Impulse Season 2: Doug Liman tells how YouTube’s best series evolved

Photo: Impulse Season2.. Maddie Hasson.. Credit NBCUniversal
Photo: Impulse Season2.. Maddie Hasson.. Credit NBCUniversal /
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Impulse Season 2 is even better than the first, and executive producer Doug Liman spoke to Hidden Remote about how the YouTube series continues to grow.

When Impulse premiered last year, the YouTube original series was spellbinding. The second season has now arrived, and TV fans will once again be on the edge of their seats following Henry’s next chapter.

Doug Liman is the show’s executive producer and connected with Hidden Remote to discuss why the series is such a passion project for him, as well as the continued development that keeps the series growing and challenging viewers.

Learn more in our interview with Doug below, then don’t miss Impulse season 2 now on YouTube. Every episode of the series is currently free with limited advertisements on the show’s channel.

Hidden Remote: Impulse is such a unique series. What did it mean to you, to get a second season and know that people were responding to it?

Doug Liman: Impulse is as personal as it gets for me because it’s something I’ve been trying to make for 10 years, ever since Jumper. So it really meant a lot to me that audiences are connecting with it. It’s my first time ever getting 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

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But way more meaningful to me [are] the responses I’ve been getting from the fans. What I love about being on YouTube is the fact that you get these comments. I’m addicted to that. It’s not that I want to hear all the rave comments; I want to hear the criticism. Part of what I love about making movies is once they’re done, you can go to a movie theater anonymously and watch people watch your movie. I learn so much from that and I get so much from that experience.

Imagine stand-up comedians speaking to an empty room versus a room full of people. They’re going to get more out of doing it to a room full of people. On TV you normally have to give up that idea of showing your thing to a room full of people, but not on YouTube. With these comments, I suddenly feel like I’m back in a community of people watching my show, and I’m learning what they love and what they hate and what they’re thinking about.

HR: How does Impulse Season 2 move the story forward? What’s the biggest difference from the first season?

DL: Season 1 was fairly internal because it’s Henry coming to terms with her power and the trauma associated with it. Her superpower is forever connected to a really traumatic moment in her life and we really stayed fairly internal. In Season 2, we’re now taking the superpower out for a real test drive. We’re getting out of Reston more.

HR: Does that mean we’ll also meet more characters in the second season? Are you expanding the world of Impulse in that way?

DL: I have always been fascinated with the people that are close to the person with the power, as opposed to [just] the person with the power. Obviously, Maddie [Hasson] is a huge superstar and Henry is the heart of Impulse, but I’m probably a little bit of an outlier in the fact [that] I’m interested more in the people that are around Henry. I’m thinking, what’s it’s like to have a stepsister with a superpower? What’s it like to have a daughter with a superpower? What’s it’s like to have a classmate with a superpower?

I find those characters completely compelling. From the beginning of my career, since I first pitched The Bourne Identity to Universal and said I want to make this into a movie, I said what would it be like to save Jason Bourne? In Edge of Tomorrow, Emily Blunt’s character is really the hero of the movie. She’s the one trying to save the world, and she doesn’t have a superpower. Tom Cruise does. She needs to save the world but she’s got to work with this coward who has the superpower. It would be easier if she had the superpower.

When it comes to genre, I’m usually interested in the people close to the people with the superpower. Impulse was a chance to, because you have the canvas of TV landscape, really explore what it would be like if somebody near you developed a superpower.

Impulse
Photo: Impulse Season 2.. Craig Arnold and Tara Rosling.. Credit NBCUniversal /

HR: The best part of Impulse was how it took a hard look at sexual assault and opened up that conversation. Is that something that continues during Impulse season 2?

DL: Sexual assault is [at] the heart of Impulse. Our heroine develops her superpower to teleport while she’s being assaulted and critically wounds the high school basketball star. Sexual assault is one of these topics that society tends to shame the victim. No one’s ever ashamed of coming forward and saying someone broke into my car last night, but you can’t say the same about sexual assault. So I think when a show like Impulse puts sexual assault at the core of the show and normalizes it, it’s good for everybody. It takes the taboo off talking about it.

Lauren LeFranc, our showrunner, really opened my eyes to the issue in a way that maybe I didn’t understand before doing Impulse. Henry is going to be dealing with this for the rest of her life. She’s for sure going to be dealing with it during the rest of our television run…That being said her sister is dealing with issues of sexuality and we don’t shy away from that [either].

I feel like I’ve got an incredible partner in Lauren LeFranc, who just doesn’t shy away from dealing with subjects that other filmmakers, including myself, have been a bit squeamish to deal with. She joined the show after I shot the pilot; Lauren saw the pilot and said she wanted to come on as a showrunner and write the rest of the season and now she’s doing season 2. But she said something very unusual for someone joining a show where the pilot’s done.

Lauren came in as an outsider and said I like it, but I don’t love it. I want Doug to go back in and shoot the sexual assault scene because he shied away from really showing us the gory details of it. Which is true, because they made me uncomfortable, so I didn’t film them. She was like, I want to go back in and film it because if we’re going to deal with this, we gotta go 100 percent—and if Doug is being insecure about filming a sexual assault, we’re sort of furthering the problem society has of how it deals with sexual assault.

HR: There’s been a great development in how Impulse is available this season. Can you tell us about that?

DL: I am very excited about the format that YouTube has chosen for Impulse, which is that it’s free. There’s a commercial at the front and the show is free. I love that because it’s how I’m used to watching things on YouTube. I’m really glad YouTube has embraced their brand that things are free on YouTube for Impulse.

That being said, if you’re one of the people that doesn’t want to watch the commercial before your programming, you can subscribe to YouTube Premium and you get commercial-free [viewing] for everything. I just want the audience to understand that Impulse is now free like everything else on YouTube.

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Impulse Season 2 is streaming now exclusively on YouTube. You can watch the entire series free with advertisements, or upgrade to YouTube Premium for an ad-free experience.