When Future Man launched on Hulu in 2017, it carried with it an inherently complicated premise that didn’t easily lend itself to an ongoing series. Josh Hutcherson’s underachieving janitor Josh Futterman was visited by two warriors from the year 2162, Tiger (Eliza Coupe) and Wolf (Derek Wilson), who pinned him as their savior, the one with the ability to right a wrong in our present time to prevent a future in which the world is overrun by beings known as “biotics.” The first season played out in surprisingly engaging fashion, as the serialized time-hopping sci-fi storytelling was just as compelling as the filthy, sometimes delightfully strange humor. But when the season ended with Josh completing his mission and saving the world, thus saving the future timeline, it felt like there were few roads to travel that wouldn’t feel like treading the same territory over again.
Luckily, the writers and producers behind Future Man are as ambitious as they are talented, and thus Future Man Season 2 manages to feel fresh and different without combing over familiar territory. As it turns out, Josh didn’t so much save the timeline but altered it. Season 2 begins with Josh brought to the year 2162, albeit a very different 2162. Tiger and Wolf follow close behind, discovering that the Earth is similar enough to their previous timeline in some ways (familiar faces abound, albeit with different names and memories), but divergent in others (a large swath of the population are boarding space ships to colonize Mars after climate change has turned Earth into a scorching desert).
The season opens with the three main characters kind of navigating disparate storylines. Josh is being held captive, Tiger makes contact with biotic-like humans at a facility called The Mons (where humans are preparing to leave for Mars), and Wolf is in The NAG (the New Above Ground), which is populated by humans who refused Stu Camillo’s (Haley Joel Osment) cure and live a post-apocalyptic existence in kind of commune. Wolf is mistaken for his new timeline’s counterpart Torque, which gives Wilson a chance to stretch his acting chops, and indeed throughout the first half of the season Wolf’s storyline—and Wilson’s performance—is a major highlight.
Since all episodes of Season 2 are dropping on Hulu at once, the season plays with narrative in interesting ways. The first three episodes are essentially divided into three separate storylines—the first follows Josh, the second follows Tiger, and the third follows Wolf. This allows the viewer to really dig into these three very different storylines before the characters are reunited, and the impact is such that when they do come together, you have a deep understanding of where each is coming from.
Indeed, Season 2 doesn’t simply reset the dynamic but builds off of the conflict and drama of the first season in really interesting ways. Just because Josh, Tiger, and Wolf saved the world together doesn’t mean everything’s peachy, and their individual experiences in this new 2162 timeline throw new major complications into the mix.
If it sounds like I’m rambling on and on about the plot and characters while neglecting the comedy, that’s not because the show isn’t funny anymore — far from it. The R-rated humor remains consistent throughout the new season, and there are a couple of cameos from top-notch comedic actors that add some colorful flavor to the proceedings. But Future Man’s strength as a series has been the writers’ willingness to take the sci-fi seriously, and indeed there are times when you almost want the joke to be done so you can find out what happens next in the story.
The show’s first season wasn’t shy about the influence of films like The Last Starfighter and The Terminator, and Season 2 similarly wears its influences on its sleeve. It’s clear that the film that had the biggest impact on Future Man Season 2 was Back to the Future Part II. Not only does the season play with alternate timelines and seeing how past events affect the future, but the show even throws in some delightful musical homages to Alan Silvestri’s iconic score.
In terms of a one-sentence pitch, Future Man Season 2 is kind of like Back to the Future Part II mixed with the delightfully odd and R-rated humor of This Is the End, which not coincidentally was written and directed by Future Man executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.
The sci-fi aspects of Future Man are taken seriously, resulting in a narrative that’s just as compelling and inventive as any serialized sci-fi series. But it’s the mix of that engaging sci-fi with complex characters and off-kilter humor that makes Future Man a unique cocktail of a show. Fans of the first season will find plenty to love in Season 2, and the refreshing quality of the storytelling will make you eager to see what these crazy writers could cook up for a potential Season 3.
Future Man Seasons 1 and 2 are now available to stream on Hulu.