Search form

‘Monsters at Work’ Season 2: A Jokester at an Existential Crossroads

The sophomore season finds Tylor Tuskmon at odds with his colleague Val, as his success in landing a laugh floor job means he must admit he’s no longer the ‘Scream King,’ until a company rival, Fear Co, tests his will with a new job offer; new episodes debut April 5 on Disney Channel, May 5 on Disney+.

In Pixar and Pete Docter’s 2001 Oscar-winning animated hit, Monsters, Inc., furry behemoth Sulley and spindly-armed cyclops Mike found a new way to garner energy production; not with the terrified screams of children, but with their laughter. By the end of film, the Monsters Incorporated factory had completely restructured their business model, which was explored further in the first season of Bobs Gannaway and Disney Branded Television’s animated series, Monsters at Work

But in Season 2 – releasing Friday, April 5 on Disney Channel and Sunday, May 5 on Disney+ – that new way to generate energy gets challenged. And by none other than Monsters at Work’s leading man Tylor Tuskmon, a Scare Major graduate from Monsters University.

“Our leads, Tylor and Val, at the end of Season 1, succeeded in getting their jobs on the laugh floor as the jokester and the jokester's assistant,” explains Kevin Deters, showrunner and executive producer for Season 2, previously known for his directorial work on Olaf's Frozen Adventure and the Prep & Landing shorts. “But, while we were developing this, we were in the middle of the pandemic. We were all just sitting on Zoom, and I thought, ‘Is this what it's all about? Should we just get in an RV and start driving somewhere?’ We were all dealing with this existential crisis, and I felt like our characters were at a similar crossroads. They'd been given this opportunity, but what if that opportunity ultimately wasn't what you thought it was? And everything that you thought was going to happen, didn't necessarily happen?”

Tylor, continuously failing to provide enough laughter power at Monsters Incorporated, faces further humiliation when he must admit to his Alma Mater that he’s no longer a Scream King, but a jokester. But circumstances dramatically shift when Tylor receives a job offer to put back on the scare suit and work at business rival Fear Co.

There are many parallels between Tylor’s character in the series and all the college students who went to school before the pandemic and graduated after the quarantine had taken place. COVID changed not only the number of opportunities that were available to graduating college students, but also the type of opportunities and the way the jobs would have to be performed. Majors and curriculum also changed drastically. Tylor’s story, having graduated as a Scare Major only to discover everything he learned in school was no longer being put into practice, hit close to home for story editor Colleen Evanson. 

“I'm an elder millennial and, over and over again, it feels like the rug gets taken out underneath us,” says Evanson, who is also a writer on Tiny Toons Looniversity. “Tylor is sort of a stand-in for our generation as a character who just feels lost. We also wanted to explore the idea that, if this guy was big and scary and he was good at that, why is he trying to be a jokester? Why go against something he’s naturally so talented at doing? So, we thought, ‘Let’s put that opportunity back on the table.’ Suddenly there's this real internal conflict. Should he choose to stay with his friends in a space that's a little harder to grow in and thrive? Or should he go back to the original goal, where he’s comfortable?”

Community versus individuality was also a topic the Monsters at Work team wanted to explore, where fighting for the greater good also meant fighting against the natural ambition to claim glory for oneself. 

It’s a concept many animators are familiar with, where the work of talented individuals gets overlooked by the fact that they are working in teams made up of hundreds of artists. Independent recognition is rare in a business that’s so collaborative. 

“That’s a really wonderful observation and it’s absolutely correct,” agrees Deters. “We're fortunate to be the ones being interviewed and promoting the show and there's a small group of us in the leadership roles who ultimately make the big decisions.”

Evanson adds, “I started out as an assistant to get into the writing space and was often somebody who was in the rooms, around the table, where the leaders were making the decisions, but was still one step away from really being a part of it. In this season, I suddenly had a seat at the table, and it was really cool to be able to take that space. But it was also important for me to remember that there are people behind me who are also listening and observing, with ideas of their own.”

And the truth is, as much as we’d all like time in the spotlight, there are tasks not meant to be done alone, like creating a TV series. 

“Taking on this leadership role for Season 2 was a daunting challenge,” admits Deters. “I knew the folks at Pixar, and Monsters, Inc was the first movie I took my oldest son to see. He’s now 23. So, this property holds fond, personal memories for me. It’s a beloved world with beloved characters and it’s like someone’s hired me to play with these very valuable action figures. I didn’t want to break anything.”

He continues, “That’s why you need help. It’s a weird analogy, but I’m from the Midwest and felt like this production was about navigating through thick woods to get to the clearing. But you have to rely on people to point things out, so you don’t fall in a hole or cross paths with a bear. That’s why I love the collaborative nature of animation. And everybody brings something valuable to the table, whether it’s recognized by the public or not. Hopefully, we did a good job of letting the crew invest themselves into the show.”

Thanks to the diligence of everyone on the team, despite so much of the production taking place over Zoom, Evanson says their team not only succeeded at their creative goals for the show’s new season, but actually completed much of the work in half the time it would have normally taken. 

“Kevin always said, ‘I know this isn’t the best way to have a room, but we’re just going to hold hands, knowing that this is the only way through it,’” shares Evanson. “And we found a system that worked for us, with programs that allowed us to share our screens so everyone could participate and go through the script and notes together. Our directors Shane Zalvin and Kay Ritter were really good about collaborating as they switched back and forth between episodes, with Stevie Wermers supervising. And we had writers like Joy Regullano who were absolute joke assassins and amazing character designers like Jeff Wagner and Jason McLean. We’re a team, but everybody has to execute their individual skill and put their best foot forward.”

The lesson here is that people – animators, directors, and monsters alike – are better together. Whether or not Tylor comes to that same conclusion has yet to be seen. Viewers will have to watch as the season unfolds. 

“We worked very hard to create a serialized story that has some great cliffhangers and some fun reveals and twists and turns in it,” says Deters. “Johnny ‘The Jaw’ Worthington III was, of course, a featured player in Monsters University and he plays an important role in Season 2. And there are plenty of other Easter eggs throughout. We thought of this season as one big movie, where the first three episodes are our Act One, episodes four to eight are Act Two, and so on. We brought in old characters and referenced things from the movies as the story called for it. My favorite moment I can’t talk about, but I’m excited for people to see it.”

Victoria Davis's picture

Victoria Davis is a full-time, freelance journalist and part-time Otaku with an affinity for all things anime. She's reported on numerous stories from activist news to entertainment. Find more about her work at