I read that you said Caprica is less about futuristic technology and more about ideas and emotions and relationships. What is it about sci-fi that makes it such a conducive forum for character-driven drama?
It allows you to express controversial ideas in a way that's safe for the audience to consider and debate. If you do an episode of House or Grey's Anatomy or ER in which tough issues are being discussed, you either find yourself in very hot water, very quickly, with the network or with the audience because inevitably, there's the impression that the show creators or the writers have taken a position. That can tend to lead to either a lot of oppression in terms of what mainstream television shows are willing to tackle, or when they do tackle them, they have to be Very Special Episodes and all points of view need to be serviced and the final solution has to, in some way, reflect all points of view. There's this tremendous emphasis on sociopolitical balance.
Whereas in science fiction, you don’t have to do any of that, because if you're talking about a robot instead of a stem cell or if you're talking about aborting your fetus that may or may not be entirely human, or if you're talking about torturing something that may not be entirely human, you can just talk about it. Your protagonist can take whatever position serves the story or serves the character. And while certainly there may be an uproar in terms of people saying, "Well, clearly, this is just a metaphor for X,Y or Z," at the end of the day, there's a safety net underneath the audience. It's more for the audience to be able to take it in and accept the story and allow themselves to consider the point of view of the protagonist or the antagonist or the storyteller without the heightened political emotions that go along with those kinds of stories.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
For the Writers Guild of America, West, Shira Gotshalk talks to one of the writers of the new US TV series Caprica, David Eick.