The Astronauts, Nickelodeon’s newest live-action series, premiers November 13, 2020. But, if you’re expecting a typical kids’ show featuring pre-teen hijinx, slapstick humor, and a laugh track—think again. Nickelodeon has made an active move to entertain the whole family with this series, not just the youngest members. Along with Imagine Kids+Family’s Ron Howard (Apollo 13), Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind), and Stephanie Sperber executive producing, the network has launched an ambitious out-of-this-world show unlike anything else on TV right now.
Check out the latest trailer, then meet the man who has created this new ground-breaking series.
Meet “The Captain”
The Astronauts depicts the drama that ensues when five untrained adolescents are accidentally launched into space. With survival their only option, the kids must assume their new roles as astronauts and brave harrowing tasks, as their parents rush to find a way to take control of the situation.
Daniel Knauf is the series creator, writer, and executive producer. Knauf has written and produced a host of other well-known movies and series, most notably HBO’s Carnivale. While adolescents in space seems a bit of a stretch from the supernatural and dark themes depicted in Carnivale, Knauf didn’t necessarily feel that way.
“It was something that I really wanted to do,” he tells Parentology. “I really wanted to tackle something that you could have multi-generations sitting on the sofa and enjoying it. Something that spoke to what we have in common as human beings regardless of race, sexual orientation, age—anything.”
The show focuses on the struggle and uncertainty faced by both the young astronauts and their parents trying to guide them home. Knauf is able to tackle the solemn situation while allowing the natural humor to shine through. He credits the focus on the young protagonists.
“There’s the aspect of kids where you’re putting fresh eyes on problems,” he explains. “Kids are going to have different solutions to problems than anything an adult would come up with.”
Real Struggles from Real Life
The Astronauts depicts the trials and triumphs of both the kids and their parents in a real, multi-faceted way. It also depicts children growing up into their own identities. Knauf cites his own experiences as a parent of five children as a creative influence on the show, and his goal to make it different from others on TV.
“When depicting family these days, there’s such an emphasis on dysfunction — and there’s a reason for that. It’s built-in conflict and often it’s just comedy gold,” he notes. “But I kind of wanted to take a step back and say, in reality, I don’t know many families actively are rooting for other people in their family to fail.”
The Astrounauts also gave Knauf a great opportunity to dramatize something seldom seen on television: “That whole process from the parents’ point of view and the kids’ of individuation. It’s a painful process.” This is something that resonates with viewers of all ages, not just kids coming of age. “It’s geared toward human beings and what we all share,” Knauf says.
The show also depicts a diverse group of children and parents. Knauf says that is both intentional and organic, created through the show’s diverse group of writers offering many different points of view. While that diversity is celebrated, Knauf also wanted to utilize the premise of the show to focus on how people can come together, no matter what their background.
“In a perilous situation, the things that separate you from the people that you’re relying on take a distant back seat to what you’ve got in common,” he says. “We share an ocean in common. We all admire courage. We all admire sacrifice. This transcends religion, it transcends race. One of the things I felt we could do with this show is to celebrate what we have in common.”
The Astronauts is one of Nickelodeon’s first endeavors to move toward programming that viewers of all ages can truly enjoy. Knauf believes that what he’s created will be just that. “Everybody has brought their best,” he says. “It’s been a really great experience—we’re doing something really special here.”
The Astronauts begins with a one-hour premiere on Nickelodeon, Friday November 13, 2020.
The Astronauts Nickelodeon — Sources