It’s been a tough year for animation, not because of a lack of quality material; if anything, there are more great series and movies to watch in 2022 than ever before. But as the industry faces abuse and mishandling by corporate interests, it is becoming increasingly difficult for ideas to thrive. That’s why it’s so good that one of the best of the year gets a second run.
It’s of course, Netflix Impasse: paranormal parka comedy series adaptation Dead Endia showrun by series creator, Hamish Steele. Telling the story of Barney, a young trans boy looking for acceptance after problems at home in the form of a job in an institution haunted theme park, the series took our hearts when its first season hit Netflix earlier this year. Now, just in time for Halloween, the show has been confirmed to return for a second season.
To find out what fun awaits Barney, Norma and the rest of the crew when they return, we spoke to Steele via email. Check out the interview below!
James Whitbrook, io9: Congratulations on the announcement of Season 2! How does it feel to finally have this in the world?
Hamish Steele: Surprising! I was so excited to announce another season because even in the last two weeks I really felt the fandom grow and grow. I see so much fan art, tiktoks and theories going around—IIt feels good to share this good news with everyone.
io9: The first season came out when we were really stuck in this horrible wave of attacks on trans rights that is still going on. What did it mean to you to write and champion Barney’s journey through it all – and to see his reaction when the first season hit Netflix?
Steel: When the show launched in 2018, I naively thought that maybe things would be better when it came out, that Barney wouldn’t be so bad. Now, I don’t know if it came out at the right time or the wrong time, to be honest. Especially doing a show in the UK where transphobia seems to be our main export, it was sometimes scary to be so visible. But it also makes me proud that we were able to be a production company where we could secure our team and be clear about where we were at. When I created Barney in the original webcomic, I had no hesitation in making him trans. He represented a boring normality to me, to contrast with the fanatical world of demons. It took me a while to get used to it being so unique as a TV protagonist. For many viewers, children and adults alike, he might be the very first trans person they really get to know. I’m really glad the response he received was so positive.
io9: By the end of the first season, Barney and Norma had largely overcome some of their greatest personal struggles. What challenges will they face in Season 2?
Steel: Barney and Logs will take their relationship to the next level and we’ll see them try to become boyfriends in a world filled with ghosts, demons, and zombies work. Part of Barney’s struggle will be the lure of wanting a normal life with Logs, but still being so caught up in the supernatural. For Norma, she shifts her particular interest to demonology and starts a podcast with Badyah, who she may develop feelings for. I’m a little nervous about some fans seeing Norma’s story this season. If people have read book 2, they might know what I’m talking about. All I will say is that I’m really proud of the story and it comes from my own experiences. I hope it’s very relevant even if it’s not the sunniest and most rainbow direction people were hoping for. Our show has always tried to have one foot in reality, even with all the paranormal shenanigans. Sometimes things don’t always have a happy ending, but fighting the pain and coming out the other side is what’s important.
io9: What can we expect from the Angels, the mysterious villains teased at the climax of the first season?
Steel: Why do you say bad? What about a mysterious masked creature zapping sfirst season‘s big bad makes you say bad? Haha! Well yes… Season two will concern what is above rather than what is below. We will meet angels, but we will also explore more demons and explore more of their planes. An angel we’ll meet was a major character in the books but wasn’t in sfirst season. It will be Fingers, played the hilarious Jamie Demetriou. He is now a season regular, appearing in every episode. But again…friend or foe??
io9: Can fans expect the show to play with more genres as we enter the new season, like with the first season’s musical episode?
Steel: Yes! We feature a few more songs and we have a whole episode of Sports Movie when Barney joins the Demon Wrestling Federation. Our season finale will be even more epic than last time. But we also have episodes that feel much more like proper sitcom plots than sfirst season. We also have two types of experimental episodes later in the season, which take place at the same time from the point of view of two different characters.
io9: Where do you hope Dead end goes beyond that – do you see a future where it goes beyond what was planned in Deadendia?
Steel: There are three books (book 3 is on the way, promise) so I would love three seasons to tell the whole story. But that’s up to the Netflix gods to decide. I’ve also had spinoff ideas, but I don’t want to get anyone too excited. What matters at the moment is that ssecond season is an even greater success than sfirst season.
io9: You will be discussing the show more at Gayming Live Online this weekend. Given the importance of queer themes in Dead endhow important is it to you to continue to promote the series at outlets and events like these?
Steel: Honestly, I always knew there would be hatred for the show from fanatics and the right. It never concerned me—haters will hate, etc etc. What was important to me was making sure that the community we made this show for knew it existed. Because I know so many people would love this show if they only watched a little bit of it. I come from the fandom. I’ve been this queer animation fan watching Rebecca Sugar’s streams and drawing adventure time fan art. So it’s only right to be that person for others and to engage as much as possible with the kind of fandom that I know I would have been a part of if it wasn’t my show. I love hosting events like this and speaking to gay-oriented media because I know they get us, and I don’t have to put on the LGBTQ+ 101 kid gloves.
io9: The animation industry has recently found itself tossed between Netflix’s own cost-cutting methods and the recent crises at Warner Bros. As you present your own series, how have you been through these news cycles of corporate mismanagement, and what do you hope industry executives learn from the backlash that there has been to this bad treatment of anime series?
Steel: I mean it’s not great! And honestly, I’m afraid that this “backlash” will not be heard at all. Most people are not on Twitter, most people don’t read news about the entertainment industry. And while much, much, LOTS of confidence has been lost this summer from workers in this industry, I’m afraid all they care about are the customers who have never heard of it. So we have to keep being loud and keep demanding better treatment. I feel lucky to the point of blaming the survivor for being able to release 20 anime episodes this year. My heart goes out to all the teams at all of these canceled shows. I really hope there is a better future on the horizon.
Impasse: paranormal park returns to Netflix on October 13.
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