Max original animated show Ten Year Old Tom follows a 10-year-old kid named Tom who often falls into insane situations as part of his everyday life going to elementary school. The cast includes the talents of Bryon Bowers, Edi Patterson, Gillian Jacobs, John Malkovich, and more.
Ten Year Old Tom's driving force is Steve Dildarian, who not only voices the main character but is also the show’s creator, having directed and written all the episodes.
It didn’t take long for the show to be renewed, and its second season is now set to debut on Max on Thursday, June 29.
Steve Dildarian on Ten Year Old Tom Season 2
In an exclusive interview with The Direct’s Russ Milheim, Ten Year Old Tom creator Steve Dildarian, who also voices the show’s leading character, spoke about the crazy second season set to hit Max on Thursday, June 29.
Dildarian revealed how when it came to his goal behind Season 2, he “really just wanted to do a deeper dive on all the characters:”
“I really just wanted to do a deeper dive on all the characters because we're lucky to have characters people really responded to. So in Season Two, I just wanted to learn more about them and go deeper into their personal lives. And I think in doing so, a lot of the jokes just resonate on a different level. Characters like, you know, season one, something like Dakota's mom, might have just represented the enemy, the parents who have it in for him.”
He then noted that “there’s many more examples:”
“Now, there's many more examples, like doing a personal favor for Tom but begrudgingly having him over into our home. There's just another level of intimacy and familiarity. You can go through the whole show that way. Rick, the neighbor, all of a sudden, we're getting to know him better. He's borrowing his boat. He's going into his living room. He's getting you know, divorce, we're learning all kinds of stuff. So I think across the board is wanting to get to know everyone better.”
So what's the process for brainstorming new stories? According to Dildarian, it all “usually starts with something that’s not crazy:”
“I mean, it usually starts with something that's not crazy. It starts with something pretty grounded. And it's kind of like, what's a normal, seemingly innocent kid-like thing he might be experiencing? And how do we throw in a corrupt grown-up take on it? So the starting point is usually very logical, very real. And even subtle.”
The show’s creator explained that “the craziness only comes from how [those not crazy situations can] go wrong:”
“The craziness only comes from how can that go wrong. How many left turns can it take by Tom just listening to people's advice and end up in that crazy place? So, that's almost just like the fun part of how do we start normal start in this benign place? And then, once a grown-up gets involved, we're off to the races. And let's see where that goes.”
With all of the crazy things that happen to Tom, it’s hard not to wonder if there’s ever been an idea that goes too far.
According to Dildarian, “once in a while, it happens,” but it’s hard to take things too far when lots of it is already happening in the real world:
“It's funny. Once in a while, it happens, but not much. Mostly because most of this stuff is happening. It's hard to--with the world we live in. It's hard to take things too far because that's actually going on... [there are even] worse things going on in the real world than what I write. So, it's almost never come up, to answer your question. We write things intentionally, trying to let his life get nightmarish and let the people really ruin it. And yeah, it's not that kind of thing.”
He added that no matter what, “hopefully [audiences] understand [all characters’] point of view on some level:”
“As far as likability goes, I take the characters seriously. And even though they're screwing up, I like them. And I, hopefully you, understand their point of view on some level. So I try not to dismiss them and write the kind of jokes that would be, 'Oh, that's too much.' Because hopefully, [with] these grown-up characters, there's a logic to why they think they're wrong. There's a logic at the heart of their intention. They're actually trying to do something decent and maybe even relatable to a lot of people. So with that as the starting point, things don't usually go too far. Because I'm trying to write it from a relatable point of view.”
Dildarian went on to praise the show’s expansive cast, drawing note to all of the side characters that crop up throughout the run, noting how “[they’ve] been lucky to get so many of these characters:”
“... We've been lucky to get so many of these characters like Uncle Bill that Brian Scolaro plays, the plumber that Tim Robinson does, Jason Schwartzman's character was very funny. Crossing Guard [played by] Steph Tola was hysterical. We had to do multiple roles [with her]. She played the motivational speaker's wife.”
He is excited to write for someone who “works so obviously and quickly,” but at the end of the day, there are too many great gems for him to specifically pick a favorite:
“...When something works so obviously and quickly, I definitely start to write to it cause someone like Steph or any of those people I just mentioned, they work in the way the show works, personalities that are bigger than my own, bigger and louder, more confident kind of steamrolling me. When we get into read it, it usually reveals itself quickly, where it's just funny watching them roll over me... I gotta get [Tola] back five more times. Yeah... There's too many. I don't want to do a disservice to the other actors because we're lucky to have an embarrassment of riches with who we got.”
When asked if he has any dream celebrity roles he’d like to put in the show, the creator admitted that he’s “not really thinking of any actors” when he writes, instead choosing to do his work “in a vacuum:”
“... I'm not really thinking of any actors... Usually. It starts with the writing kind of in a vacuum. And then, once that character is coming to life on the page, we throw names around. And with that, it's usually very first instinct driven. Like, I don't have to think for more than five minutes. But who would be good for this? Yeah. And usually, whatever comes out of that initial instinct, it's usually we either go for that person or that type of person.”
Dildarian made it clear that it's his “first instinct” that he trusts the most:
“And between our casting directors and producers, I probably had the most success with 'What's your first instinct? Who is this character?' So it's not like we're racking our brains trying to work backward and get a name and then plug them in somewhere. It's like the writing reveals itself... So it's usually just let the writing exist in a vacuum and then first instinct, who is this? And then we've been very lucky to actually get get a lot of those people.”
But if the show ever got made in live-action, has he ever considered who could bring Tom to life? Surprisingly, his answer is himself:
“The quick answer is myself. And because this is not a new conversation... it's something we've talked about. It's something where I've shot different things, different shorts, as an actor. And I've definitely gotten a lot of encouragement to do something like this live-action. Because any character I've ever written has always been an iteration of myself. And I haven't had a lot of success with other people doing it.”
Dildarian explained that he feels his animation is “the most pure true version of [his voice]:”
“Maybe that's why the animated shows have been working for me. So it's the most pure, true version of just my voice literally, with nothing diluting it. So if that ever happens, who knows? That may work. It may not. But my first instinct would be don't change anything. Let it be me.”
Does Ten Year Old Tom Season 2 Live Up to the First?
Having seen the second season in advance, The Direct can confirm that the next batch of episodes will live up to what came before.
For any who loved Season 1, it’s hard to see any one of those same people not enjoying these new installments just as much—if not more.
Hopefully, Ten Year Old Tom can live through Warner Bros.’ widely criticized string of tax write-offs. New CEO David Zaslav is still hard at work cutting down on Max’s streaming catalog to make money back for the company, a trend that started with the early cancelation of Batgirl.
With how expensive the series likely is to produce, hopefully, Tom will offer more than a few more crazy adventures for audiences to witness.
Ten Year Old Tom’s second season lands on Max on Thursday, June 29.