There is a simple reason why shows like The Walking Dead are so captivating, according to Neil Cross, creator and EP of Hulu’s new drama Hard Sun.

“I think all apocalyptic dramas are essentially reassuring, they’re not really about destruction,” he said at TCA on Sunday. “We always assume that we’re the ones who survive and these stories are more transformational than destructive. They afford us an opportunity to imagine ourselves stripped of the day-to-day responsibilities; they allow us to imagine our essential selves, that in facing this enormity we will find ourselves brave and able.” Then in a direct Walking Dead reference, he added, “We’re Rick, we’re not the zombies.”

Hard Sun follows detectives Elaine Renko (Agyness Deyn) and Charlie Hicks (Jim Sturgess) as they navigate the incipient threat of an as-yet mysterious world-ending event.

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Cross also discussed the current relevance of the topic. “There’s a broader sense that we seem to be living in a pre-apocalyptic world in general,” he said. “We genuinely have no idea where we’re going to be or what the world’s going to look like in a decade’s time.”

Another way the show reflects current societal change is in its gender parity. The detectives are very much on an equal footing with none of the typical will-they won’t-they factor.

“The thing that I loved about the script straight away is you can take off the table any romantic involvement whatsoever,” Deyn said, “and it was really fun to be able to play with just a human-to-human relationship. It kind of becomes genderless.

Deyn also made the choice to pare down her appearance. “I wanted her to feel very essential in mind and in motion,” she said. “I wanted her to be able to experience anything and to be able to do that, to take away everything that might feel complicated. So if she has really short hair, it kind of makes her timeless. It goes back to the Joan of Arc look. It becomes not about the look, it becomes about the person.”

As for the future of the show, Cross does not anticipate following the story beyond the apocalyptic event. “The show was inspired by a song called Five Years by David Bowie, so I do have kind of a five-year plan for where it would go,” he said. “In this show, there will be nothing after the apocalypse — unless we get offered a season six.”