Lauren LeFranc (‘Impulse’ showrunner) on dealing with sexual assault and trauma in a genre series [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Lauren LeFranc reveals that “Impulse” got its start when director Doug Liman met with YouTube to try and right a cinematic wrong. According to LeFranc, he said that his 2007 science-fiction film “Jumper” was “the only movie that I’ve never really been happy with, and I think I can do better.” He had intended it to be “a coming-of-age story, and it became something different from the studio.” This new series, on which LeFranc serves as showrunner, was an opportunity to tell the story the way it was meant to be. Watch our exclusive video interview with LeFranc above.

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Based on the book series by Steven Gould, “Impulse” is a production from Hypnotic and UPC, centering on Henrietta “Henry” Coles (Maddie Hasson), a teenager who discovers she possesses powers of teleportation. A veteran of shows like “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Hemlock Grove,” LeFranc had experience with such sci-fi and fantasy tropes and was brought onto the show after the pilot, which was directed by Liman.

“I’ve worked on a lot of genre shows,” she explains, “and I didn’t want this to feel like other things I’d worked on.” LeFranc is more interested “in telling grounded character drama stories.” What mattered most “is that you emotionally connect with the characters and what they are experiencing. Then the genre elements can be flair for that.”

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Henrietta’s teleportation powers “are all based on her emotion, and what she’s going through. It’s a fight-or-flight mechanism for her. And so it was important to ground it” in circumstances that are “tangible.” She first learns about her powers, in fact, from an attempted sexual assault, which also makes this a show that “deals with trauma.”

This plot point was made possible by a major change from the book and from Liman’s original film: the main character morphed from a man (David Rice, played by Hayden Christiansen on the big screen) into Henrietta Coles. “It was a bit of a fresh start as a concept,” says LeFranc. “A lot of shows have male leads. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you’ve seen a lot of that. It’s very rare to see a flawed female character at the heart of a show who’s angry, and has a right to be angry, and who’s emotionally going through a lot of different things.”

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