'Human Discoveries' creators talk about the show, claim Zac Efron has more to offer than just a 'really impressive set of abs'
Starring Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick as the primary protagonists Gary and Jane, ‘Human Discoveries’ does a great job of social commentary, wherein the idea was to not lose half the audience when discussing hot button issues.
‘Human Discoveries’ is one of the funniest things you will have watched in a while, and it all began with popcorn four years go. The co-creators of the Facebook Watch series Chris Bruno and David Howard Lee were eating popcorn one night when the former wondered out loud who was the first to take a corn cob, roast it over a fire, and then eat what popped off.
And thus, began the journey of ‘Human Discoveries.’
Starring Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick as the primary protagonists Gary and Jane, ‘Human Discoveries’ also does a great job of social commentary, wherein the idea was to not lose half the audience when discussing hot button issues.
“The time we’re living in is a little bit…divided. Our minds are made up on the issues that are important to us, and the moment you hear buzz word x (gun control, immigration), or trigger word y (patriarchy, capitalism), the conversation is over,” Bruno and Lee tells MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), adding, “Whether you’re left or right, red state or blue state, our opinions are our opinions, and we’re not interested in hearing new points of view.”
The creators wanted the show to be for everyone, “regardless of where you live, or who you voted for.” That’s where the popcorn came in. They elaborate: “The thinking was, the first person to discover one of our favorite modern-day snacks probably didn’t do it because he was hungry. Two people were probably sitting around, trying to impress a third person, and decided to throw this useless plant into a nearby campfire. First to three wins. And now we eat popcorn.”
From there, the ideas just started rolling, because the idea was established that everything came from somewhere. “Sure, there was a first person to discover fire. And a first person to invent the wheel. But what about the first man to pretend they were more important than a woman? Or the first person to say they didn’t like someone…and it turned out the only reason was because of the color of their skin?”
They describe ‘Human Discoveries’ as a show “about where we are today, told through the lens of where it all began.” Having the plot start at the very beginning of human history turned out to be beneficial in more ways than one, though, with “rich, layered characters” having “defined arcs, season journeys, and opportunities for growth -- both physically and emotionally” being the primary one.
“Not only could we tackle any issue we wanted, because nothing was invented yet, but we could also show the evolution of humans beyond their classic stereotypes we even see today,” explain Bruno and Lee, taking Efron’s hunter Gary as an example.
“Deep down, Gary wants to be something different. Mostly because, ya know, he’s really bad at hunting. Jane (Anna Kendrick) is the same way. She’s a gatherer, but in reality, she has some of the biggest ideas in camp. Having her just pick berries all day is a massive waste of her time and talents.”
Similar templates applied to Ugg (Paul Scheer), the big hunter who turns out to be more sensitive than we think, Minerva (Jillian Bell), who has to figure out what she’s good at in order to survive in the new prehistoric economy, Gary’s best friend, Trog, (Lamorne Morris) is a perfect depiction of millennial culture, seeking credit wherever he can.
Morris, they say, made Trog ten times more complex and nuanced than what was on their blueprint. Adapting the characters on the page to the actors actually bringing them to life has been one of the best parts of the creative process for them, they say, specifically pointing out Scheer’s Ugg and Efron’s Gary.
“The Ugg he came up with was better than the Ugg we had envisioned,” they say regarding Scheer’s voice-over work, before gushing over Efron’s work as Gary: “I think a lot of people who watch his movies and have seen him, um, shirtless, might consider him a perfect candidate to play Ugg, who’s the ultimate alpha male. But once you get to know Zac, you realize he’s has a lot more to offer than just a really, really impressive set of abs. He’s smart, considerate, introspective and, just like the rest of us, neurotic about the small things in life. He really is an everyman, and incredibly relatable on a personal level. Zac is the perfect Gary, because, deep down, he is Gary.”
Having set out with the goal of creating a humorous show that is “clever, creative, universal, and makes a bigger point about life than just the joke itself,” Bruno and Lee looked to ‘South Park’ for inspiration.
“That show is incredibly raw and offensive at times, but it’s also brilliant. Even in its crudest moments, the show is making a bigger point about society, and they treat all subjects with equal amounts of vitriol and, ultimately, respect,” they say, and how if you’re trying to get comedy out of a stereotype, “you better have a lot more to say than just the stereotype. Otherwise, you’re being lazy and insulting, without revealing a greater truth about the world.”