With other sci-fi hits banking on the dystopian genre for television audiences, Sanders explains he and Peele wanted to go in a slightly different direction. Peele already has his upcoming Twilight Zone reboot, so why not keep Weird City fun?
"I wanted to keep it optimistic," Sanders says. "I mean, there are some darker stories in the episodes. I love dystopian sci-fi... it's one of my passions. But, I do feel like it's almost always kind of pessimistic, saying things are going to get worse and things are bad. And that's just not the way I feel about the world. I'm sort of an optimist, so I wanted my show to have that. I was curious what it would be like to tell sci-fi stories through an optimistic prism."
That doesn't mean the show doesn't shy away from exploring deep issues. One common thread that seems to come up again and again is the idea of free will in a society overrun by technology and automation. Weird City presents a reality in its pilot episode where people live their lives as dictated by mobile apps and AI. In its finale, it tells a meta-story about actors seemingly stuck in the story of their on-screen characters as their hit TV show meets its end. This was all by design.
"I'm constantly questioning the existence of free will or not. I'm obsessed with existentialism and stuff like that," Sanders says with a laugh, referencing episode 6 in the season as a meta-take on his own creative struggles with Hollywood. "That was sort of like my feelings of identity as a person in showbiz. Like, 'should I be doing this or not? Is this good for the world?' Most of the time it feels like it's not, but then you have moments where you do. So yeah, I think free will is a common theme throughout the entire series."