‘Weird City’ Co-Creator Charlie Sanders On Developing A Sci-Fi Comedy Anthology Series With Jordan Peele

02.13.19 4 months ago

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It seems like every other day there’s an announcement for a new film or television project from Jordan Peele. In fact, he has a new series dropping this week on YouTube Premium, a sci-fi comedy called Weird City. Co-created by Peele and former Key & Peele writer Charlie Sanders, Weird City is an anthology series “set in the not-too-distant future metropolis of Weird.” The middle class no longer exists, and Weird is separated by a literal line right down the center: with the upper-scale, futuristic area known as Above the Line, and the relatively normal (at least from outward appearances) area known as Below the Line.

Uproxx recently spoke with Weird City co-creator Charlie Sanders about the show and what to expect, both in terms of world-building and the obvious comparisons to other major anthology series. Mild spoilers ahead for the pilot and season finale.

As a contemporary anthology series, you have to be pretty aware that there are going to be some Black Mirror comparisons when Weird City drops. Were you and Jordan Peele both aware of that going into this? And did you try to do anything to avoid those comparisons, or were you just doing your thing?

Charlie: I mean, we were largely just doing our thing. We knew that Black Mirror was out there, and we both like Black Mirror. The thing that makes our show different is … Well, it’s a comedy for one thing … And then also in this anthology, although all the stories are unique, they all take place in the same city. So there’s a lot of connective tissue underneath the stories that link them together. So I think those things will set it apart.

Keeping that comparison going for a moment, you guys essentially started the series off your own version of “San Junipero,” which I think really set the tone for what the show is. Is that something you were definitely thinking about just to make sure that people know immediately, not just that this is a comedy, but it’s very light-hearted too?

Yeah. Like, I love all sci-fi. I’m a sci-fi nerd. But you know, 70-80% of it, I feel, is pretty dark. And so this a semi-testament that it can… You know, I’m just an optimistic person so I wanted our show to talk about both the good and the bad of tech in the future. And the first episode is especially optimistic. There’s a couple episodes that are darker stories than that, but largely across the board, we comment on both the good and the bad of the future.

What was the creative process behind the show like? Did you have this idea originally or did Jordan or someone else approach you with this idea? What were the steps to get this series to be a reality?

It took seven years to get the show made. The very origins of the idea were in 2011 … I was a writer for Key & Peele for all five years, and the first year of Key & Peele, I would write a lot of sci-fi comedy sketches. And Jordan really liked them, and we just started talking about them and had this idea — all the way back then, we were already calling it Weird City — he was blowing those ideas out into their own episodes for a comedy sci-fi anthology.

And what made YouTube Premium the right fit for the show after these seven years?

YouTube Premium was the right fit because every other TV company in the entire universe said “no.”

What do you think it was it about Weird City that spoke to them?

I think they just liked the inventiveness and I think they liked it was like no other show that had been made before.

The fact that there is this connective tissue within the show since it all takes place in the same city and presumably all around the same time — you’re not jumping back and forth — does that seem to provide seemingly infinite possibilities for stories?

It does. And that’s something I really like about it. You can go anywhere in the city to find some kind of sci-fi story and put a comedy twist on it.

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