I liked the coincidental element of the TV show's kill because it made James' epiphany clearer: He's not numb, just lonely.
Yeah, I think he's lonely, and he's equated those feelings to the concept of being the psychopath he thinks he should be. His mother's suicide left something in him that he and his dad have ignored -- he can't unpack it himself until he meets Alyssa. He's experimenting with the idea of killing things to get him over this trauma -- he kills a bat, snakes, mice, and a hamster, and he's gotten to the point where he meets Alyssa and he's like, Well, obviously, I'm going to kill a human because that's just what people like me do. But then he doesn't. Or he does. But technically he does it to save somebody, and it's exactly that type of conundrum that's left in the show. And it's funny, right?
A lot of people have taken the show way more seriously than I think it is. The number of people that have talked to me about animal cruelty when we kill a man is… really weird. I'm just like, We're murdering a human and everyone's bothered about the damn cat in the box? It's really interesting to me that people care more about that because we all thought the animal stuff was kind of funny, the way he creates this version of himself, that's like a stereotypical psychopath. The show drives a fine line between really dark stuff and quite slapstick humor.
There's a lot of humor in unexpected places, like when Alyssa rebuffs Topher.
Yeah, I was adamant from the beginning that we weren't going to make a show with teenagers with six-packs, taking off their shirts and making out. There are too many shows like that. I wanted to make a show where they didn't have sex. Sex is the least important thing in this show. If anything, we've kind of made a platonic show. I'm so bored of movies and shows where it's like, Oh, obviously that's the love interest and that's the guy.
That moment, and a couple others, have also received lots of attention given the reckoning that's been happening in the entertainment industry today. How did this scene -- which isn't in the original -- come about?
It was sort of in the very, very late writing stages that we realized taking the sex out of the show was going to make it really strong, and it was from that that we realized she's obviously not going to have sex with Topher. Since Jess basically is Alyssa in real life -- in fact, she's more chill in the show than she is in real life -- it was like, Well, it's just Alyssa's response, isn't it? There was never really a conversation about it. Charlie wrote that amazing scene, and the element of consent just came naturally from Alyssa and Jess on the day.