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INTERVIEW: Showrunner Shion Takeuchi on Her New Netflix Series ‘Inside Job’

Conspiracy theories get the adult animation treatment in Takeuchi's new series.

Shion Takeuchi 'Inside Job'

With the success of shows like BoJack Horseman and Big Mouth, Netflix is quickly dominating the adult animation sphere. Their latest offering is Inside Job, which hails from the mind of Shion Takeuchi (Gravity Falls). Inside Job is a workplace comedy set in Cognito, Inc., a shadowy government organization that creates and manages global conspiracies, led by an Illimunati-style secret society.

The series centers on “anti-social tech genius” Reagan Ridley (Lizzy Caplan) who tries to manage her misfit team which includes drug-loving Dr. Andre Lee (Bobby Lee), oblivious yes man Brett Hand (Clark Duke), monster super-soldier Glenn Dolphman (John DiMaggio), fast-talking Head of Media Manipulation and Subliminal Messages Gigi (Tisha Campbell), psychic mushroom Magic Myc (Brett Gelman), and Reagan’s disgraced father Rand (Christian Slater).

Takeuchi, who created and showruns the series, had previously worked on Gravity Falls and Netflix’s Matt Groening series Disenchantment. She also worked for Pixar’s story department, where worked on Monsters University and Inside Out. Was talked to Takeuchi about conspiracy theories, animation, and procrastination.

Lizzy Caplan stars in Netflix's 'Inside Job'

Glenn Dolphman (John DiMaggio) and Reagan Ridley (Lizzy Caplan) in ‘Inside Job’. image: Netflix

THE MARY SUE: We live in a time where conspiracy theories have been adopted as fact, and followings like QAnon have lead to real threats. Was this series your way of processing the proliferation of these kinds of movements?

SHION TAKEUCHI: You know, I started developing this series before QAnon became such a cultural force, so to speak. But obviously something was in the air at the time, because people reacted to this unseen force and here we are. Over the course of making the show, absolutely. I use comedy to process difficult emotions, and with the world the way that it’s been, it’s certainly a way to explore these kinds of topics and the ridiculousness of them for me, to kind of poke through and feel like it’s all going to be okay.

TMS: Reagan is hyper-competent at her job, but is also very socially awkward and has trouble connecting with people. Meanwhile, Brett charms everyone but is fairly useless at his job. What inspired this dynamic?

ST: Reagan is loosely based on some of my personality and qualities and perspective on the material. And I think that I’m a little bit more well rounded than she is, and probably a little bit more personable! I think that people who often get into leadership roles are the people who excel at these certain kinds of exchanges with other people and so, what was interesting to me about Reagan is having someone hypercompetent and maybe not so adept in other areas.

Like what would happen if we got Elizabeth Warren for president? Would she have to have a Brett that shields her, that she deploys strategically to push forward her agenda? That sort of thing. And I’d say like, that comes from the part of my personality that doesn’t necessarily enjoy being the center of attention, but I do feel often like “ooh I wanna participate I have good ideas” and then just kind of getting people on board with stuff, that’s the challenge.

TMS: What drew you to animation as a medium?

ST: In high school I really liked making short films with friends, I loved drawing, and I knew I wanted to do something creative and what ended up happening was, I told my parents I wanted to go to art school, and they were like “we’ll pay for art school, but only if you actually apply yourself and figure out exactly what it is u wanna do.” I ended up doing a summer arts program, and I was going to do either film or illustration, and both of those were so popular that the classes filled up. I’m a terrible procrastinator, so to avoid my parents’ ire, I signed up for animation because it was kind of like both of them, and I ended up really loving it.

I went to Cal Arts where at the time a lot of my fellow classmates had long standing admiration of like, Disney’s Nine Old Men and lots of classical artists. But I think that I consumed different pop culture, so I didn’t necessarily know about all that Disney stuff, but I definitely have been a fan of animation for a long time, I watched The Simpsons growing up, I watched Miyazaki movies, Pixar movies were a monumental cultural force when I was the perfect age, so that’s kind of how I ended up in animation.

Inside Job premieres on October 22 on Netflix.

(image: Netflix)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.