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‘Outsiders’: Donald Trump Meets Shakespeare Meets Tarzan – TCA

Deadline logo Deadline 1/13/2017 Lisa de Moraes
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Introducing the cast and creators of Outsiders at TCA, WGN chief Matt Cherniss made a point of tying the drama series about conflict between a small Appalachian town and the Farrell clan of “outsiders,”  to the current political climate. Not that TV critics needed to be nudged to ask a Trumpocalypse question of any given panel at this year’s winter confab.

“The show is very rich in thematic ideas, like family and technology versus human interactions, and going off the grid and environment versus business,” EP Peter Tolan said, in answer to a critic’s request to “talk about the ways the show is speaking to this contemporary political moment.”

“Any number of news events fall directly into what we’ve created. People will kind of go, ‘You clearly got that from what is happening in the news’,” when, in fact, some of the storylines pre-dated the election. A story point in this coming season, in which the town decides to constrict the Farrells and build the fence around the mountain , was conceived about a month before Donald Trump unveiled his plan to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Tolan said.

Series creator/EP Peter Mattei described the series s a dramatization of “disenfranchized, unemployed desperate rural people who are angry, and they need jobs, and they need money and they’re angry at a group of people that have even less than they do, the Farrells.

“These two groups at war with each other. And at the top of it, benefiting from this… some corporate billionaires working with the state government. That’s a pretty decent metaphor for the whole country right now.”

“That really quieted everyone down,” he said as a depressed silence fell in the ballroom. 

Actor Ryan Hurst, however, livened things up, thankfully, when he spoke of the series having a “primal elegance.”

“If Tarzan and Shakespeare were put together, you’d have the Farrells,” he described, to the delight of critics.

“Romeo and Jane,” Tolan chimed in.

WGN America has set Tuesday, January 24, for the second-season debut of  Outsiders. This season, the Farrells are even more isolated than before, after the uneasy truce that had existed between the townspeople and the family ended, with Big Coal interests heading up the mountain.

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