AMC & C4’s ‘Humans’ Returns With ‘Terminator’-Meets-Brexit Season Three & Female-Led Crew


Humans, the Gemma Chan-fronted sci-fi drama for AMC and UK’s Channel 4, is coming back for a third season and this time the robots are controlled by a predominantly female team.

Emma Kingsman-Lloyd has joined the Kudos-produced series as exec producer and Vicki Delow joins as producer. Jill Roberston, who previously directed series including Hulu’s Harlots, has come on board as lead director along with a multitude of female crew.

Kingsman-Lloyd, who has previously worked on shows such as Grantchester and Flowers, said it gave the latest season of the show, created by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, a different tone and a different feeling on set. “It was interesting coming in to a show that had been predominantly run by a male exec, male series producer and male producer. We were exciting to bring some female voices on to the team.”

Delow added, “It gave the show a different view point; I don’t think we would have made it completely different than they would have done but we brought something different because we were new and female. It made it more robust.”

Roberston gave the show a different dynamic, according to Kingsman-Lloyd, along with a number of female camera assistants. “With period drama or family drama, the fact that you have a female director is never really questioned, but unfortunately, we still live in a world where a female director leading a genre show like Humans, which has big action sequences, isn’t the norm and it absolutely should be. It’s marvellous that SJ Clarkson is now not the only one and there’s more female directors coming through in the genre,” she added.

Chan, who plays synth Mia, said the the fact that the show is filled with strong female characters was one of the things that originally attracted her to it. “There’s a backbone of really strong female characters, from the youngest, Sophie, and Mattie and Laura in the family, through the synth family as well. I think all the female characters are complex and nuanced and fully-rounded characters, which is what you really want as an actor.”

The actress, who is set to star in forthcoming features including Captain Marvel and Crazy Rich Asians, added that the industry was at the “beginning of change” when it comes to gender parity. “The conversation has definitely started, and there’s discussion going on. I don’t think we’re there yet, there’s a lot of things we have to work through, and I think we’re in new territory in a lot of ways. But I’m excited that it feels like we’re hopefully at the start of a new era.”

Season three of Humans, which launches on Channel 4 in the UK on May 17 and on AMC in the U.S. on June 5, starts one year after the dawn of consciousness, where a decimated and oppressed synth population fights to survive in a world that hates and fears them.

Max, Mia and Flash live in a designated area for Synths known as ‘the Railyard’ whilst they try to broker an uneasy peace with the human world, while The Hawkins family are adjusting to their new lives with Laura and Joe living apart. There are also a number of new characters including a charming scientist played by Catastrophe’s Mark Bonnar.

The third season of the London-shot show has been described as Terminator-meets-Brexit with the fact that humans and synths are having to work out how to live together echoing the political divide in the UK, as well as parallels with the politics of Donald Trump’s America. “The major theme of series three is how two species can live together in harmony and whether that’s possible,” said Delow.

“The current political climate and where we are as a nation and as a world is absolutely part of it. We try to explore both sides of the argument and try to be balanced and not demonize either side; there are really interesting questions to ask on both sides. We didn’t sit down and say we were going to do a story about Brexit [but] sadly it is very relevant to all audiences,” added Kingsman-Lloyd.

Humans asks interesting questions about robotics and AI, particularly relevant in a world that is starting to look more and more like an episode of Black Mirror every day. “We owe it to the fans to intelligently explores the world of robotics and AI because the audience, which has really responded to it, often knows more about this world than we do,” she added.

Chan said there are the challenges of playing a robot and goes through synth boot camp, run by choreographer Dan O’Neill, but added that the show is also grounded in the real world. “There’s something about the fact that it feels very embedded in a real world – so even though it’s science fiction, it feels very plausible. Some of the scenes that have the most drama take place in a family kitchen, and I think people watching it can feel ‘that’s how my family might respond if we had a synth in our home’. It’s very relatable for people.”

Channel 4 airs a slightly longer version of the drama than AMC, which has more advertising breaks during the hour. But Dellow said that it is essentially the same story. “We just have to be a bit quicker for AMC than for Channel 4. We have a strong hold on what this story is and both broadcasters have been incredibly supportive about letting us tell it,” she added.

There’s also no end in sight for the eight-part drama. Kingsman-Lloyd revealed that there will be a surprising ending for season three but added that Vincent and Brackley, who write on the show alongside a team of other writers, have a “bigger world view” in terms of further series. “They have a strong sense of where they want this story to go beyond series three,” she added.

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