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Sometimes historical fiction puts a little more emphasis on the latter half of its title, taking liberties here and there and everywhere to paint the narrative it desires, even if something didn’t actually happen at all the way it’s depicted.
The creators of NBC’s Timeless have absolutely no intention of doing that. Producers of the show Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan told a crowd before them at their TCA panel today that they with all certainty will not “sugarcoat” actual events from the past, Deadline reports. Unlike so many historically-based series before them, Kripke and Ryan believe putting emphasis on hiring female and black actors will negate the common whitewashing other shows and films have done before them.
Timeless centers around a ragtag bunch who discover the ability to travel back in time; when they do so, they go back to stop a villain whose sole intention is to destroy the United States through a “butterfly effect”-like move. The three leads of the series–Malcolm Bennett, Matt Lanter, and Abigail Spencer–were also present with the EPs on the panel, and Kripke things to say regarding the importance of casting for diversity for Timeless, especially around Bennett, a black man named Rufus’s, character.
Said Kripke, “We have to play it realistically. The show is a really visceral grounded attack on history, and we don’t sugarcoat it. The reality is he’s going to face all sorts of racism that will be specific to those particular periods.”
Bigoted shots at minority or oppressed groups might not just be limited to black characters either. Along with Spencer, Sakina Jaffrey joins the cast as a fellow female presence for the show (she plays a detective on the series), and it’s likely that the women who may or may not travel back in time will also be subjected to the various breeds of sexism of the different time periods.
What’s important to the show-runners, however, is that the main voices of the show still belong to those without privilege.
“So much of history, as we know, is the history of rich white dudes, and yet there is so much untold history from a minority perspective and from a female prospective,” said Kripke.
He continued to say, “Because we’re really looking for a door in — not just telling the history that everyone has heard before but to tell exciting fresh history that isn’t dusty and isn’t a school lesson but is violent and exciting and very current. … It allows us to make commentary on issues that are happening today.”
Timeless premieres on NBC on October 3rd.