In a world that looks more like Idiocracy every day, don’t you wish there was some more Portlandia-style place to escape to – a place where everyone saw things your way, the right way, and there weren’t so many dummies disagreeing all the time?
That’s exactly the kind of world that exists in Bubble, a show about “unemployed young people who live in a domed hipster neighborhood and fight monsters.” It’s a new project from comic Jordan Morris, a writer on @Midnight and co-host of the podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go! Blending humor, sci-fi, and political escapism, Bubble builds a world where, in a crumbling society, there are a daring few who choose to live, quite literally, in a bubble – but will things really be better that way?
It’s a fascinating premise, one with frighteningly topical tie-ins and endless opportunities for genre bending. Part Bio Dome, part Broad City, with a tinge of 28 Days Later, Bubble’s got something for everyone – but you can judge for yourself.
Instead of shopping the script around, Morris put together an all-star pilot reading, and you can hear the whole thing. Bubble’s debut stars comics Eliza Skinner (The Late Late Show), Mike Mitchell (Love, The Birthday Boys), Alison Becker (Parks and Rec), Robin Thede (The Nightly Show), Ian Wolterstorff (Funny or Die), and Taylor Orci (Broken People), and it was recorded live at LA’s Nerdist School.
The full 40-minute pilot is below, followed by an exclusive interview with Bubble creator Jordan Morris.
When did you start writing Bubble? What inspired it?
The actual writing took place over a hiatus I had from @Midnight (I’m a writer there, a job which I love dearly). I holed up in a hotel room for a few days and wrote most of the script.
I’m a big fan of dramadies like Girls and Netflix’s Love, but feel like they could use more monster fights. I loved the idea of doing the sci-fi / comic book version of one of those shows, but had trouble thinking of a good jumping-off point.
I feel a little like a dipshit tying this to the election, but I’m about to — sorry. After the election, everyone in my circle was just in disbelief and kept saying some version of,“Wow, we really live in bubble, don’t we?”
It’s really true. We live in neighborhoods full of people like us and click around social media feeds where our opinions get rocketed back at us IN ALL CAPS!!! That gave me the idea for a kind of Portland-y hipster biosphere were people move to avoid the outside world. That’s where the pilot starts.
What was your initial plan for it – did you want to try to film Bubble, or did you intend it to be an audio project?
I considered video, but had the thought that someone would be more likely to listen, like they would a podcast, rather than sit down to watch a 40-minute video. Something you could listen to over the course of a commute. I guess I could have taken it a step further and just called it “S-town 2.”
Is this something you’d like to see go to series?
I’d like nothing more! I think it would be a great show for a streaming service or a hipper cable network, like FX or IFC. Somewhere that attracts a more adventurous TV fan who would be more likely to be down for a genre mash-up.
Do you think self-releasing pilots to get people’s interest going is a good alternative to the traditional pilot pitching process?
I don’t know that it’s best for every project. I think if you’re an established script writer, you’re better off pitching the idea and getting paid to write the pilot. For me, I’m trying to show off my genre chops a little bit. As someone who writes for a late-night show, I think I need to prove that I can write longer form stuff.
How did everyone else in the production get involved?
I was real lucky to get the cast that I did. In the case of Alison Becker and Mike Mitchell, I wrote those characters with them in mind. Everyone was someone I had done comedy with, either at Upright Citizens Brigade or on podcasts. Ian Wolterstorff and I were in my first improv group in LA, at a place called Ultimate Improv that’s not around anymore that was in a former cell phone store. Robin Thede and I were paired up to co-host a live stream of the Kids Choice Awards years ago. Eliza Skinner and I wrote on a webseries produced by the guys who would go on to create @Midnight.
What was the recording process like – did people spend time getting to know the story beforehand or was it more of a cold read?
The cast got the scripts a few days beforehand. I would have liked to do table reads leading up to it, but since I wasn’t paying anyone I didn’t want to be too much of a time suck. Luckily, they were all pros.
What do you hope happens next with Bubble?
Right now, I’m just glad it’s out there. Ideally a big time company wants to make it, but I’d consider it a success if someone downloads the audio from Soundcloud and makes a dubstep mashup.