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Connecting stories to real events helps audience to lean forward: ‘Upload’ creator Greg Daniels

Mumbai, Mar 7 (PTI) It is more interesting to thread an original needle with comic stories than preach people about real-life problems, says award-winning American writer Greg Daniels.

The man behind shows such as the American version of “The Office”, “Parks and Recreation” and “Upload”, Daniels credits his writing experience of working in popular animated sitcoms “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill” for sharpening his satire skills.

The Emmy Award winner, who started his career in sketch comedy with a show called “Not Necessarily the News”, a remake of “Not the Nine O’Clock News”, in the late 1980s, got his next job at late night sketch show “Saturday Night Live” in the next decade.

“I have worked on ‘The Simpsons’, which was full of satire writers with similar backgrounds and was intentionally satiric of American culture. By the time I was creating and running ‘King of the Hill’, I felt that connecting television stories to real events and problems in society that people can relate to causes the audience to lean forward, wondering what you are going to say about society. It gives more interest to the comic stories if you can thread an original needle and not lecture people,” Daniels told PTI in a Zoom interview.

The 56-year-old writer-filmmaker is looking forward to the premiere of the sophomore season of his Amazon Prime Video sitcom “Upload”, featuring Robbie Amell and Andy Allo.

The series takes place in the near future, where people who are near death can be “uploaded” into a virtual afterlife called Lakeview of their choice.

The new chapter, which is set in the year 2034, pokes fun at real-life technology advancements.

“There is a lot of anxiety in contemplating what could happen in the future. When you think about what’s happening now in the world of tech and how big companies are using it to surveil people and there are a lot of changes that are happening in the society. Some of them will be great, some are not great. The point about the show is to look at them, laugh about them rather than to preview them and think about them in a fun way,” he added.

The sci-fi comedy series is set in a technologically advanced future where hologram phones, 3D food printers and automated grocery stores are the norm. Most uniquely, humans can choose to be “uploaded” into a virtual afterlife.

In season two, Nathan (Amell) is at a crossroads in his after life, his girlfriend Ingrid (Allegra Edwards) has unexpectedly arrived to Lakeview hoping to strengthen their relationship, but his heart still secretly yearns for his customer service angel Nora (Allo). Meanwhile Nora is off the grid and involved with the anti-tech rebel group “The Ludds”.

According to the makers, the upcoming season is packed with new near-future concepts, including Lakeview’s newest in-app digital baby programme called, “prototykes,” and other satirical glimpses of the technological advances and headaches to come.

Amell, known for shows like “The Flash” and film “The Duff”, said he views the progression in the field of technology positively.

“A lot of things in the show are subjective and a lot of people will love or hate them and how technology works in our lives today. There is some anxiety about the world we live in and the metaverse and how much people have been online for the last two years. As somebody who had a baby at the beginning of COVID-19, if there was a digital afterlife, I would probably look at it in a more positive way than negative way,” he added.

There are both pros and cons of having the latest technology, asserted Allo.

“Technology allows us to access a lot of different things at our fingertips and connect with each other but there is also a dependence on it where we can become disconnected from each other.

“It is (about) a fine balance of relying on it, using it, having the ease of connecting with each other on FaceTime or doing Zoom interviews which is amazing but also having that balance of taking a step back and enjoying human connection in person and not letting go of that part of humanity,” Allo, whose acting credits include “Pitch Perfect 3”, said.

The seven-episode series is executive-produced by Daniels and his producing partner Howard Klein. “Upload” premieres on March 11 on Prime Video. PTI KKP RDS RDS BK BK

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