It was a long hiatus, but Upload Season 3 was worth the wait.
In many ways, the season is unlike the previous ones, exploring new concepts and different dynamics and bringing us a double dose of Nathan Brown.
And with conspiracies lingering, some exciting changes, and so much more, there is plenty to discuss about this season.
We had the privilege of hopping on Zoom to chat with Upload’s co-executive producer and writer, Maxwell Theodore Vivian, about Nathan and Nora’s romance, Ingrid’s possible redemption, switching things up with the AI Guy, and much more.
Check out what he had to say below!
This season, it’s double the Nathan, which broadens the scope of the season and what you guys can explore with it.
How’s that been working out? Can you talk about the decision to introduce two versions of Nathan?
It was one of those ideas that gets tossed out, and you’re like, “Yeah, that’d be interesting. It’d be a lot of work.” And then as you talk it through, “Well, then we’d get to do this, we’d get to do that,” and, “Oh, there’s the scene you have to do further down the line.” It just became more.
Robbie Amell‘s so great at playing both of them and as the season goes on, people will see just how much work he’s put into playing both Nathans in subtly different ways depending on their specific situation and what they’re going through. So it’s super exciting.
Upload is always ahead of the curve, which is almost freaky. Just how? The AI focus this season, especially with the strikes happening and everything, is hitting so close to home and very timely.
Corporatism and capitalism and the exploitation of the poor and the political stuff. There’s so much going on, so many things that feel timely and relevant. Can you delve into that?
Yeah, we have such a lag between seasons that you never really know for sure what’s going to be exactly hitting in that moment. This whole chatGPT mid-journey stuff, when we were writing the season, was not really in the popular consciousness, so we weren’t aiming directly at that.
Maybe people had a good idea that there might be some strikes around this time, but we weren’t aiming directly at that. But these things are all in the air, you know, as things that it feels like society will have to deal with or reckon with at some point.
And so I think that we have our ear to the ground to a certain extent, and we keep track of what’s going on, and then sometimes you get lucky with timing, and stuff just hits.
There’s a sense of urgency this season with Nathan and the fear of his head exploding, and that’s upped the stakes in an exciting way. But it’s also challenging his relationship with Nora. Can you speak about finally getting Nora and Nathan together and the two dealing with this?
Yeah, the first season, Nathan and Nora were a “will they, won’t they.” There were these natural obstacles between life and death.
Anyone can probably think of a show that they’ve loved where, when the two leads finally got together, it wasn’t so fun anymore.
So we felt like it was important to find new challenges to the relationship, both sort of Sci-Fi horror, like the head exploding, and both really small relationship stuff that they could discover about each other now that they’re living in the same place for the first time since they’ve known each other.
Yeah. It’s great that you have that perfect mix. They have regular relationship issues sprinkled in there, too, which makes them relatable and feel sustainable. They transitioned well, their relationship translated well, and they have great chemistry.
Thank you. It does work well. They’re delightful together.
What was your biggest challenge this season?
I’m unsure if this is the biggest, but one of the biggest. The first thing that comes to my mind is the geography of it all.
You have characters in different places, both for story and budgetary reasons; it’s easier and sometimes better if everyone’s in the same spot hanging out. We wanted to broaden the scope of the season. We wanted to go to different places; we wanted to have these adventures.
And so it was like, all right, how do we keep that feel of friends hanging out in a familiar location, but also how do we blow things up in a way where it’s like, let’s get them out and around and doing stuff.
And being able to log into Lakeview from virtually anywhere definitely helps with that. But even then, it was a challenge to strike that balance, I imagine.
There are so many locations you guys are playing with this season, even in Lakeview, with the introduction of different areas and things. I can see where that was challenging.
You guys play around a bit with the dynamics, too, which is interesting. We get Ingrid and Nora, a unique bond to delve into, Luke and the AI guy, Aleesha, Lucy, and Karina. Was it fun and different for you, getting to introduce new dynamics?
Anytime you use an underutilized combination, it’s fun because it makes the show feel new again. You get to decide, “Okay, what will this dynamic be? Is it going to be unexpected in any way?” And things like that.
