The hook for B.J. Novak’s new FX anthology series, The Premise, is built right into the name: 6 individual episodes, all built around a big, beefy idea designed to provoke controversy and interest in equal measures. Like, “What if your lousy sex tape managed to catch a moment of intense police brutality?” “What if the father of a mass shooting victim decided to join the world’s biggest gun lobby—and his co-workers started getting nervous about all the weapons he’s carrying around?” And, “What if it was, in fact, really all riding on this butt plug?”
All of these premises—especially the butt plug one, from the episode that is, per FX itself, titled “Butt Plug”—are featured prominently in the new trailer for the series, which also plays up the other major thing the show has going for it. I.e., this is one hell of a cast: Tracee Ellis Ross, Daniel Dae Kim, Lola Kirke, Ayo Edebiri, Jon Bernthal, and more all lend their talents to the half-hour installments, all of which have been either co-written or directed by Novak, working with folks like Kitao Sakurai, Jia Tolentino, and Darya Zhuk.
FX listed all six of the titular premises in a press release for the show this afternoon, and they all sound similarly provocative: A popstar offers to have sex with the class valedictorian of a high school, spurring a renewed interest in the students’ educations; a woman drives herself to madness trying to please an anonymous online commenter; a rich businessman offers his old school bully a chance at redemption, or maybe revenge, by asking him to pitch “a very specific product” to his board of directors. (That’s the butt plug one; you could tell, couldn’t you?) At the risk of being reductive, the whole thing feels a little Black Mirror, albeit if Black Mirror exclusively took place in a world at our exact level of technological development. (Hence, presumably, the tagline: “An anthology of now.”)
The Premise debuts, with “Social Justice Sex Tape” and the Bernthal-starring “Moment Of Silence,” on FX’s FX On Hulu brand on September 16.