The new FX thriller series Class of ’09 is notably set in three different time periods: The past (2009), the present (2023), and then the future (2034). But when its creator was developing the idea, he originally thought about going forward a few extra years. “The future was actually further,” executive producer Tom Rob Smith (London Spy, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story) tells Consequence. “We pulled it rather closer to the present because AI is much more alive as a technology. And now it’s become a phenomenon — we realized we didn’t have to kick it 20 years into the future. We could set it much closer.”
The three different time periods offer the viewer a unique point-of-view on the lives of FBI agents Poet (Kate Mara), Tayo (Brian Tyree Henry), Hour (Sepideh Moafi), Lennix (Brian J. Smith), and Murphy (Jake McDorman); the series intercuts between them beginning their careers as Quantico cadets, working in the present as agents, and then, in the future, grappling with the ramifications of the advanced crime-predicting technology now assisting their investigations.
Says Sepideh Moafi, “I was haunted by certain themes that are explored about identity, about the consequences of our actions and the way that these things sort of manifest throughout our lives. How certain decisions that we make impact things, maybe not in that moment, but decades down the road. And, really, this whole idea of what is too much with technology — where do we draw the line?”
With some help from hair, makeup, wardrobe, and (in the case of Poet) a bionic eye, the actors play their characters across all three time periods. “You don’t usually get that opportunity, for so many episodes, to actually get to play in different timelines,” says Kate Mara. “You really get to explore the different emotions that your character goes through and the different relationships between the other characters — and how those evolve and how they grow and change.”
Understandably, the cast all had preferences as to which period was their favorite. “My first answer was I really liked the past timeline, which is true,” Mara says. “But mainly because my character is sort of her most… I don’t wanna say naive, but like wide-eyed…”
“Pure, hopeful and innocent,” supplies Moafi.
“Totally. Most pure is for sure correct,” Mara agrees. “And I love being able to play the first emotions of a relationship, not just romantic relationships, but any relationship that you’re first exploring as friends. Even the relationships between us and our teachers our instructors at Quantico — all of that. I always find that really fun as an actor. But I also really did like playing the present day as well, because I really enjoyed that aspect of where Poet is, in her life. And it’s a little bit darker, a little bit more difficult for her emotionally.”