter how raunchy, the creators are still conscious of quality. “A good joke is a good joke,” Karlin said. “There’s bad dirty jokes. We enjoyed trying to make good dirty jokes. Semen actually plays an instrumental narrative role in this show.”

Hutcherson was game for anything they threw at him. “I just wanted to dive in and see what they would come up with and make me do,” Hutcherson said. “I knew going into it I had to erase lines and hopefully follow good taste. We discuss that line.”

The late Glenne Headly plays Josh’s mother on Future Man and passed away during production. Karlin said the remaining scripts did not require much changing to accommodate the tragedy. What was difficult was going back to work while mourning.

“She was a big part of the show,” Karlin said. “She plays Josh’s mom. It was during a part of production where the show goes off in lots of different directions. We didn’t have to do that much rewriting because of the nature of where the plot was going. Because of the nature of the show and time travel, the way the parents came in and out of the storytelling didn’t require that much re-breaking. It was less of a production challenge and more of an emotional challenge. It was awful. We had to get up two days after it happened and keep making a show. It was harder from an emotional standpoint to go into work. We really didn’t have to do much rewriting. By that point in the season, the parents’ storyline receded and we’d moved on to other areas of the story.”

Future Man premieres November 14, 2017 with all 13 episodes on Hulu.

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