At the Television Critic's Summer Press Tour, Future Man executive producers Seth Rogen, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, showrunner Ben Karlin, and their cast talked about what inspired the raunchy, geeky comedy that drops all its episodes November 14 on Hulu.
The single-camera sitcom stars Josh Hutcherson as 20-something janitor and video-game obsessive Josh Futterman. Intent on beating an "unbeatable" first-person shooter, Futterman ends up doing the impossible as his win summons the two heroes of the game, Wolf (Derek Wilson) and Tiger (Eliza Coupe), into our reality. Turns out the pair have a specific mission to recruit their "savior" into changing time so that the future isn't the wasteland featured in the game.
From the start Rogen admits the series is a mix of all the things he and his producing partners loved as kids, from The Last Starfighter to Terminator 2 to Quantum Leap.
"It’s inspired by a lot of the science fiction movies that we grew up on, pretty much any science fiction movie from the last 35 years, roughly, influenced the show. But more than anything, it’s a journey of a guy going from a janitor to potentially the savior of mankind, and the story of two future warriors slowly humanizing in our world, which is a weird thing to say out loud," he laughs. "But that’s the emotional core of the show, and all these science fiction ideas are the plot of the show. But it was important for us to have a show that had a lot of plot to it because, to us, the idea of a half-hour comedy that was incredibly plot-driven was a unique opportunity in what can only be described as a crowded marketplace."
And Rogen warns that calling out those seminal films will be a part of the series.
"We very much want the show to exist in a world where all those movies are real. And in a way, Josh’s unique power is the knowledge of those movies and how that knowledge may influence your decision-making when put in actual situations that reflect those movies."
However, despite the '80s-friendly references, the series is very much a Rogen/Evan Goldberg hard-R comedy. They step over many lines, even in the pilot.
"We want to be inclusive with our material, not exclusive," says Rogen, defending their tone. "We don’t want something that makes you not like us. We want something that makes you like it. We make things that make you question why you’re liking it and make you surprised at yourself that you are actually liking this thing, which maybe someone told you, 'That probably is not the kind of thing I would like.' But to us, that’s a lot of the challenge and the fun. And that expression is bringing people into your perspective in a way that is inclusive and not alienating ... hopefully."