a closer look

What to Expect From The Purge TV Show

Photo: USA Network

Just two months after the release of The First Purge, television will get a Purge of its own. The premiere of USA’s The Purge this September marks the franchise’s official jump to the small screen, but according to creator James DeMonaco, the new format also required a somewhat new approach. “It’s not a punch in the face the way the movies were,” he recently told Vulture. “It is a slower burn, except one character is off and running from the first scene. We said, ‘Let’s at least have one that’s on a hot burner, and make sure it’s not boring.’”

At San Diego Comic-Con, Vulture sat down with DeMonaco and producer Jason Blum to talk about the structure of the upcoming series and what fans can expect from its ten-episode first season. They spilled some details on new characters, when the show takes place within the Purge timeline, and how they “surprisingly” didn’t need to scale down the franchise’s wild violence. Here’s everything we know about The Purge TV show.

When is the show set?

The Purge TV show happens between the first and second movies, giving it a shared timeline within the preexisting universe. But there’s a 16-year gap between Anarchy and Election Year, which means the show’s Purge will happen somewhere between the 7th and the 21st occurrence of the annual event. For the first time, though, flashbacks will take us beyond the immediate hours before and after a Purge night: DeMonaco says the show could look at events years before the Purge was implemented by the New Founding Fathers of America (so, before The First Purge), or days or weeks before a Purge night within the NFFA regime. In other words, we might see how Purge society functions the other 364 days each year, and more hours to tell the story means opportunities to find out what happens in hospitals or jails on Purge night. But don’t expect digital crimes — DeMonaco says that wouldn’t make for compelling TV.

Where is the show set?

DeMonaco would only say that it is based in “an American city.”

Did they lighten up the violence for TV?

“It’s pretty much the same. Shockingly,” Blum told us. Turns out you can get away with pretty much anything on cable these days! But as DeMonaco pointed out, the Purge franchise has always been more bombastically violent than it is gory, so Purge night definitely won’t be missing any of its Purge-y zest.

Will there be any crossover characters?

Vulture asked DeMonaco if fans could expect to see, for example, a young Senator Charlie Roan ascending the political ranks on her way to the presidential run of Election Year. Not for now, he said, before promising that they included plenty of Easter eggs. “What happens in The First Purge has a big effect on two of our main characters,” he explained. Will there be Staten Island survivors in the mix? We’ll see!

Who are the heroes this time?

The narrative will center around a handful of characters whose stories start out separate, but eventually converge. (“About five or six episodes in, we will slowly unveil the connection,” DeMonaco said.) A few of the actors were on hand at Comic-Con in San Diego to talk about their roles. Gabriel Chavarria will play Miguel, a U.S. Marine searching for his sister; Amanda Warren will play Jane, a white-collar professional who sees Purge night as an opportunity to right the wrongs she has endured; and Fiona Dourif will play Good Leader Tavis, a character she described as a “benevolent, passionate woman of faith who helps my disciples kill themselves on Purge night.” In the new trailer, you can also catch a glimpse of Hannah Emily Anderson as part of a well-heeled, NFFA-connected family.

Will the show be as aggressively topical?

As always, the Purge franchise draws inspiration from the social and political climate of the moment, but DeMonaco says having to fill ten hours of TV will make the show’s handling of issues more implicit than explicit. But that’s a relative statement, since this is still The Purge. “It’s inevitable that we are going to hit on a couple of hot-button current issues,” Warren said, adding that, “With Jane, we explore what happens in the American workforce. Inherently there is a meditation on race, class, politics, and gender that is being introduced.”

Will the New Founding Fathers be an obvious presence?

Everything about the Purge is under “the umbrella of the Founding Fathers,” DeMonaco explained, so “they’re always the main nemesis.” It won’t necessarily be an us-against-them battle like the one at the end of Election Year, but the trailer suggests that we’ll see how the elites and NFFA allies live in a Purge society.

Anything else to watch out for?

DeMonaco told us that the real fireworks erupt in the middle of the season: “Something happens in episodes four and five. It was the first idea I had for the whole thing that everyone wanted to cut, except for Jason and [producer] Sébastien Lemercier. Now it’s everyone’s favorite. Everyone’s gotta watch five and six. It’s very topical. And it’s in your face.”

What to Expect From The Purge TV Show