Exclusive: Q-FORCE showrunner Gabe Liedman on the creation of his series and its controversial trailer

Production still from Q-Force.
Gabe Liedman helms a brand-new adult animation series Q-Force. Pic credit: Netflix

Drama, undercover drag queens, and endless queer pop-culture references? Q-Force has it all. This 10-episodes comedy is the latest adult animation series to be teased by Netflix. The series follows American Intelligence Agency agent Steve Maryweather (Sean Hayes) and how he overcomes the discrimination within his heteronormative, red-blooded field.

Q-Force was created by comedian Gabe Liedman, best known for his work on Inside Amy Schumer and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. And aside from its unique storyline, it also features an all-star cast. Lending their voices to this show are actors Sean Hayes, Laurie Metcalf, Wanda Sykes, and Stranger Things’ David Harbour.

Liedman opened up about the cultivation of his series, sharing that the idea was brought to him by Hayes. He shared to Monsters and Critics, “Sean Hayes, who’s the star of the show — he and his producing partner, Todd Milliner, had the seed of an idea for something they wanted to do something with gay James Bond. It was a character that Sean really wanted to play, and they met with me as a writer.”

He continued to share, “I went away for a little bit and thought about it, and I came back to them with Q-Force, which is it’s not exactly James Bond. But, in my thinking time, it occurred to me that there wouldn’t exactly be a gay James Bond.” Liedman added, “It would be a different story. This guy, even if he had the looks and the skills and all the trappings of James Bond that we love so much, there was a good chance that his bosses in this macho a*s world, we’re not going to think of him the same way, that he would be a bit of an underdog.”

While Q-Force tells a heartwarming story about pride and togetherness, it breaks the mold by coupling it with raunchy humor and subversive commentary about authoritarianism. Viewers will find that this forthcoming series isn’t afraid to be weird and fun, and unabashedly queer.

Monsters and Critics had the opportunity to chat with Gabe Liedman about the creation of Q-Force and the misconceptions that viewers have made about the series, preempting its release.

Q-Force relies on its ensemble cast for authenticity

Speaking about the creation of Q-Force, Liedman shared that the series was destined to have an ensemble cast. He expressed that this was important to the show’s queer identity. He said, “It occurred to me that the best way to tell this story would be as an ensemble to tell the story of the whole squad. As a gay man, I find myself next to bi people, and lesbian people, and trans people.”

He continued, “We’re a big community fighting together, lifting each other up. And it seemed like it would be a waste to just sort of focus on this one ‘James Bond’ character. I wanted to tell a group story, an ensemble story, and an underdog story, and it just seemed inherently funnier to me that way.”

During the creative process, Liedman also had an immediate inclination towards making the show animated rather than live-action. He shared that “the sky’s the limit” when it comes to animation. Liedman instantly formed these ideas of the diverse squad of agents traveling the world and doing extensive stunts, something that would be hard to fund if it was pitched as a 22-minute, live-action show.

Production still from Q-Force.
Patti Harrison voices Stat in Q-Force. Pic credit: Netflix

“I knew that the best version of it [Q-Force] would be animated because the sky is the limit. People who make television, and especially comedy, are not going to be able to pull off awesome action in real life. I think a version of this where the real Sean Hayes is jumping off a plane and punching out someone’s windshield at full speed in a Canyon is going to just play differently than if you really make it slick and gorgeous in animation,” joked the showrunner.

Q-Force’s teaser trailer ‘fell a little flat’

It would’ve been an epic fail not to ask Liedman about the controversy which arose from Q-Force’s teaser trailer. Both the show’s teaser trailer and official trailer both sit on Netflix’s YouTube channel with an overwhelming amount of dislikes — an experience that had to be an upsetting shock for the show’s creative team. However, this wasn’t a topic that we harped on too much, as much of the show’s preemptive criticism doesn’t exactly align with the content shown throughout the ten episodes.

When asked about the dreadful trailer controversy, Monsters & Critics prompted Liedman to address the misconceptions surrounding the series.

Liedman shared, “I think there was a bit of a disconnect between what was shown publicly and what the show is. I don’t exactly know what to talk that up to. I definitely don’t want to throw my colleagues who work in marketing and publicity under the bus because they’re just trying to make the show look fun. Everyone’s just doing the same thing. We’re all trying to sell this show to an audience because we want people to connect to it. But, yeah, that first trailer fell a little flat.”

Liedman continued, “I think it’s a tall order to show in 20 seconds what a whole TV show is going to be. It was also timed for Pride Month, which is this very charged environment. And when you’re dealing with representation on television, people are hungry for you to get it right.”

He importantly added, “They want to see themselves on screen. And I think it’s a bit of a symptom of there’s not a ton of LGBTQ plus representation on television. There’s a lot more now than there used to be. But I think people are still hungry to see themselves on screen and they weren’t seeing it.”

However, Liedman isn’t sweating over it. He had made it clear that his show is hilarious, wild, and filled to its brim with ridiculous antics — and he already has ideas brewing for a second season.

Check out our full conversation below.

What to read next? Don’t miss our exclusive conversation with Rick and Morty showrunner Scott Marder.

Q-Force debuts September 2 on Netflix.

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