Sunday, May 22, 2022

Interview: Andrew Goldberg and Kelly Galuska Talk ‘Human Resources’ and Expanding the ‘Big Mouth’ Universe [EXCLUSIVE]

From the creators of Netflix’s hit original Big Mouth comes a new adult animated series, Human Resources. This spin-off takes viewers into the inner workings of the lives of the creatures. It revisits familiar ones such as Hormone Monsters, Shame Wizards, and Lovebugs, as well as introduces new ones. The show follows the characters as they face professional and interpersonal challenges.

Human Resources was created by Kelly Galuska, Andrew Goldberg, Nick Kroll, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett. Ahead of the show’s debut, we had the chance to talk with Galuska and Goldberg about revisiting familiar characters and expanding the Big Mouth universe.

Note: This interview was edited for clarity.

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Nerds & Beyond: First things first, congratulations on this new show! What has it been like to return to the Big Mouth universe for Human Resources?

Kelly Galuska: It’s been great. And it’s been so fun to expand it, expand that upstairs world, you know, and revisit our favorites like Maury and Connie and the Shame Wizard, and then add some new crew to the mix. It’s been great.

Andrew Goldberg: And it’s been exciting to tell stories that are about real adult stories. Like what’s it like to have a child for the first time? What’s it like to have a parent who’s getting older? What’s it like to really love the Phoenix Suns and [all laugh] and you’re not sure if you should get your car wrapped to match your fandom.

Kelly Galuska: A real universal issue. [laughs]

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Andrew Goldberg: Yeah, you know, things that everybody experiences.

Nerds & Beyond: And going off that, I think you do a really great job of making these creatures much more relatable to viewers. How did you go about striking that balance between them also having these very human problems with their more absurd nature?

Kelly Galuska: I think it sort of just became a bit of a natural progression. We started with them as representatives of their emotions, like love and logic and ambition and shame. And then as we went, they became as human as our humans are. So, while they’re able to be wacky in a very special, creature-y way, they also, I think, have these really emotional, very human experiences as well.

Andrew Goldberg: Yeah, and to me, some of my favorite stories are the ones where we take our characters and explore an element of them that’s sort of not exactly who they are. Like a story about Pete being a Logic Rock and about how sensitive he is when he gets his feelings hurt. Or about how Lionel’s a Shame Wizard but when he meets the right lady Shame Wizard, he can turn into a Hormone Monster.

Nerds & Beyond: On a similar note, I also really liked how you offset the humor with some pretty heavy topics through both creatures and humans. Why was that important for you to include?

Kelly Galuska: That was always something that was always very exciting to me when these guys came to me and asked me to be a part of this, because as we expanded this, like Andrew said, to be able to tell these more adult stories, we’re telling these stories from birth until death. And a lot of stuff happens in those years. [laughs] So, it felt like a natural fit when we’re dealing with these big feelings to go through the highs and the lows. I think when we landed on birth for that first episode – and I was always, for whatever reason, also very interested in exploring death on this show – that became some good bookends for us, to be able to do birth to death and everything in between. Explore those things that, like I said, give us those big feelings.

Andrew Goldberg: Yeah, and we figured out early on that although the main characters of the show are these creatures, the show really is thematically about how challenging it is to be a human, about how hard it is to be a person. And there’s something very comforting in seeing that portrayed in a way, because it makes you feel a little bit seen, and you’re like, “Yeah. It is hard. And other people find that hard too? Well, that makes me feel a little better actually.”

human resources
Netflix

Nerds & Beyond: We also see the return of some familiar creatures and a lot of new ones. How did you go about expanding what viewers were already familiar with, and did that approach change or vary at all when you were creating some of the newer creatures?

Kelly Galuska: I think Maury, and Connie, and the Shame Wizard – these are all favorites of ours and the fans. So, they were part of the reason that these guys decided to do the spin-off to begin with. And I think – and Andrew, you can probably speak a little better to this than me for the beginning part of this – but just expanding that to what are these other things that we’re all experiencing each and every day. What are the other creatures in our heads that are leading our lives, and kind of expanding from there. Getting to things like ambition, and things like logic. And, you know, like need, even. When you’re first born the only thing you have is need. So, we have this Need Demon that came up. So, some of these creatures came up because we’re telling certain stories and we’re like, oh, there’s a creature that represents this emotion that we haven’t created yet, so let’s create that.

Nerds & Beyond: What subjects and/or creatures do you hope to explore in a potential second season?

Kelly Galuska: Hmm… Good question.

