Format: Web Series
I can’t imagine too many people being familiar with Future Man, let alone watching it. Over the course of the last three years, it hasn’t enjoyed mainstream status especially with Hulu’s dramas taking precedence over their comedies for the most part. One would think that having Josh Hutcherson headlining the cast would amount to some love, considering he’s a veteran at finding himself in strange situations (read: Hunger Games movies). But it is produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg who are known for their tongue-in-cheek humour with films like Superbad. The writers on the show are the team behind the unapologetically funny Sausage Party. Safe to say a lot of the jokes centre around sex, drugs and other unsavoury material that teenage boys get their kicks to, and the setting itself makes it an outlier.
In the show’s very first episode back in 2017, Josh Futturman found himself in deep conversation about the raunch of Ms Pac-Man. Back at home, he celebrated a victory in a video game ‘Biotic Wars’ by masturbating to one of the warrior characters, Tiger (Eliza Coupe). Just the next moment, Tiger and Wolf (Derek Wilson) showed up in Josh’s bedroom revealing that they must team up to save the world from the apocalypse. The three characters then went back and forth across the past, the present and the future, constantly saving the Earth even as they came to terms with their clashing personalities. In the second season, they did it all again, this time to undo their own mistakes. In the end, evil Susan (Rogen as a vicious TV presenter) imprisoned the three in 3491 for messing up the time-space continuum. Now, their mission is to keep surviving in the ‘Die-cathlon’ - a futuristic game show stuck in a time loop. It will take some time for it all to come together, especially since the next few episodes are spent muddling up the characters with memory loss and meandering timelines which keep them from being together. By the end, however, Josh, Tiger, and Wolf do seem to have figured out the lesson they were supposed to learn this whole time and move on their journeys.
Before I sell Future Man short, it’s really not all raunchy humour. At its core, it delivers perfectly to the nerd who laps up 1980s science fiction and fantasy movies like Weird Science, Back to the Future, The Terminator, the Superman series, and the show Quantum Leap. There’s a lot of spoofing, a lot of referencing and some genuinely clever dialogue, full of wonderful punning and wordplay. It’s bizarre premise then may seem somewhat a distraction to all its great writing, but if you are familiar with that time period it is referencing, you’d know that a nerdy janitor who is the unlikely hero is precisely the kind of protagonist who would save humanity. Season 3 actually improves upon this trope. Josh is no longer the centre of all that is nerd-wisdom. Instead, we are told that he is not a hero and the Die-cathlon has gone into a loop because he won’t survive. This makes the emotional arc in the finale episode complete (when Josh gives a profound life lesson to a kid whose actions control the future). Unfortunately, the final act of heroism is also for a rather wafer-thin plot point.
But seeing all the characters return to the timeline that most fits their personality flaws and their growth as people is also pretty satisfactory. In addition, this season doesn’t have any pointless foils like the previous ones. Instead, Seth Rogen is a rather likeable antagonist due to his home engagements. He has a robotic wife and daughter whom he rents because that’s just the kind of place that the world has become. Sure, he’s a narcissist who uses humans for sport inside a crazy TV show, but that just serves as a metaphor for the kind of decadent entertainment reality shows are providing nowadays so it all works out in the end. Perhaps the pointlessness is in that, like previous seasons, Future Man Season 3 barely has enough plot to fill into a whole season. It is the really the character development and the signature pop-culture referential style that keeps you hooked. But if you have stayed with it so far, it provides for consistent entertainment.
In the first season, the love interest for Josh calls him ‘harmless’ and ‘charming.’ This is possibly the best way to describe Hutcherson’s presence in the show. He’s a perfectly nice protagonist and continues to be so after three years. But he is centred as the human who takes everything too seriously. His partners, Tiger and Wolf, have come much further as warriors who were still adjusting to the ways of the world and now see humanity as a greater cause than their own. Still, it is Seth Rogen who turns out to the MVP this season. What makes him likeable is the fact that Seth himself is likeable. He plays off the material in a rather stoic mannerism the way he has done in most of his previous work.
Future Man’s key operating word is silly, which may not be a drawback in general. But for people hoping for more depth from their comedies, this is all you get. The writing is very self-aware about visual entertainment and there is a moral lesson at the end. But it is still a superficial and one-dimensional look at three underdogs who’s bizarre travels save the day. To give credit where due, this season still takes a lot of liberties to serve its characters’ progress better. But it still doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t have anything meaningful to say. Not to mention, the theme and style is too niche to be palatable and interesting for everyone.
If you like weird, quirky, oddball characters and stories, then the final season does justice to what its original intention was. In spite of some initial spacing issues, the set up has been spaced in a way where there is enough of its signature raunchy humour, silly jokes and pop culture references. The closing credits gag makes for worthwhile viewing.
Music and Other Departments:
Set in a variety of time and space zones, sometimes all in one episode, Future Man has some great gags involving unique and stunning visual representation. The production design of the show feeds into both the low-quality kitsch of cult science fiction films but also the sophistication of contemporary shows. The screenplay has been written to utilise these visual cues well.
Did I Enjoy It?
Kind of. The first few episodes tested my patience but that closing credits gag was too hilarious. Overall, the finale is perfectly in-tune with the show’s tone so far and all the characters get a good send-off.
Do I Recommend It?
If you’ve been keeping up with the show so far, definitely. If you like content ridden with pop culture references, most definitely. Otherwise, the show may be a bit too nerdy and random for you.
Rating: 3.5 /5