Brett Konner, Cody Heller, Lucy DeVito, Tyler Labine, Brandon T. Jackson, Cat Deeley and Troy Miller at Hulu’s “Deadbeat” SXSW premiere.
In celebration of today’s premiere of Hulu Original Series “Deadbeat,” we sat down with the show’s creators Cody Heller and Brett Konner to talk about their inspiration, experience working with Hulu, how they gave birth to the character Kevin Pacalioglu, and surviving asbestos exposure.
All ten episodes are available today (April 9) on Hulu Plus. The first two episodes are available on Hulu.com, with an additional new episode launching every week.
You can watch the first episodes here:
or here: http://www.hulu.com/deadbeat
Hulu: How did you guys come up with the idea for DEADBEAT?
Cody: Four years ago, we were watching a lot of these supernatural dramas on TV – like MEDIUM and GHOST WHISPERER – and we started noticing this trend. The main characters – the protagonists – who were endowed with these rare abilities to communicate with ghosts were also super well-adjusted and, of course, beautiful. It got us thinking… If you really were born with the ability to talk to ghosts, it would probably f*ck you up.
Brett: Especially if you weren’t a hot chick. It’s hard enough for some people to make friends and, eventually, become productive members of society. If you were labeled a “freak” from a very early age, you probably wouldn’t turn out well.
Cody: We started to think about what might have become of the little kid from THE SIXTH SENSE.
Brett: He’d probably turn out less like Jennifer Love-Hewitt and more like “The Dude” from THE BIG LEBOWSKI.
Cody: If you had this ability and became this outcast, you’d likely turn to food and drugs for comfort. I mean, I can’t even talk to ghosts, and that’s still where I turn for comfort.
Brett: And so Kevin Pacalioglu (played by Tyler Labine) was born.
Hulu: Where did the tone of the show come from?
Brett: We knew we wanted to write a comedy and we knew we wanted to go pretty dark with it. There’s a lot of sadness around death, obviously, but there can also be a lot of humor. Sometimes the humor is how you deal with the sadness without going crazy.
Cody: Another trend we saw in these ghost shows was that the “unfinished business” of the ghosts – the thing, or want, keeping them from moving on into the Light – was usually pretty heavy… pretty deep.
Brett: Avenging a murder or protecting a loved one…
Cody: We thought it would be funny to keep the wants and goals of the ghosts similar to the wants and goals of most living people.
Brett: Spiritually, we justified it by thinking that, if you were “enlightened” – that is to say, if you were able to let go of your humanly wants upon death – you would immediately go into the Light and not become a ghost. So the only types of people that did become ghosts would be the really petty ones with really inane wants.
Cody: That, plus the idea that the one guy who can help these ghosts finish their unfinished business is himself barely able to function in society, seemed like pretty fertile comedic ground for a show.
Hulu: Where did the other recurring characters come from?
Brett: We liked this theme of “What’s more important: having a real skill or having the ability to fake it?” With Pac, we have a character who can actually talk to the dead, but has no real business sense and certainly no real people skills. He even admits that most of his clients wind up more willing to put up with their ghosts than to put up with him.
Cody: On the other end, you have Camomile White (played by Cat Deeley). Camomile has absolutely no real ability to talk to ghosts but has managed to use her charm, wit and sex appeal to build herself a paranormal empire. She appears on talk shows, is a celebrated author of ghost erotica…
Brett: She’s got her own brand of cigarettes.
Cody: “Camomile Lights.”
Brett: We wanted to have her in this self-produced workout DVD called “The Exercist” which combined light aerobics and cleansing one’s house of evil spirits. But anyway, yeah, she’s total bullshit.
Cody: We see this a lot in our industry. People getting by without having any real talent. Just because they’re good in the room, or good with people. I mean, I’m doing it right now!
Brett: Cody, shhh!! Um, anyway, yeah, and then we have Pac’s only friend, his drug dealer, Roofie (played by Brandon T. Jackson). Roofie doesn’t see ghosts but he sees something far more abstract – and that is he sees potential in everything. This makes him a very good entrepreneur. Eventually, he channels this energy into Pac, giving him one of his newsstands to use as a ghost headquarters and, later, convincing him to embrace his destiny when Pac has reached his breaking point.
Hulu: What did you like most about working on DEADBEAT?
Brett: Seeing all these DEADBEAT billboards plastered all over LA and NY has been a real trip.
Cody: It’s crazy.
Brett: That’s definitely been awesome. To know that Hulu really believes in our show. If I’m being honest, though, some of the most fun we had was in the writer’s room. We had some really talented writer friends of ours help pitch ideas the whole summer. It was awesome when you’d be circling an idea for an episode – usually trying to find the comedic, weird take on a pre-existing ghost trope – and you’d be going crazy like, “How is Pac gonna get out of this one?” And then you figure out a way.
Cody: Also, we lucked out and got an amazing cast and it was unbelievably fun to work with them. It was fun to watch them bring the words to life. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true.
Brett: The crew as well. Really a committed bunch of, let’s be honest, characters. And really talented. Through rain and cold and—
Cody: Polar vortexes.
Brett: And asbestos. That one subway tunnel, man. I still cough up blood.
Cody: Me too. I hope we don’t die before the show comes out.
Brett: That would be some unfinished business…