Dropout’s Brennan Lee Mulligan on ‘Dimension 20’ Selling Out Madison Square Garden, Emmys Eligibility Issue and ‘Dungeons and Drag Queens’ Season 2

Hi, intrepid heroes! The season finale of indie streamer Dropout’s highly popular “Dungeons & Dragons” series “Dimension 20” drops Wednesday, bringing what creator and game master Brennan Lee Mulligan promises to be an epic conclusion to “Fantasy High: Junior Year.”

Ahead of the episode’s release on Dropout (which is also the name of the platform’s parent company that rebranded from College Humor last fall under CEO Sam Reich) Mulligan spoke with Variety about the success of the “Dimension 20” franchise, including the scheduled Jan. 24, 2025, live show’s almost-immediate sellout of Madison Square Garden last month, the fact the streaming series is not yet eligible to be submitted for an Emmy, and the next season of “Dimension 20’s” popular “Dungeons and Drag Queens” series.

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Let’s start with the big one: What was it like to sell out Madison Square Garden for the live show of “Dimension 20,” to the point where many fans were unable to get tickets because they were gone within a matter of hours?

To all of the incredible “Dimension 20” fans, all the people that have supported the show, I’ll never be able to communicate my level of gratitude. It’s a staggering thing. Someone asked me, how are you processing it? And I was like, I haven’t processed that I got hired by College Humor. I was a 17-year-old watching “Jake and Amir” videos. How do you process any of it? Maybe the reason that I make so many episodes of the show and am working as hard as I am is to just avoid feeling the feelings. If I ever slow down, I’ll have to feel the weight of how surreal this all has been.

The team is incredible. The number of people who have lent blood, sweat and tears to “Dimension 20” over the years is an enormous list of people. And when we were talking about the Garden, my first thing was making sure those people get their front row seats as we go on at MSG.

Seeing the enthusiasm and excitement for the show when tickets went live and [Dropout chief digital officer] Andrew Bridgman being like, “This is the amount of people that are in the queue before” — and it was some staggering number — it’s definitely a learning experience. What I’ll say to our fans is, we love you, we appreciate you, we’re going to make sure that live shows are a part of our repertoire going forward. We want to share this experience with as many of you as possible and learning from this first time to make sure that the experience is the best it can be getting to these live shows.

On the one hand, there’s the part of me that is the biggest cheerleader for the show, of the intrepid heroes, these cast members that I think are the funniest people on the goddamn planet, our incredible crew, so when we succeed in this way and sell out the theater, I’m like, “That’s goddamn right! Look at this cast, look at my crew! Look at these people, we’re celebrating them to the utmost!” And then there is the other part of me that is stunned and just going to try to make it as worthwhile for everybody as possible. I hope people know that I have the temperament that when good things happen, I am immediately filled with a sense of dread. And I go, we have to make this worthwhile for all these incredible people that have chosen to, in a vast world full of amazing things, share their time and effort and energy with us.

With the sellout of MSG, what does it feel like to return for more “Unsleeping City,” the NYC-set edition of “Dimension 20”?

It’s so nuts. It’s so nuts. “Unsleeping City” has a very dear place in my heart. And we ended the second season with the characters so wrapped up. And I was like “Oh, I’m a little sad. Like, there really isn’t a reason to go disturb those wonderful characters, who are all so happy.” But then we get the Garden, and I’m like, we have to!

“Dimension 20: Dungeons and Drag Queens”/Dropout
“Dimension 20: Dungeons and Drag Queens”/Dropout

Variety broke the news earlier this month that Dropout is unable to submit “Dimension 20” for this year’s Emmys, because it does not currently fit into the eligibility requirements the Television Academy has for any of its categories, but “Game Changer” and “Very Important People” are eligible. I know fans on social media are very upset about that, but I want to know what that has been like for you, just as a larger part of Dropout, to know that is such a beloved show and a huge priority for Dropout, it’s just not a fit in the traditional category system that exists now.

I think that there’s an element of looking at Dropout as a whole, and it’s all happened quite fast. A few years ago, I was going to be a cast member on a YouTube channel that put out a couple videos a week. So to ask if, in terms of my own emotions around “Dimension 20” not being eligible for that category, the fact that you are very kindly approaching that question of, how does that make you feel that you’re not eligible? My earnest response is, anyone thought we were eligible!?! What are you talking about? I know this is silly, but I’m just so happy to be here. I get to make a D&D show. I just mean this in a positive way, and it’s a split consciousness: The cast and crew of “Dimension 20” deserve all the flowers and accolades in the world. I am so proud of the work we do. I think we do exceptional work that I’m so proud of. The level of entitlement I would need to feel to be like, “And why isn’t our two-hour ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ show winning?” You will never catch me in that headspace. I will just never be that guy. We just sold out Madison Square Garden, I’m fully good. I don’t need any more praise, I don’t need any more than that. But I do want our cast and crew celebrated.

I know that’s a little bit of a split answer, but hopefully the emotional resonance of what I’m saying bears out. If there’s a world where the Academy sees a category that makes sense for “Dimension 20” to compete in, I will proudly submit our work that the incredible team at “Dimension 20” does on the show. I’ll be happy to. And I feel like I owe it to the crew and cast to fight for them in that regard, and I would be happy to do so. But as a person, as an individual, the winning looks like getting to tell stories with my friends. And so, in that sense, we’ve been winning for a long, long time.

The Television Academy does make adjustments to its rules almost every year at this point — so maybe soon it will be eligible.

No rush. Just for me, if you just want to superimpose a graphic on my head that just says, “Happy to be here,” that’s the vibe.

Looking ahead to the rest of the year, what do you have going on with “Dimension 20” plans — both for new seasons and for the MSG show — and other projects at Dropout?

As the workload increases, we have a ton of “Dimension 20” to shoot — incredibly, thankfully. We’re gearing up to do our second season of “Dungeons and Drag Queens” right now. I’m so excited for what we’ve got in store for that. MSG is coming up. We just concluded an amazing tour in the UK and Ireland with both “Dimension 20” and “Bigger,” my improv show with my wife Izzy Roland, who is a star! She just shot an independent feature called “Dead.” So there’s just this attitude of being grateful and looking at this moment where the larger industry is taking note of Dropout in a way that it never has before. And I’ve seen other instances in the industry writ large, where a little bit of sun starts to start shine on people, they bask in that sunlight. I think, temperamentally for me, the fact that the sun is out means it’s time to make hay, it’s time to get to work.

The interview has been edited and condensed.

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