Andrew Goldberg: Yeah. I think that one of the amazing things about Human Resources is that’s such a tough question because it can be anything. It’s like what about the human experience do you wanna learn more about and understand more about? And I think we kinda just scratched the surface a little bit on grief, and Henry Winkler is such a delight that I’d be happy to bring Keith from Grief back anytime and learn even more about him. I don’t know. What do you think, Kelly?

Kelly Galuska: Yeah, I think my thing I keep thinking is like I feel we were very led by our feelings at the time and the feelings based on what’s happening in the world and empathy and feeling sort of… hopeful for a better future, I suppose, is something I would love to explore in this time that is very difficult. I think getting into those subject matters would be great.

Andrew Goldberg: Yeah, and I think it’s also so much driven by our experiences and our writers’ experiences. Like we started the show with a woman having her first baby because when we asked you to do it with us, Kelly, you just had your first baby.

Kelly Galuska: Yes. [laughs]

Andrew Goldberg: And it really… so we’re telling really personal stories that ideally lots of people can relate to.

human resources
Netflix

Nerds & Beyond: And sort of going off of that, do you find that it’s easier to write these fictional storylines based on such personal experience, or more difficult?

Kelly Galuska: For me personally, I find that that’s the easiest place to start. And I think that that’s – and you can tell me if I’m wrong, Andrew – but I think, same with Big Mouth.

Andrew Goldberg: Right.

Kelly Galuska: I mean that show, more than any that I’ve been a part of, made me understand how personal experience is the most truthful way to tell a story on screen, even if it’s a silly story. Even if it’s played for comedy. When it comes from a real place, it’s just like… it’s authentic and a great place to start, even if it’s a difficult subject matter, I would say, which we do a little bit more of in HR. I think it’s therapeutic for us to talk about these things that have happened in our own lives, and we find that when we talk about them, you find more and more people have had the same experiences and it’s very unifying and gratifying in that way.

Andrew Goldberg: Yeah. I don’t know if easy is the right word, but I think it’s better, and I think it’s more compelling and more interesting.

Kelly Galuska: That’s a good description. [laughs]

Andrew Goldberg: I think in some ways it’s harder because you’re really kind of like looking inside yourself and each other and kind of digging stuff up. But I think it makes for better stories, and more interesting, compelling stories. And ultimately when you come out the other side, I think we often have the experience – and I think the viewers will too – of kind of a catharsis, of kind of looking at an important, difficult issue in a funny way can kind of make you feel much better about it.

Nerds & Beyond: You mentioned catharsis, what else do you hope viewers take away from this show?

Kelly Galuska: I mean, just building on that, that’s the main thing, I think, for me personally, the big feelings that we’re exploring here. I hope that people watch this, and they see something in it that is them, you know. They see something that they’re like, “Oh, that’s a thing that I have felt or thought that I have not said out loud, or I have not really realized is felt so widely.” My hope is that this show, while absurd and so silly, also has something in it that just makes people understand that humanity is humanity, you know. No matter where on this planet you live, we’ve all got these same creatures leading us through our lives.

Andrew Goldberg: Yeah, I think if people enjoyed that Big Mouth can make them laugh and tear up in the same episode, I think they’ll really appreciate that about Human Resources.

Nerds & Beyond: What are you most proud of about Human Resources?

Kelly Galuska: Hmm. I mean, me personally I – gosh, that’s a hard one! I have to say I’m really proud of this show. I’m proud that we sort of pushed the boundaries in a lot of directions, both in the comedy and in the drama of this show. I’m proud, like Andrew said, that you have some episodes that you’re laughing and maybe even crying in the same 25-minute period. I’m very proud of that. I’m proud of the way that motherhood is [portrayed] on this show. That especially just hits close to home for me. It was really a special experience to be able to put that out there right after I’d done it. But yeah, I don’t know. What do you have, Andrew?

Andrew Goldberg: I have two things I’m very proud of. I don’t know if that’s cheating but one is I’m proud of how ambitious we were both in terms of the stories that we chose to tell and how we chose to tell them. And also how ambitious we were in casting the show, like that we were like, “Yeah, let’s ask Helen Mirren. Let’s ask Hugh Jackman.” And just every single actor on the show is just so wildly talented, and I think it shows when you watch the show. And the other thing that I’m very proud of is I’m very proud of our crew. I mean this was – we kinda knew what we were doing after all the years of Big Mouth, but this was a show that we started during the pandemic, which is a challenge. And our crew, no matter how ambitious we got, always stepped up and did incredible work.

Thank you to Kelly and Andrew for taking time to chat with us! Human Resources premieres March 18 only on Netflix. Read our review here and check out the trailer below.

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