It comes from getting to know the actors better, their own personal, off-camera dynamics together, and knowing, “Oh, these two people vibe.”
Or this person can really carry the comedic part of the scene, and this person can really carry the straight man part of the scene and just being able to have confidence that they’re going to crush it no matter who they’re with.
As I’ve gotten from our cast, they’re all phenomenal actors and great improvisers and things like that. So we tried to take advantage of that this season.
Ingrid — Allegra is so great this season –Ingrid has an interesting trajectory with a lot of meaty, emotional work and self-reflection. Would you consider this her redemptive season?
Things are headed that way, but Ingrid is still very flawed.
Allegra Edwards is so fantastic about showing those two sides of the character, even in the season premiere; when she confesses part of what she’s doing to the new Nathan, you see that she has Tinsley ready to restore him from backup if things go poorly.
So there’s always two steps forward, one step back. And her number one quality is that she loves Nathan. She loves Nathan more than anything. And so you have to wonder, no matter how good she gets, if that is threatened, what she might do.
Another interesting character you guys are exploring is the AI guys. We get tech rights, body autonomy, and things like that, which is a fascinating choice. Can you delve into that?
Yeah, that was a cool, fun part of the season.
We’ve all seen science fiction do the evil AI that takes over and eradicates humanity. We definitely wanted to do something more surprising than that with the AI guy.
There is just this natural human understanding that if something gets smart enough, it will start looking around and wondering why it gets treated differently than the other things. And so we wanted to explore that in a fun, Upload type of way.
Every season, it feels like you guys just upped the ante and raised the stakes. How is this season bigger and better than the previous one?
Oh, man. One of my favorite things about this season is that — the show is a mix of all these different elements: the romance, the drama, the mystery, the comedy, the tech stuff, all of that.
I think we’ve maybe, I won’t say “perfected” because, hey, give us a season four, but I think we’ve dialed into the mix of those elements so the show feels more consistent and streamlined and like one piece rather than like, “Oh, here’s a romance scene, and then here’s a technology scene, and then here’s a whatever scene.”
You know what I mean?
Yeah, of course. You guys also had a nice balance. Nora and Nathan are at the hub of that. But we get great Ingrid content. We have some strong stuff with Aleesha from the corporate angle and a shift in perspective for her.
I have a lot of friends who work in Tech as coders and things like that. And it’s funny to watch that chat because I’m a little far removed from it, but you’ll see somebody like, “Hey, I had a job offer from X Corporation.”
“Everyone’s kind of like, “Oh, you’re seriously going to work for them?” And then they’re like, “They’re going to pay me this much.” And they’re like, “Okay, well, I get it then.”
I think Aleesha’s storyline is a very real human experience that she’s going through, and that’s something she’s going to have to figure out as she’s asked to do more unsavory things as she climbs higher and higher, which we’re going to see a bit of in the back half of the season.
What are you most excited about viewers?
Oh, man, there’s so much. The really specific stuff I’m not allowed to say or I’ll get in trouble, but I will say that there is just a lot of fun and joy.
Despite how dark the show can be, sometimes there’s a lot of fun stuff coming that people will get a kick out of that uses the characters in our world and enjoy ways for the audience. So it’s going to be a good time.
You guys keep raising the stakes every season. When we get a season four, where do you even go next with Upload?
You know, it’s funny because I’m sure at the beginning of season three, we were just like, “I don’t know, man. Like, what do we do?”
But once we get in a room together and we start throwing around ideas, certain ideas just kind of catch fire in your brain. You think, “This is something we can build a season around.”
I imagine season four isn’t going to be some massive departure for the show, but we’ve set a new high watermark with season three, and we’ll definitely be trying to exceed it.
—- This interview has been edited for length and clarity.—
Over to you, Upload Fanatics. What are your thoughts on the interview? What are you looking forward to this season? Sound off below!
Upload returns with two new installments on Friday.
You can stream all available episodes of Upload on Prime Video.