WGN America Orders Series Based on Slaves and Appalachian Outsiders
By Charles Webb on August 14, 2014
WGN America has ordered a pair of new original series: the first, about the Underground Railroad and the second following a family living off the grid in Appalachia. That’s some breadth and depth of the human experience right there.
The Salem and Manhattan network is continuing its streak of single-title series with the start of pre-production on Titans from playwright Peter Mattei, while setting up a writer’s room for Underground under series creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski. Both series are being developed by Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios.
Currently, no actors, writers, or director have been announced for either series.
Titans is planned as a 13-episode drama which follows the Farrell family, mountain folk who make their lives off the beaten path in Appalachia. Peter Tolan, Paul Giamatti, Dan Carey and Michael Wilmer are co-producing the series, which which will hopefully be more Winter’s Bone and less Hatfields & McCoys. The plan is for the one-hour drama to debut in 2015.
Underground is a little earlier in the development process, but will reportedly follow slaves, the people who help them, and slave catchers in the nineteenth century United States.
It’s been a while since slavery in America got any kind of long form treatment (or wasn’t used as part of the backdrop for some other drama). The trick here would be for the show to not fall into the trap of covering the slave experience from the perspective of whites or in relation to white folks’ drama (more 12 Years A Slave, less Glory).