Warning: Minor “Forever” spoilers below.
The creators of Amazon’s “Forever” are keeping incredibly tight-lipped on the plot of their new comedy series.
Other than a bare-bones synopsis describing its leads as a married pair who live a “comfortable but predictable life” and suddenly find themselves “in completely unfamiliar territory,” not much has leaked about the series. Its writers even went as far to pen a personal letter to the media requesting a mile-long list of spoiler points (including crucial events that happen in episodes one, two, three, etc.) be kept out of reviews. And that’s only a slight exaggeration.
So, why should you watch it? If you don’t want to throw your trust blindly in reviewers who may claim the comedy is worth the eight-hour binge, the big names attached to it will put your inquiring mind at ease.
That married couple you know little about is June and Oscar, played by “Saturday Night Live” alums Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen, respectively. If you’re not yet totally sold, perhaps this will hook you: “Forever” comes from the minds of Emmy-winning writers Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard, aka the guys who brought you “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock” and “Master of None.”
“We wanted people to come into the show not knowing anything about what it’s going to be about except that Maya and Fred are in it, which is hopefully a huge draw,” Hubbard says, insisting that coming into the series with a completely clean slate is the best way to experience it.
He adds: “I think in a world of many, many thousands of TV shows, it feels like now, that element of surprise is so difficult. The show took some interesting turns and went someplace you didn’t expect, so it can be gratifying as a viewer if you don’t see those coming.”
Below, Hubbard reveals, well, not much about the comedy that we can say deals with relationship issues anyone who’s anyone can relate to. “Forever” is now available for streaming on Amazon.
You don’t have much to draw fans in here other than the projects you’ve worked on in the past. How do you feel “Forever” compares to “Parks and Rec” and “30 Rock”?
Well, one huge difference is that “Parks and Rec” and “30 Rock” are both built for distance. Those are network comedies where they want you to get 100 episodes out so the people who created those shows were smart in terms of making them low concept plots so you could be in Pawnee for 100 episodes, be with Liz Lemon and you don’t get tired of it. One thing that’s very gratifying about this Amazon show is we can know what the end is before we start. It’s a huge thing that’s hard to do when you’re doing 22 episodes a season. We were able to work backward from the ending and put in little Easter eggs. And you can have people swear, which is nice.
How did you and Alan come up with the premise for a show that primarily focuses on only two characters portrayed by Maya and Fred?
Alan had breakfast with Maya and Fred who obviously worked together for many years. They wanted to do a show together. He called me and we just started working on ideas. All they knew is that they were going to be in a show together.
We sent them a bunch of ideas, one of which was the very silly premise of, Maya and Fred are ghosts that don’t haunt people. One line. We sort of all laughed at it and asked what other emotional pours could drive a show. We started talking about marriage and other ideas, like what would happen if you were stuck in a long-term relationship, literally forever. What if nothing was ever going to change? Are people meant to be together for the rest of their lives? We had those questions at the core of this show.
You’re pulling at relatable feelings in the series: isolation; fear of commitment, fear of being stuck in a routine.
We’re trying to portray both sides of a marriage, which is you do sometimes feel alone and bored but also the next day you feel you’re with someone you want to stay with the rest of your life. An opening montage that opens the series portrays that these are two people who, No. 1, love each other, but have been through ups and downs like anyone who’s been together for 15 years has. There’s a time when you’re happy when you’re bored. For us, ultimately we believe Oscar and June are right for each other and should be together. That’s the discovery they go through over the course of the season.
The show goes through moments that can be pretty heavy, but the humor is hidden within. What went into the decision to make this darker than your previous comedies?
There’s no reason to be afraid of a little bit of drama. Good comedy has emotions at the heart of it. We wanted this to feel as real as possible . . . Given some of the themes here, this show doesn’t lend itself to a straight-line joke pace. We wanted to slow things down and we wanted emotions to feel real. I call it almost reaching for a joke, you really bend the language so someone said something funny. That’s hard to do but hopefully we got there.
Did you shoot “Forever” with the vision that it would stand alone, or is there room to expand upon and explain this series in a second season?
We are more than open to future seasons. For us, this show is ultimately about a relationship in a marriage between two people who are trying to figure themselves out . . . we’ve got a bunch of ideas for interesting things for them to go through as they find themselves in this new world.
For those who’ve actually seen the series, how would you decode the open-ended finale?
In my mind, what’s happening there is they see something; they’re in a new place and see something they haven’t seen before. What that is, we don’t want to say yet. But, I think we also want you to think they’re in a good place with each other and hopefully what this thing is that they’re seeing will continue to push them in other ways.