The all-virtual summer Television Critics Association press tour is in week 2, and in addition to catching glimpses inside the homes of celebrities promoting returning and new shows, we’ve rounded out some of the best quotes, top news, and trailers from the event and other releases from the week’s biggest news in streaming and TV.
Not everything about Amazon’s adaptation of the comic book series The Boys is a direct translation. Case in point: You’re the Worst star Aya Cash joins the second season as Stormfront, a character who in the comics is described as a male neo-Nazi.
Executive producer and showrunner Eric Kripke (Supernatural) told journalists that this change was two-fold: The first, he said is because they wanted to create an antagonist to Anthony Starr’s villain, Homelander, and that “his worst nightmare would be a strong woman who wasn’t afraid of him and proceeded to steal his spotlight. I think that would hurt him way more than if it were a male character, because he has a gaping hole of insecurity.”
The second was more of a commentary on modern society.
“Stormfront … has certain hateful ideologies,” Kripke said. “And the truth is there’s a lot of hate and negative thought these days, if you look online, that is packaged in really slick social media, attractive ways. And, you know, it’s not like old dudes with crewcuts in the 1960s news reels anymore. It’s a very real and slick and charming people that are trying to — young people who are trying to hook in a new generation, and we sort of wanted to reflect how insidious that is.”
Cash said she trained for two months for the part.
The Boys returns to Amazon Prime Video on September 4.
More from Amazon this week:
Lovecraft Country, creator Misha Green’s upcoming adaptation of the Matt Ruff horror novel, has plenty to show in the way of blood-thirsty demons and sci-fi beings. Out August 16, it also shows evil that is all too real.
“I think that the monsters are a metaphor for the racism that’s kind of always been through America and even globally,” Green told journalists of her series that’s set during the Jim Crow era. “And I think that, for me, genre works best when it is the metaphor on top of the real-life emotions that you explore in the real-life problems. And I think that that was one of the things that was exciting to me about Matt Ruff’s book, is that he blended that very well, and we wanted to really honor that as we did the TV series.”
Jurnee Smollett, who plays female lead Leti Dandridge in the show, added that “the story is so ancestral.”
“Our heroes essentially are going on a quest to bring down white supremacy,” she said. “And we are still on that quest today in 2020 as Black Americans. Because racism is such a demonic spirit, you know, it’s something that we are still fighting off.”
Like Green’s previous series, WGN’s Underground, the show also makes use of popular music and culture, be it a Cardi B song or the theme song to The Jeffersons. Green says she likes to use “modern music to bridge time; to take kind of a period piece off the wall [so that] it’s not a portrait anymore that you’re stepping into.”
In other WarnerMedia news:
Coming to AMC+, the streaming service associated with AMC Networks, is the bloody, violent (or is it bloody violent?) British crime drama Gangs Of London. Co-created by Gareth Evans — who is best known for The Raid action movies — and Matt Flannery, it tells the story of feuding international crime families. And if that makes you think of a certain group of New Jersey hustlers, you’re not alone.
“I think all crime television and film will have had something of a sort of influence on us,” Evans told journalists. “I tend to take more from Asian cinema, quite honest … But for sure, I mean like you know, we’re all fans of The Sopranos, we’re all fans of Peaky Blinders, we’re all fans of the workspace of Scorsese or Coppola. We consume crime films, we consume everything that comes our way. So naturally, I think, when you make it something that fits within this genre, within this world, there will be influences.”
On October 1, the first three episodes of Gangs of London will hit AMC+, the company’s new premium subscription bundle available on Comcast and Dish Network/Sling, with additional episodes dropping weekly after that. The show will air on AMC next year.
More AMC Networks news and info:
(For more announced dates visit Rotten Tomatoes’ “TV Premiere Dates” calendar.)
Ratched, the flashy Ryan Murphy-produced prequel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, premieres September 18 on Netflix. It stars Sarah Paulson as the infamous castrating nurse made famous by Louise Fletcher in the Milos Forman movie.
“I thought about Louise Fletcher every day that we were shooting it,” Paulson said during the Ratched panel, “and I hope that in the coming season there will be some Louise Fletcher.”
Whether that’s a tease to some stunt casting (and Murphy does love to stunt cast), audiences should know that there are other differences between this production and the 1975 movie (or Ken Kesey’s novel). Filming took place in Big Sur instead of Oregon, and the series is set in 1947 in Lucia, California. It also pays a good deal of homage to Alfred Hitchcock films.
“I think there is something about the moment; just immediately after World War II [when] so much economic hope and horizons being so wide for America at that point,” said Cynthia Nixon, who co-stars in the series as the politically savvy Gwendolyn Briggs. “I watched the series with my 17-year-old son, and he said one of the things that he loved the most about it was it was so frightening and creepy, but … it was sort of the antithesis of film noir. It wasn’t shadows. It wasn’t black and white. It was Technicolor.”
More from Netflix this week:
Hulu’s new dramedy Woke is based loosely on the life of cartoonist Keith Knight, who co-created the series. Premiering September 9, it stars New Girl’s Lamorne Morris as a rising artist in San Francisco who, after a traumatizing event, begins to see the injustice of the world.
To hear Knight tell it, the show might also give a voice to Black people who may have trouble fitting in the white male–dominated geek culture.
“The idea that alternative culture is white culture, I think that is just a mirage,” Knight tells journalists. “I think the true punk culture, the true rock culture, the true — American culture is Black culture … And if you even scrape the surface of the history of this country, you will see that Black people have had a part in everything, not just music.”
An example? Knight, who is a hockey fan, says “I just found out that like, modern hockey was like — hockey transformed by the grandkids of slaves that emigrated up to Canada.”
More Hulu news:
Documentary Feels Good Man looks at the how cartoonist Matt Furie’s drawing of a smiling green frog unintentionally became a symbol for hate on the Internet.
“This is something that has never happened before,” director Arthur Jones told journalists. “The Anti-Defamation League never has declared a meme a hate symbol before. It has never declared a copyrighted character a hate symbol before.”
He says it was “a process” for Furie, who participated in the film, “to figure out how to handle this. He tried to handle that via his artistic community first. Then he tried to find a set of lawyers to collaborate with to enforce the copyright in a way that he felt was right for him. While he’s doing this, he’s an artist; he’s starting a family — there’s a lot of stuff going on.”
Feels Good Man will air on October 19 as part of PBS’ Independent Lens series.
Journalists caught glimpses of lots of celebrities’ houses through this all-virtual press tour. But only one panel streamed from inside a bat cave: bat scientist Kendra Phelps and epidemiologist Chris Golden introduced us to some new friends while speaking on the panel for National Geographic’s upcoming documentary, Virus Hunters.
Airing November 1 to be a companion piece to that month’s issue of the magazine, the special will tell “the stories of those heroic experts on the frontlines who are racing to identify the chain of events that could cause the next global pandemic,” said Nat Geo Senior Vice President of Communications Chris Albert, who introduced the panel.
“Virus Hunters will aim to offer solutions, and some of those could include the work that Kendra and Jim [Desmond, a fellow panelist and a wildlife veterinarian] are doing where there is monitoring and surveillance of what is actually unfolding naturally within ecosystems,” Golden said. “I think it will beg the question of further policy- and decision-making that would lean on us to really view conservation as an important tool for public-health interventions.”