Here is what we know: The Purge, international franchise phenomenon, is coming to TV, to be aired on both USA and Syfy.
Here is what we do not know: What The Purge, as a TV show, will look like.
In 2016, writer and director of all three Purge films, James DeMonaco spoke to CinemaBlend about the show, at that time still in development: “ Not an anthology… I guess kind of an anthology—more of an interwoven anthology. They came to me about a TV show, my idea is that you do six or seven storylines. And I would kind of intercut them, use flashbacks.”
If you are not familiar with the concept of The Purge, please allow us to enlighten you. The Purge takes place in an alternate United States in which one night a year, all crimes (including murder, the intercom system helpfully reminds us) are legal. Whoooooo! Lock up your family because people in scary masks and day-glo face paint are going to get gruesome.Because what is society except the barely concealed desire to erect a massive guillotine on a city street and murder strangers indiscriminately?
ALANNA: I can see Syfy’s Purge series going one of two ways: a straight continuation of the most terrifying and socially relevant series about America’s attitude toward violence, wherein Ethan Hawke (and/or a poor man’s Ethan Hawke) leads us through a painfully slow 10 episodes of a single night of the Purge in, oh let’s say 2017. We’ll savor ever chainsaw rip, machine gun round and machete slice and, as DeMonaco teases, we’ll get flashbacks about each maniac character that explains what drove them to dress up like clowns and replace their sexual desires with murder.
DANA: It would definitely be a poor man’s Ethan Hawke. Just like, a generically handsome white guy who we will forget about completely after this show is over.
ALANNA: Or, is Syfy planning a reality TV series? I know this is going out on a limb, and probably unlikely to happen, but they’ve had great success with Face Off so really anything is possible. DeMonaco would play a Hunger Games-style game maker in this scenario.
DANA: So maybe this makes me a bad person, but I feel like I watch the Purge mostly for the gore and misery porn. It’s like Saw but fewer scary puppets. My only complaint with Purge: Election Year was they spent too much time on porn-star-glasses presidential candidate and not enough time on the people who made a giant guillotine in the streets.
So what I’m saying is, I want the entire show to be about the people who made the giant guillotine in the streets.
ALANNA: Or the girls who spent a small fortune on Christmas Lights to cover their entire car and bedazzle their machine guns.
DANA: OR! The mask industry! Maybe this will be a “How It’s Made”-style special about the guys who have to pump out hundreds of thousands of monster/Uncle Sam masks for the Purge every year. It’s like Black Friday for mask salesmen.
ALANNA: I’d really like to know how Congress rejiggered the gun law loop to allow teenagers to bedazzle AK-47s and/or pick them up at Party City.
DANA: In this universe, Party City sells pre-bedazzled AK-47s. I’m also curious about the clean up the following morning. Does the government hire corpse-sweepers? Or is it privatized and companies are bidding for clean up duty? I see how the Purge could be an economic boon.
An episode devoted to the lawyers who represent people who commit crimes that extended accidentally into 6:01 am or whenever the Purge ends. Like, you begin murdering someone, but they’re not quite dead yet, and then it’s morning and the person dies from their wounds. You gotta lawyer up. I would be a lawyer in Purge world.
ALANNA: The fact that the Purge films never address what happens when people commit crimes on any day except the Purge is a huge opportunity for this show. Do those people just get turned into prey on Purge night? What has happened to the Prison Industrial Complex?
DANA: Oh my god. Actual real idea, I will bet $100 that the TV show will follow someone out on Purge night to get revenge on someone who like, molested their child or something on a former Purge night and got away with it.
ALANNA: The movies focus almost exclusively on killing, I mean, yeah that’s pretty much one of the worst things you can do. But there are a whole slew of other crimes—like child molestation—that I’m genuinely afraid for this show to explore.
DANA: So many people download kiddie porn on Purge night 😦
ALANNA: On another note, I’m not entirely sure a society run by “New Founding Fathers” would hold free elections—just sayin’. Considering the standard organization of government in most dystopian futures—not democracy—I do not foresee the New Founding Fathers lasting in office longer than two terms if they continue maker their voter base Purge meat.
