Five Things To Know Before Going Into The Purge TV Show

As the lazy summer sun slowly crawled its way into the sky and the good people of New Orleans rose to bring the bustling metropolis to life, a lonely Ted was wrenched from his sleep by the piercing lilts of his saccharine alarm. I was sober as the sunrise, a relatively new experience for me. I had spent the previous night boozelessly prowling the streets for adventure, aggressively proving to myself and the world that I was still capable of being fun. My journey through French and Bourbon street was electric. Live music filled my ears and the smell of fresh vomit my nostrils. This was my kind of town.

Unfortunately, my alcoholic tendency to plan my night around when the bar shuts down proved ineffective in this sleepless city. Bars don’t typically have clocks, so as the third drunken sorority sister sang “Hotel California” the bartender informed me that A) the bar was open 24 hours, and B) the time was 3:00 AM. This is why you charge your phone before going on adventures in strange cities. Hoofing it back to the hotel, I made it into my bed around 4.

Now I’m no mathematician, but a 4 AM bedtime and 8 AM wakeup call doesn’t add up to a lot of sleep. I oozed out of the bed and into my finest journalism shoes, but even the shiniest of new kicks couldn’t hide the fact that I was essentially a bowl of human exhaustion poured into a skin suit. I also was pretty unpleasant to be around, and not just because of the smell. Between the sweltering southern summer heat, lack of sleep, and every cell reminding me that I’d rather be drunk than doing this, I was ready for murder. Which was perfect, because I was on the way to visit the set for The Purge TV show.

Yes, little did I know, this was all just a clever way for my body to get me in the murder mindset. Way to go, Ted’s wanton irresponsibility! Much to my chagrin, the good people at USA and Syfy were doing their darndest to make sure I had a good time. Stupid network PR agents inviting me to check out the sets and interview the cast, ruining my quality pout.

It’s a lot of rambling to basically say that I didn’t go into checking out The Purge with rosy glasses. I don’t much care for the films (other than Election Year, which is the cinematic equivalent of the time you got so drunk in Mexico that you said “Fuck it” and finally tried launching fireworks out of your ass). I wasn’t too keen on taking the ride to set. I wasn’t in the mood to put on my happy face and ask the lovely people my stock questions. Even with all that in the way, what I saw got me excited for The Purge.

Despite my rambling intro, I want to keep this article as punchy as the franchise that it’s covering. I learned some interesting and unexpected stuff during my time in the land of catfish and booze. So I sat down, poured through my notes, and came up with the five things you need to know before strapping in for The Purge TV show.

1) Murder/Mystery In Equal Parts

One of the most common questions of the whole trip was, “How are you going to take these films and stretch it into a show?” And the answer is that they’re not. If you’re going into this expecting the same minute-by-minutes murder that you got from the movies, you’re going to be confused why all these people are talking instead of stabbing. Watching the first few episodes, you’ll be surprised with how much The Purge show pulls its punches. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of murder. But if the films were a Mike Tyson flurry of fists, the show is more a Floyd Mayweather defensive dance.

One of the first people I got to talk to was showrunner Tom Kelly, who had a bit to say on how the storytelling from the show would set itself apart,

“With the films, you only got so much time to introduce new plot points. The worldbuilding has to be done in small bites to make way for the action. In the show, we don’t have these constraints. We want to actually show you what this world is like, how these people got there, how they survive, but also how they just live in it. And we do it right. There’s a lot of small hints at the start that you’ll be dying to know as it goes on.”

Having seen the first three episodes, I have to say I agree. What’s going on, why these people are purging, and what dangers they face is just the jumping off point for a much larger web of questions and twists. It’s clear from the very start that there is a much larger world here that we only get to learn about one piece at a time. These unknowns are the most compelling part for me. I’m dying (or killing?) to know the stories behind Good Leader Tavis and the masked Joe.

There’s plenty of mystery to go around, too. Rather than focusing on a ragtag group of survivors just doing their best to make it through the night, The Purge show boasts a broad cast of characters all doing their best to make it through their own personal hell. From rich socialites reveling in their privilege to the frantic Miguel just hunting for his sister, it’s unclear yet if these characters even cross paths. We get to see the story from more perspectives, and really get a sense for the breadth and detail of this crazy world. Which leads me to my next point…

2) We All Got Reasons To Purge

I’ve always loved asking people, “If you were going to kill someone, how would you do it?” It’s a fun, safe way to let your murder-freak flag fly, with the added benefit of letting you know which of your friends you shouldn’t hang out with again. Now as I said in my first point, the format of the films only allowed for so much story to be shown on screen. Even the main protagonist of The Purge: Anarchy and Election Year just boiled down to, “dead family, law no help, am sad.” With the show, we can really get a feel for what would drive a person to kill.

