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12 Things You Need To Know About The New "Wet Hot American Summer" Series

Director David Wain reveals to BuzzFeed News what's to come in the long-awaited Netflix series, and why this isn't the end.

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It's been nearly 15 years since Wet Hot American Summer, the summer camp comedy from director David Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter, was released, then panned, then bombed. But in the years that've followed, the film — which starred Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd, and Christopher Meloni, to name just a few — has earned a cult following so devout and so vocal, it's now getting revived as an eight-episode prequel miniseries on Netflix.

"I can't believe that it happened honestly and I'm so excited," Wain recently told BuzzFeed News. "It really has been truly a dream to return to the world of Wet Hot American Summer, which was, at the time of the original movie, such a labor of love. And to see that it has become a reality now is just awesome."

Fully titled Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, the miniseries brings back the original cast members as well as some huge newcomers to the world of Camp Firewood, from Chris Pine to Jon Hamm, Jason Schwartzman to Kristen Wiig, and Josh Charles to Michael Cera.

And it's really just too good to be true for Wain. "Thousands and thousands of movies get made at that budget level every day and most of them never see the light of day at all," he said wistfully. "And ours barely did and it could've just gone away, but it didn't."

Not even a little bit. Wet Hot is actually so important to those who love it that it's often used a barometer for potential significant others, something Wain takes as a huge compliment.

"I've heard the litmus test comment about the movie over the years, and I would say there's a large segment of the population, probably the vast majority, who watch and they're like, There's not a single funny moment in this movie, as a lot of the critics said when it first came out," he said. "I think that's probably the greatest compliment to say, 'This is how I decide who is cool or who shares my sensibility or sense of humor.' What more would one want as a filmmaker to know that that's the role that your work plays in someone's life?"

A years-overdue revival, of course.

Below, Wain reveals some important details about what fans of the original movie will see when First Day of Camp hits Netflix, how that incredible cast came back together again, and whether or not this is the end of Wet Hot.

1. This follow-up has been in the works for 15 years.

USA Films

"We started talking about it honestly as soon as we wrapped the shoot of the movie in the year 2000," Wain said with a laugh. Wain and Showalter continued to work on it piece by piece over the years. "By the time we really, really had in our heads what we wanted to do, then it kind of happened pretty fast," Wain continued. "We pitched it and by the time we got the full green light, we were very close to shooting it actually and we got together a really talented group of writers to put together this incredibly long script very quickly."

2. And it was going to be a movie.

"We originally thought of it as a movie, but as we started getting more serious about developing the material for it and the storylines, it became clear that we had much more than we can fit into a movie," Wain said. "We had so many characters that we didn't want to shortchange, so many storyline ideas we had... so instead of butchering down to an hour and a half, we were trying to think of how to expand it without having to turn it into a conventional TV series, which is not really what we wanted to do. So, as we looked around, we saw there was this new emerging option called Netflix, and it's the perfect place for this show."


3. The idea to make a prequel was there from the start.


Despite being filmed nearly 15 years after Wet Hot American Summer came out, First Day of Camp is set on the first day of camp in the summer of 1981, a couple months before the events of the film. It's an absurd concept to have actors play their slightly younger selves so many years later, but it's one that fits the world of Wet Hot. (Also, it works for Paul Rudd because he ages backwards.) "It was definitely an idea we had that we kept continuing to commit to more and more the more we thought about it and talked about it when people asked, just because it's so crazy," Wain said.

4. They weren’t going to do it if they couldn't get the whole cast back together.

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"At a certain point, we just decided we're going to get everybody back, no matter what. And we created a system where we could get everybody back," Wain said. "Before we even put one pen to paper, we got in touch with the entire cast and said, 'If we can pull this together, are you in?' And everyone said, 'Yeah!' And then obviously, logistically and scheduling wise, that's easier said than done, but we just [said to everyone], 'Make it your beeswax to be there. Whenever you can come, we'll figure it out.'"

5. Which wasn't hard because everyone stayed in touch.

"We've all stayed friends and been in touch, to varying degrees, with the actors, but to see everyone together, on the steps of the camp bunk, in those costumes, with hair and makeup and everything matching from that movie — which is now something that I more just think of as a movie that I'm a fan of — it was truly surreal," Wain said. "That's without question the word. That first day of shooting, we actually shot that scene where everyone's on the steps for the first staff meeting, and it was a little bit almost scary."

6. It’s a little bit like Orange Is the New Black

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"There are definitely some surprises. I think the backstory of how each character came to be where they are is, in some cases, not at all what you'd expect," Wain said. "We had fun doing that backwards puzzle, and I hope that our audience will enjoy recontextualizing or seeing the movie that they may know through a new lens."


7. Even though it's a prequel, you'll still see your favorite kid campers.

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There are a crop of new young actors in First Day of Camp, but when asked if some of the more memorable campers from the film — like Dungeons and Dragon master Keith (Gabriel Millman) and the uber mature Aaron (Gideon Jacobs) who helped Gail (Molly Shannon) get through her divorce — would make an appearance, Wain teased, "We found a different way to use the younger character actors [from the movie]."

8. We'll see the origins of Ben and McKinley.

One of the most surprisingly sweet storylines in Wet Hot was the relationship between Ben (Cooper) and McKinley (Michael Ian Black) who decided to come out by the end of the movie. And we'll get to see how it all began in First Day of Camp. "Definitely one of the elements of the series is the origin of their relationship," Wain said.

10. There will be Easter eggs.


"I think we made a real effort to not do retreads, like, Remember this? Here it is again! There's a lot of pitfalls in a sequel to that kind of thing," Wain noted. But of course there are some references to the film that he hopes will satisfy those who are fans of the source material — and Gene's (Christopher Meloni) wise can of mixed vegetables who taught him to be himself is one of them. "The better you know the original movie, the more you'll appreciate [the series]," Wain said.


11. That said, you don't need to have seen Wet Hot to get First Day of Camp.

"I really do think it stands on its own," Wain said. "You don't even have to have seen the original movie at all to enjoy the new series."

12. And this likely isn’t the end.

"There's definitely more stories," Wain said. Would it be a second season on Netflix? "Yeah, I think the world is our oyster," he replied. "There's a million stories and I don't know when, where, what, but I can't imagine there won't be more Wet Hot in some way."

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp launches on July 31 on Netflix.