DANA: Politicians could so easily figure out how to rig the elections, and do it ON Purge day. Like, full on gerrymandering, taking illicit donations, soliciting foreign aid, etc. Like, is treason from elected officials allowed on Purge night too? Plus. Goldman Sachs guys are totally stealing like, billions of dollars electronically while the poor people are out murdering each other in the street.
ALANNA: I would like a sub-arc for season one to follow the wackadoo religious cults that have popped up in the Purge-verse like the one we saw in Election Year where the rich people all get together in the church to commit Viking-style blood sacrifice and wear their sunday best. They were great. I mean, not great, they were horrifying, but like I can see it.
DANA: Ok, I totally get why the Purge should be a TV show. There is SO MUCH GROUND TO COVER. I also want to see non-evil, totally normal people doing mini-crimes during the Purge. Like, big groups of people just smoking lots of weed and dropping acid and streaming bad movies.
Also, do you know who’s totally Purging? Those guys who engaged in consensual cannibalism. Remember that guy who wanted to eat a dude, and then found a dude on Craigslist who was into it? They’d Purge hardcore. There is so much weird sex stuff going on on Purge night.
ALANNA: But herein lies a big issue with the Purge-verse, it assumes that deep down everyone wants to do all the fucked up things. I mean, I buy that people have dark urges, but do you, Dana Schwartz, like want to kill and eat people? Tell the truth.
DANA: No but I do kind of want to do that thing of the dropping acid and streaming movies? I’ve never done acid. Maybe The Purge would give me the courage.
ALANNA: Lightning round time: All the things you’d legit do on Purge night. Me: There’s no way I’m going to admit to them all here, but let’s just say they’ll be small-ball, so don’t worry. Basically, I’d just do take care of some practical life matters, like student loans and *finding* a new iPhone.
DANA: Ok, but would you actually want to go out of your house on Purge night? I would be way too scared to be honest. For me, Purge night would just be like a fun sleepover, but with bolted windows and a gun by the door just in case. We’d drink wine and pretend humanity wasn’t a nightmare, but also maybe use like, Korean beauty products that aren’t legal in the US yet. I’d also try to cheat my credit cards somehow, but I feel like in the Purge-verse they’d have found a way to prevent that.
ALANNA: Ugh, you make a good point, I’d probably be way too terrified to physically go outside. Plus, I’m petite and lack upper body strength so I would not last long—I would definitely get rounded up and thrown into that laser-tag style sniper’s nest. In that case, if I were having a Purge sleepover, I’d try and break my Netflix account so I could watch all the British shows that haven’t made it to the US yet. And my protection weapon of choice would be a crossbow. And I’d order in like five Papa Johns and stiff the delivery guy.
So, the question remains, what will the Purge TV show be called? If it’s not an anthology series, it won’t have a different name ala American Horror Story each season. So, it’s got to be rad. Suggestions!
DANA: Will…. Will they just call it “The Purge”? Sometimes they do that when movies get made into TV shows.
ALANNA: No way, I’d be too mad. Syfy—don’t do that. Maybe it’ll just be by year. So, The Purge: 2018, and it’ll touch on real-life Florida-man style violent crimes that have happened that year, except we’ll get to see them play out on Purge night. “Based on True Events”
DANA: Okay I love that. I am officially on that team. UNLESS the whole gimmick is this Purge is being televised, and the TV crew is part of the show, Blair Witch style, and it’s called The Purge: Reality TV
ALANNA: Yeah, so that brings me back to my alternative theory, which is that Syfy is launching a new reality series called the Purge. And we.are.all.contestants. The age of Dystopian YA TV is here Dana. And I know there’s this Twitter out there that this girl writes called Dystopian YA Novel…um, Syfy doesn’t know about that right? Because there are years-worth of pilots in there.
DANA: Call me, SyFy.