The Thirteen: New Fall TV!
The crisp feel of the night air, the return of school uniforms, and the promise of a new television season: these are indeed the things that will leave you Dancing in September. While various channels debut new series, and return to old ones, it is with joy that families and lonely spinsters of both genders sit down to enjoy the wonders of television. As ABC currently wobbles through yet another seasonal line up, someone has thought it brilliant to delve into the past, with a show called The Thirteen. For avowed ABC watchers, no this is not just picking up on The Nine four years later. Rather, it is a look at what would have happened if thirteen American colonies hadn't won the Revolutionary War against Britain. Besides for being a bad version of the Confederate States of America mockumentary, the show is already primed for critique and will likely disappoint viewers.
The Deadline.com report introducing this show begins with a question: "What if Americans had no Independence Day to Celebrate?" The answer is quite simple. The country would revel in Guy Fawkes Day- the holiday Britain celebrates because all they can celebrate is not being overthrown. All our Fourth of July references simply become the Fifth of November. It's not that hard to remember. The show centers around the idea that American colonies are still fighting the British for freedom. And, if you follow Biblical precedent, a war spanning over 200 years is not hard to believe.
Although it is not impossible to see how this could work, there are certain historical hiccups that cannot be glossed over, but I suspect that is the route most likely to be taken. The elephant in the room is race. In fact, it was the elephant in the room when the thirteen colonies came together to form a more perfect union, and America is still struggling to figure that one out. On the surface level, Britain appears to have done better. How the show will address men and women of African descent fighting in a contemporary context -presumably as freed people-will be interesting to watch. Additionally, it will be interesting to see how men and women of all the former British colonies living in the Americas are treated. Are they allies to the Queen or do they too want independence in their newly adopted home?
The international political standings will also be interesting. With no America stomping through the globe as leader of the free world, where does everyone fall into play? Perhaps this would be a great place to show through media the issues with the America-centric viewpoint of politics that fails to acknowledge the agency and free-will of other countries. But even as I say this, the idea that a primetime network show could be so forward thinking on the international front reveals itself as hilarious and ridiculous. Perhaps if it was imported from Canada. Oh, Canada.
Despite all of this, there is still the History concentrator inside of me, the girl who learned lessons through scripted television, that wants a show like this to succeed. With the correct angle, brilliant scripting, and talented actors, this could be an excellent foray that reflects deeper on current events with a little tinge of humor.
Check out this youtube series: Ask A Slave for a witty look at history.