The show finally embraces its cyberpunk roots
We mentioned above that the show, for the most part, has ditched the cyber-noir tone of Season 1. According to Schapker, this was a clear decision as dictated by the shifting tones of Morgan's novels.
"[Similar to] the books, which we're not doing [the series] in a faithful chapter-by-chapter way, but inspired by them, it takes on a different sort of genre tone in the sense of it's not a noir, red-light district whodunnit," she continues. "Just to just have tons of nudity would have been gratuitous."
Instead of sticking with the Blade Runner aesthetic from the first installment, the program branches out and explores multiple tropes and style nods classic to the cyberpunk genre. There's bits of Philip K. Dick and pieces of William Gibson here. And, from a cinematic perspective, you've got hints of the bright neon, night club-filled, classist futures as depicted in movies like from Total Recall, Demolition Man, and The Matrix.
"It turns into a bit more of a military thriller or more of a like a sci-fi heist," Schapker continues. "[Morgan] does not stick to just one sub-genre of cyberpunk. So we, too, are allowing ourselves each season to let the mystery be its own thing."
Season 2 is posturing for more mainstream success
Anthony Mackie's attachment to Altered Carbon brings with it a bigger possibility that fans of his work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe may actually tune in to watch. And while Schapker denies any influence Disney may have had in keeping Mackie mostly clothed for the duration of the season, she explains that, for her, sex and violence in a TV show such as this need to be justified.
"I really feel like sex and violence sort of should come from the story, you know?" she says. "I feel like season one, very much, that story demanded that nudity. We were dealing with a mystery that involved the sex workers, the red light district, sexualized violence against women, and just by that nature, you were just going to see a lot of flesh."
The Season 1 story was taken from the first book in the series, which inspired the unflinching tale that was being explored. But in its second season, Altered Carbon is scaled back in that regard. Yes, there is still a fair share of shoot-em-up action scenes -- and the blood still flows -- but the use of nudity is sparse. So, while this still may not be considered a show that is guaranteed fun for the whole family, the demographic scope has expanded greatly.