Please stop me if you've heard this one before. A sexless, pitiful nerd with no real prospects — he's working as a janitor and living with his parents — is reliant on video games for pleasure and self-esteem. That's not a sentence cribbed from an entry-level handbook on character creation: it's a description of the lead role Josh Hutcherson's going to play in Future Man, a comedy Seth Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg are developing for Hulu. It'll be Hutcherson's first major project since wrapping up The Hunger Games series late last year.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, he'll play Josh Futturman, an unlikely hero selected because of his gaming expertise to travel through time and save the world. The pitch goes on to reveal that Hutcherson's character suffered through a "sickly adolescence," an experience that's supposed to justify his social ineptitude and depressing life. That's all fine and good, but there are some real warning signs here, and most of them revolve around Future Man's perspective on gaming as both a skill-based endeavor and a lifestyle.
Can someone please explain the name "Future Man?"
Let's start with the fact that his character within the game's dystopian world is actually called "Future Man." Future Man? There are two possibilities here: "Future Man" is the name of the game's lead character the way Geralt is the lead of The Witcher 3, or Hutcherson's character actually named his in-game avatar "Future Man." Neither option is good. (Imagine playing World of Warcraft and naming yourself "Orc Man" or "War Woman.")
It's also unclear how this game actually works: he's the "top-ranked" player in the world, but the pitch references his defeating some kind of final level. Is this a MMORPG? Is it a MOBA with an integrated story? What's the relationship between his PvP ranking and the game's boss structure? Is this a Destiny-type situation where he slaughters people in the Crucible and holds a world-record time for raid completion to boot? Oh, and did I mention this game is called Cybergeddon?
Do we need another pitiful gamer character?
You can probably figure out why I'm skeptical. Why build a show around a gamer whose skill within said game is his only redeeming quality? It's 2016! The internet and the world are full of popular, successful, skilled gamers: eSports celebrities, people with empires and content deals built on Let's Play videos, casual fans who play mobile games while they commute and PS4 when they get home.
In short, there are dozens of other ways to build a show around a prodigiously talented gamer who becomes a hero. Hutcherson could play an expert League of Legends player or a PewDiePie-like mogul without compromising the show's core idea. Future Man's pilot is still in the works, so almost everything about the show could still change — it's even possible that it fades away without being made. With that said, it's hard to imagine the show not receiving a series order given the creative star power involved. Let's cross our fingers for a show that's fresher than its premise.