Future Man, the sci-fi, time-traveling comedy coming to Hulu in November, is classic Seth Rogen. (He's an executive producer.) References to old school nerd movies? Check. An unequipped social misfit — in this case Josh Futterman (Josh Hutcherson), a janitor at an STD clinic — becomes a hero? Check. Borderline X-rated comedy that deals in tawdry puns and bodily fluids? Check, check and really big check with a protective glove.
Future Man follows Josh as he does the unthinkable — beat the unbeatable video game The Biotic Wars -- and is then visited by Tiger and Wolf (Eliza Coupe and Derek Wilson), fighters from the year 2062 who've come back to save mankind. As peak Rogen as Future Man sounds, it's got some surprises in store too. The cast answered questions about the show at the Television Critics Association summer press tour Thursday; here's what we learned.
1. Sperm plays an integral part in the story
Let's just get this out of the way: sex, or at least the stuff associated with sex, plays a big part in the story. Josh works at a STD testing facility after all; a significant storyline deals with a search for a herpes cure too, ultimately causing the leaders of the resistance to be known as "anti-bodies." Like we said, classic Rogen.
2. Unlike most Hulu shows, Future Man will drop all at the same time, not week by week
Rogen and executive producer/showrunner Ben Karlin stressed how much thought went into the plot of Future Man; it is, like a growing number of emerging comedies, big on plot. And since it's big on plot, the creative team fought hard to make the full season available at once so viewers could stay engaged with the story. "When something is plot-driven I like it in big chunks," Rogen said. "Who wants to wait for things? The world could end."
3. Seth Rogen is admittedly a little obsessed with end-of-the-world stories
This Is the End and, to some degree, his filth-fest Sausage Party are disaster porn stories depicting the demise of civilization as it's known — and Rogen makes no apologies for mining that idea again and again. "It keeps drawing us," he said, adding that since "humanity had the ability to wipe itself out in a few seconds," ruminating on it is fertile ground for comedy. "It is something we keep coming back to, probably because it seems the world could really end." This is the guy who nearly started a war with North Korea; he should know.
4. Eliza Coupe's character Tiger eats rats
Apparently that future food shortage we keep hearing about is real y'all. But Tiger's uh, untraditional ways aren't really a huge turn-on for Josh, which helps the series avoid predictable 'will they/won't they' tension.
5. It's packed with references '80s kids will recognize and love
Quantum Leap, Back to the Future, The Last Starfighter: it's all there, being repurposed for today. "It's inspired by a lot of the science fiction movies of the last 30 years," Rogen said, "but more than anything it's kind of like a journey. We want the show to exist in a world where all those movies are real." Future Man is less about homages, but more about what you'd do if you were dropped into an action movie — with the pics of your childhood informing your decisions.
6. Josh never does become the swashbuckling savior trope
Executive producer Ben Karlin said they avoided the 'wimpy guy becomes ass-kicker' cliche of yore. Instead they thought, "How else could we define heroism without Luke becoming a Jedi?"
7. Their co-star Glenne Headly's death presented challenges
Headley, who plays Josh's mom in the series, died suddenly during filming in June at the age of 63. Though she'd only filmed five episodes, production itself didn't' suffer much; because of the way the narrative unfolds, her parts didn't require much change. That said, her colleagues were rocked by her death and had to grieve as they worked. "It was hard from an emotional standpoint," Karlin said, "but we didn't have to do much rewriting at all."
8. It's gonna be raunchy...but tasteful!
"We enjoyed trying to make good dirty jokes," Rogen said. "We don't want to make something that's alienating. We want to be inclusive, not exclusive with our material. We like things that make you question why you like it, and be surprised at yourself that you're liking this thing. That's the challenge and the fun of it."
Future Man premieres Nov. 14 on Hulu.