Alex Garland has a well-documented interest in fatalism and esoteric sci-fi, and the new trailer for “Devs,” his long-awaited first television series, makes clear that the director isn’t shying away from the eccentricity that made him a major name in cinema.
The “Devs” trailer and premiere date were unveiled at the show’s panel at the Television Critics Association Winter 2020 Press Tour Thursday, where Garland (“Ex Machina,” “Annihiliation”) and cast members discussed the show’s eclectic world and influences. The first two installments of the eight-episode miniseries will premiere on Hulu March 5, with new episodes subsequently hitting the streaming service every week.
“Devs” follows Lily Chan (Sonoya Mizuno), a young software engineer who believes the cutting-edge quantum computing company she works for is responsible for the disappearance of her boyfriend. Her investigation leads her to Forest (Nick Offerman), the CEO of her company, and the company’s secretive development division. What follows is a spiraling conspiracy about free will and rapid technological advancement with potentially world-altering consequences.
The series’ trailer opens with new employee Sergei (Karl Glusman) questioning Forest on what he should do at his mysterious job, only to be rebuked and told that he’ll “figure it out.” It’s a fitting introduction for a series that doesn’t intend to easily explain itself to its audience. Garland’s work is defined by complex themes that are open to interpretation, and the writer-director said the upcoming series’ philosophical and scientific ideas would gradually reveal themselves throughout its eight-hour runtime.
“You can’t reduce these ideas to soundbites,” Garland said during the “Devs” TCA panel. “It’s about drip feeding, rather than frontloading it, but also having an underlying faith that audiences will be interested in this.”
Garland, who has previously expressed dissatisfaction about film distribution, told TCA attendees that the television industry is more open to strange ideas and noted that being able to flesh out his ideas over an eight-hour runtime allowed for much more creative freedom. While the determinism and technological ramifications that “Devs” has hinted at won’t become apparent until the series premieres, the trailer, with shots of grisly violence, a gigantic doll in a forest, and fantastical computer rooms, suggest that Garland’s far-flung vision won’t be constrained by the series’ runtime.
Despite all its technological marvels/horrors, Glusman noted that one of the most memorable aspects of working on the series stemmed from its set design. The massive, psychedelic computer room featured early in the trailer was made via practical effects, rather than green screen, which made emphasizing with the series’ arcane concepts more natural.
“So much of the work is done for you when you don’t have to pretend that you’re seeing code on the screen that someone puts there,” Glusman said during the TCA panel. The quantum computer is hanging behind the glass just a few feet from you and is marvelous looking. You just have to show up and react to what is there, which is a lot easier.”
Though “Devs” was initially slated to broadcast on FX, the series was shifted to Hulu when parent company Dsney announced its “FX on Hulu” initiative last November. The initiative will bring FX’s originals library to Hulu and the network will also produce shows for Hulu. “Devs” is the first FX-produced original that will stream on Hulu as part of the deal.
Check out the trailer for “Devs” below: