In Upload, there’s a mix of genres: Greg Daniels

(Photos: Jason Redmond/AP and Amazon Prime Video)
Self-driving cars. I am locked down with my family. While many may not be aware of Daniels through his name, but for any consumer of world comedy, it’s impossible to not have chuckled at one-liners created by Daniels. Phones that are actually holograms that snap into existence between your forefinger and thumb. I do think its connected, I loved The Office, it was my favourite. As for the future bit, I agree, I think the future is just where they live and you know it’s really about who they are and the kind of personalities they live with. I did like science fiction a lot when I was a kid. I am walking around New York back in the day, I was trying to think of ideas for sketches and there were all these discussions about digital versus analog and I thought that if you can digitise yourself then mankind could make our own afterlife because there would be no physical body anymore. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether it’s really happening. Think The Office (2005) with the antics of Dwight Schrute and Michael Scott or Parks and Recreation where Amy Poehler tries to create a utopia in the small-town of Pawnee. In a zoom conversation, 56-year-old, Daniels talks about Upload, his long-lost-love for science and why The Office will always be a romance. I like that aspect too. I was speaking with Andy the actress who plays Nora in Upload. Excerpts
While Upload is set in 2030, it could very well be talking about today’s times, where a large part of the world is practising social distancing and communicating only through virtual means, very much like Nora and Nathan, the protagonists from the show. Upload is streaming on Amazon Prime Video
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. But we then realised, for example, that Facebook has damaged democracy and journalism and it has a sort of an unintended bad side. You have written sketch comedy, satire and sitcoms and have seen it evolve to be this force to be reckoned with. But we also see unprecedented rage, especially on social media, where people take offence at the simplest of jokes. She is by herself in this lockdown and she realised she could only speak to people through technology and that is so similar to the show where Nora could speak to Nathan. People have this association of heaven with justice, and I had done a lot of work on the romance between Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) in The Office. There is something very yearning about the desire to connect now, in such times. One of the issues here would be unfairness and the human afterlife would be unfair. © IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd Have you always been interested in science and this kind of futuristic storytelling? One of the themes of Upload, is how all this technology will be introduced amid all the optimism and one of the issues is that it often has unintended consequences and it backfires a lot. I kept thinking that what would that be like? Daniels has also written parts of Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons and is often credited to have created characters that are quirky, heartfelt and very relatable to the public at large. So I thought about that for a long time and I was going to write it as a book before The Office and then I started working on The Office and we had a strike in 2008 and I worked on it some more. When I was a kid, there was a section of the New York Times Science Times and I always thought I would end up writing for the section as a science journalist. Traffic cops who operate through drones. So yes, the internet is connecting people but it’s also magnifying the cranks and voices of the weirdos, allowing other people to think that these views are more widespread, when they are probably just made up in a troll farm in Russia. One of the things that attracted me to it was enabling me from doing something different than my normal stuff. I thought of revisiting this. It’s very hard to judge what people are really thinking. This (Upload) was a great premise for a very good romance because there was all this love and jumping this gap and struggling against this large obstacle and one of them not having a physical body. But most people are quite reasonable and good-natured unlike some of those people with extreme views online. I sort of found a comic way into it and thinking about how the tech companies would use it to charge you for everything. You know, how here, there’s a mix of genres, right? Upload as the name gives away, is a lot about a futuristic world, and is a far cry from Daniels’ usual oeuvre. As a comedy writer, I surely have my view on things, but then there is the internet and social media where there is so much initial optimism of connecting people. In Upload, we deal with the afterlife, where you can upload yourself digitally and continue to live, in an alternate time and space quantum. All these things exist in the universe created for us by creator-director Greg Daniels, in Upload, his latest offering that is streaming on Amazon Prime Video. That ‘what if’ question was very intriguing because I assumed it would have all the pluses and minuses of human society. It is six of us and we are kind of stepping on each other’s toes. I actually had this idea for Upload when I was writing for Saturday Night Live. Are we as people, losing our sense of humour? Upload has a scathing comment on capitalism, human greed, but in the end, it’s essentially a love story, set in the 2030s. Upload is a surprise offering, a departure from your usual staple, we hear a lot more of scientific and nerd chatter. And we often wonder if there are others who share these extreme views on the internet. When The Office was over and I was wondering what I could do. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
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Published: May 7, 2020 2:18:35 pm

Greg Daniels’ Upload is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.