‘The Boys Presents: Diabolical’ EP Simon Racioppa On Working With Andy Samberg And Steve Ahn On A Universally Relatable Story With “John And Sun-Hee”

When Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg asked Simon Racioppa if he was interested in creating a spinoff of The Boys, he jumped at the chance. The timeline was tight, less than a year to create eight episodes, but Racioppa was up for the challenge.

The Boys Presents: Diabolical is an Amazon Prime animated anthology series taking place in the universe of The Boys.The episode up for Emmy consideration “John and Sun-Hee” is written by Andy Samberg and directed by Steve Ahn. On a more serious note than some of the others, this episode follows John (Randall Duk Kim), a janitor at Vought, who steals a vial of Compound V in the hopes of saving his dying wife Sun-Hee (Youn Yuh-jung).

Each episode has a different writer, director, and style of animation to fit with the story, which Racioppa says didn’t seem like the smart choice at the time. However, he believes “John and Sun-Hee” would not have been nearly as powerful a story if they didn’t make that choice.

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DEADLINE: Was the series always planned to be different styles of animation for each episode?

SIMON RACIOPPA: That was a conversation we had early on. We knew we had 10 months to make this thing, so it would be way easier if we all used one style of animation, because then you only need one art director. You establish the style and then you have a lot of stuff to reuse. You can just use the same stuff over and over again, and that’s how most series work, right? That would’ve been the smart decision, but because we had these scripts working with all these different creators, and the stories were so different in terms of tone, we realized that if we do these all of the episodes in the same style, we will not be doing them as well as we could.

So we made that decision to kind of deal with it in the future. We were basically putting our future selves in trouble, because we’re like, “This will be a big problem. When everything comes back in post in a couple months we’re going to struggle with this, but let’s make the decision now.” When you’re getting scripts in from Justin Roiland, and you’re doing a Looney Tunes-style short, which is one we wanted to do with Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, and then we’re doing a very serious episode on cancer and loss with Andy Samdberg… They can’t really be the same style. They need to really use the strengths of animation and make them different styles. I think it was the right decision, even if it meant a lot of extra hours for everybody involved, myself included.

DEADLINE: Out of the eight episodes, why choose “John and Sun-Hee” for Emmy consideration?

RACIOPPA: One of the really nice things about seeing people’s responses to the series and reviews, both critical and audience related, is that everybody seemed to have a different episode as their favorite… and everyone also seemed to have a different episode as their least favorite. So, it kind of went across the board and I feel like that actually is a testament to the show, that we managed to make every episode have huge fans, and every episode some people can’t stand. That said, one of the episodes that I feel came out the best and just also came off the page in a way that I didn’t anticipate when we started working on it, was “John and Sun-Hee”.

The director Steve Ahn was really the one who lifted it and made it into his own. He had a personal experience with some of the subjects, not for himself but within his family, that spoke to him about the piece. It felt like that was a piece that I think everyone could relate to in a way that maybe some of the other episodes would be less likely to relate to. I also think it’s gorgeous. I mean, again, I would love to submit all of our episodes for consideration, but then they’d all be competing against each other and it would just be crazy. So, we did have to make some choices.

DEADLINE: Was that episode always going to be about Korean immigrants?

RACIOPPA: So that’s the crazy thing, it wasn’t. When I started working with Andy Samberg on the script, he pitched the idea for the episode, we’re like, “that’s a really cool idea.” It was so different than all of the other ideas that we were working on at the time. This is a mature story of loss and about life and how part of life is moving on and letting go… and you’re doing this all in 11 minutes. But we didn’t have any ethnicity applied to any of the characters at the time, we just knew they were an older couple who were going through this life changing event. When Steve came on he said, “I love this episode, it speaks to me. I had something similar happen to a loved one of mine, but I would love to make it Korean.” And, obviously, Andy’s not Korean, I’m not Korean, our supervising director Giancarlo [Volpe] also wasn’t Korean… But we were like, “we support this 100 percent.” So our job at that point was to just support Steve. We found a Korean animation studio, we cast two great Korean leads, Randall Duk Kim and Youn Yuh-jung, and we found an incredible Korean composer, Hyesu Weidmann, who did a score that makes me cry every time I hear it. So, that’s kind of how it became Korean and he just put that into it. But he brought that aspect to the script, which is again why I say it started in one place and it just surprised me and delighted me how much it changed and transformed and became something even better at the end, which is what you hope for whenever you’re writing or producing television.

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