With 10-episodes to tell their story, we have a lot more time to find out just why exactly our heroes decided to purge. To this end, the series will feature a number of flashbacks to illustrate our character’s lives before Purge Night. Each episode will focus on a different character, but not as the sole focus. We’ll still learn about what’s going on with the other characters even if they aren’t the focus that week. So don’t be expecting a The Purge procedural show. Although now that I think about it, that would be pretty awesome.

With the more diverse cast, we also have a lot more room to explore motivations. Jane, for example, doesn’t purge out of a desire to, “let out her sins.” She’s doing it for the specific reason of climbing the corporate ladder. She quickly learns that there are some lengths she might not want to go to for success.

With the expanded motivations also comes a far expanded world. Seeing things from different perspectives gives us a lens into how different classes of people experience Purge Night. The rich—with their debutante parties and detached relationship with the violence they cause—is something we’ve only seen in brief snippets before. Now, we get an intimate look into their lives with the characters of Rick and Jenna. Though full of fancy suits and finger foods, navigating their maze of social niceties might prove just as deadly as a night on the ravaged streets.

3) No One Is Safe

It’s still not clear whether The Purge will be an ongoing show or just an event series. If the show is popular, there’s a good chance we can see a Season 2. But that doesn’t mean that anyone is safe. From talking to the cast, it was clear that anyone and everyone is in the line of fire.

“From the very first episode, you’ll figure out pretty quick that stakes are high.” Fiona Dourif plays Good Leader Tavis on The Purge, one of the more enigmatic characters with a particularly unique relationship with the violence. “Towards the end of the first episode there’s a scene next to a bus that gives you a good picture of exactly what everyone is facing.”

Now I don’t want to lead you guys astray here. This isn’t The Walking Dead, and major characters don’t get knocked off in the first episode. And while none of the cast confirmed that they had been asked back for a second season, Tom Kelly stated that it wouldn’t be surprising if some returned for a Season 2. There is going to be some plot armor for characters like Miguel and Jane.

That doesn’t mean that they are out of danger, however. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, as the crazy cat murderer says. “Being dangerous doesn’t mean just being able to kill with your bare hands.” Lili Simmons plays Lila, a rich and beautiful young woman whose family hosts one of the decadent Purge Night parties. “The Purge means anything goes. We’ve previously seen that as a lot of murder. Murder is definitely a part of it, but there’s a lot more you can do. You don’t have to kill someone to ruin them.”

4) Anytown, USA

Though I started this article with a lengthy description of just where I was and how I felt before stepping onto the set, The Purge show itself doesn’t actually take place in any specific city. Tom Kelly had more to say on this:

“We wanted the show to take place at any time, any place. It doesn’t matter where you are from or who you are. We know that chronologically it takes place at some point in the future—about 10 years after the first purge—but it doesn’t feel like the sci-fi future. This could be happening today, outside your very door.”

When I later asked them why they made this creative decision, he elaborated:

“The stories we are trying to tell in the show are wildly different. The trials that Miguel are going to go through are not gonna look like the ones that Jane goes through. But there’s a uniting theme, that struggle in the face of this crazy world. They’re all just doing their best to cope, and figure out where they fit into everything. And maybe even benefit. For that, it’s important that the audience can see themselves in this world. Making it seem like this could be happening anywhere is important for that.”

Personally, I see myself naked and tied to the hood of a truck as a Mad Max style ornament. I don’t have very high self-confidence.

5) Money Can’t Buy Happiness, But It Can Buy Sweet Sets

So this last one is going to be a bit harder to quantify. As someone who has seen a fair amount of sets in my life, the magic of movie making is mostly lost on me. Once you realize that even the most professional looking show is just a bunch of Lincoln Logs and duct tape just a few inches off camera, the illusion is lost. So when I saw some of the crazy elaborate sets that The Purge had to offer, I was genuinely impressed.

There are two, in particular, I got to see that got me excited, one of which I can’t talk about. The second was a bar that serves in the show as neutral turf on Purge Night. Far from a locked down fortress, the bar is bustling with energy as guests are asked to check their weapons at the door and take a break from all the mayhem. Standing within the set, I couldn’t actually tell I wasn’t in a real bar. It’s a level of detail that could have easily been skimped on. And let’s be real, sets cost money. The fact that they put so much effort into making it look authentic is a real testament to their dedication to this show.


The Purge isn’t a concept I’ve ever felt was done proper justice in its cinematic form. Too short and filled with too much fluff, each film felt like it just scratched the surface of what this fascinating world would look like. With The Purge show, we are finally getting the chance to look into this world the way it deserves. It’s a show with something for everyone: murder, romance, scandal, mystery, and even more murder. Check out The Purge tonight, September 4th at 7 pm on sci-fi and USA. Stay tuned for when I have the full series review done as the series goes on.

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