WARNING: This article contains minor spoilers for Chucky, which airs Tuesdays on SyFy and USA.
Back in 1988, Child’s Play, written by Don Mancini, hit theaters. It delivered a horror icon that would be beloved for decades to come. Chucky (Brad Dourif) is a Good Guy Doll with very bad intentions, coming to life, killing others, and having a violently fun time.
After the success of Child’s Play, the franchise spawned several sequels, a remake, and now a television series on SyFy. Chucky brings back the titular doll when an outcast teen, Jake (Zackary Arthur), finds him at a garage sale and brings him home, thus kickstarting a new nightmare. In honor of the series, which is airing new episodes Tuesdays on SyFy and USA at 10 PM, CBR sat in on a round table discussion with the writer who started it all.
Mancini was excited to bring Chucky to television, as there was more storytelling real estate. "We have more time to get you involved with these characters," Mancini said. "[These characters] seem on the face of it to be one thing, but then you find out a little more about them, and we start to peel the onion away."
One example Mancini gives of this sort of development is with Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind), one of the major bullies of Chucky. As the series progresses, audiences will see there is more to her than just a mean spirit. When Chucky eventually crosses her path, fans may feel more invested in her. In a series-long format, Syfy's Chucky is able to tackle social issues, including LGBTQ+ issues. "It's sort of interesting to do something with, for lack of a better term, a slight social mission or social statement, but to come at that through the lens of a horror character as well known as Chucky, particularly in that he has such a distinct, dark sense of humor," Mancini said. "One of my favorite dialogue exchanges in the show is when Chucky is reading Jake's diary... Jake is embarrassed, so Chucky says, 'I have a queer kid.' Jake is like, 'What, and you're cool with it?' And Chucky is like, 'Well, I'm not a monster.'"
Chucky connects directly to some themes explored earlier in The Child's Play franchise, as audiences have gotten to know Chucky's home life, his wife, and his child, who is gender fluid, as touched on in Seed of Chucky.
"As you say," Mancini says in response to an earlier remark about Chucky's personality, "[Chucky's] not a bigot. He's not homophobic. He's not racist. He's just a psychopath who doesn't discriminate and will kill anybody. Tiffany -- Jennifer Tilly -- had the line in Bride of Chucky, where she says, 'I'll kill anyone, but only sleep with someone I love.' I think that these are monsters who have a very human side, which I think is kind of fun, and I think is part of the reason why those characters have lasted in the culture as long as they have."
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To bring these issues and themes to life, Mancini was particularly excited to work in the world of television due to its hyper collaborative nature. "I love working with the various department heads and looking at the story through their specific lenses, whether it's costumes, or design, or photography," Mancini said. "I love doing that with the actors, and I always do this and did it with the kids on the show, where I invited them to make contributions to their characters."
Together, Mancini, the cast, and crew were able to tell not only a new chapter for Chucky but also one that connects directly to the past Child's Play movies. As Mancini mentioned, plot points from past films are directly addressed in Chucky. "We definitely do pick up the story threads that I left on multiple cliffhangers in Cult of Chucky," Mancini said. "I did that very deliberately, with the hope of setting up a television series because I knew that a television series, having eight hours and all this room, would allow me to go down these various avenues in a way that doing another 90-minute movie wouldn't allow us."
"We do find out what happens with Nica, who we left when we last saw her Cult. She was possessed by Chucky," Mancini said, confirming what was alluded to in the trailer. "The last we saw her/him is that she's kissing Tiffany and driving off in a snowstorm. One of the questions I wanted to pose there was -- and this is very on-brand for our franchise -- that suggests that Chucky is going on an adventure of sexual fluidity. What does that mean? That does connect on a story level with what's going on with our main character, Jake, who is gay and struggling with that and finding acceptance for that and finding love and all of that, so where we left Chucky wasn't an accident. I was putting him on the road of sexual exploration."
The threads go beyond Chucky's fluidity. Without getting too much into spoilers, Mancini talked about some of the other characters who are set to return to the series. "We spend a substantial amount of time with those characters, with Nica, Tiffany, Andy (Alex Vincent) and Kyle (Christine Elise)," Mancini said. "We last saw Andy, he was trapped in the asylum. We last saw Kyle, she was going to take care of the Chucky head that Andy had left to this cabin. Now, we pick up what's going on with their relationship as well."
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