Atlanta native, UGA grad Steve Yockey helms Netflix ‘Dead Boy Detectives’

He recently produced ‘The Flight Attendant’ and is an acclaimed playwright.
Jayden Revri as Charles Rowland (left) and George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne in episode 1 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

Jayden Revri as Charles Rowland (left) and George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne in episode 1 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

The darkly atmospheric, often comedic Netflix series “Dead Boy Detectives” is, in Atlanta native and co-showrunner Steve Yockey’s words, a bit like “‘The Hardy Boys’ on acid.”

“For anybody who has seen my plays, this is very much up my alley,” Yockey said in a recent Zoom interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Yockey is a University of Georgia grad who was an intern at Actor’s Express more than two decades ago. The company recently produced his bloody revenge thriller “Mercury.”

Based on the DC Comics of the same name, “Dead Boy Detectives” focuses on two teens, bookish Edwin (George Rexstrew) and gabbier Charles (Jayden Revri) who died decades apart but chose to stay on Earth, evade true death and help out other spirits as detectives. It is now available on Netflix.

“Their unfinished business is to help others finish their business,” Yockey said.

They team up with a live teen medium Crystal (Kassius Nelson) and Niko (Yuyu Kitamura), a cheery teen who can also see ghosts. The result: a quartet of “Scooby Doo”-style investigators.

The eight episodes of season one, he notes, have a deliberate psychedelic feel, growing darker by the episode.

“I wanted the show to have a sense of disorientation,” Yockey said. “Things turn upside down. There are unexpected dimensions and big falls where there shouldn’t be any falls. I like to keep it visually exciting.”

There is also a case of the week for them to solve so “it’s a procedural where you may want to take mushrooms before you watch,” Yockey said.

At the same time, he added, “the audience that watches ‘Stranger Things’ should get a kick out of this show. It’s YA but dealing with adult material.”

So far, early reviews have been positive. The Wrap calls it “an overstuffed delight.” The Hollywood Reporter says it has “an appealingly quirky lead cast and a cheeky sense of humor.” Variety welcomes “the relatable teen angst.”

Yockey first fell in love with “Dead Boy Detectives” in high school and rediscovered the comics as an adult while seeking comfort following an unspecified traumatic incident.

Steve Yockey's successful career has spanned writing for stage, film and television.

Credit: Photo by Maddie Deutch

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Credit: Photo by Maddie Deutch

“It explores regret, grief and life growing up through the lens of dead teenagers who will never experience those things in reality,” Yockey said. “It’s such a unique way to explore that subject matter. The thesis of the show is don’t wait until you’re staring death in the face to start living.”

While working as a producer on Max’s hit series “The Flight Attendant,” he felt “emboldened” to ask Warner Bros. Entertainment to buy the rights to “Dead Boy Detectives,” which is a spin-off of “The Sandman” franchise. Originally targeted for the streaming service Max, the show moved to Netflix, which carries “The Sandman” TV series, while season one was still in production.’

With Netflix’s even larger footprint, Yockey had no issues with the change. And he said the top brass gave him plenty of creative freedom.

“I think coming off of ‘Flight Attendant’ and the success of that show,” he said, “we didn’t have to fight to be weird and crazy. We were allowed be weird and crazy and that gives the show a real sense of identity.”

Briana Cuoco plays Jenny the Butcher on Netflix's "Dead Boy Detectives." NETFLIX


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Following “The Flight Attendant,” which was produced and led by “The Big Bang Theory” star Kaley Cuoco, he cast Kaley’s sister Briana in the role of Jenny the Butcher, the most prominent adult in “Dead Boy Detectives.” Briana had a recurring role on “The Flight Attendant.”

“She rolled with so many weird punches during the production of ‘The Flight Attendant’ and was a total pro,” Yockey said, “so when I was writing Jenny the Butcher, I thought that this would be great for Bri and she knocked it out of the park.”

This isn’t the first time Yockey has worked on a series featuring two young men solving supernatural cases. For three seasons, Yockey was a producer on the CW’s “Supernatural.”

“There’s no way that couldn’t inform this,” he said. “The biggest takeaway was the realization that whatever the case of the week is, it needs to tie back directly into a lesson one of the main characters can learn on their emotional journey.”


“Dead Boy Detectives,” available on Netflix