Television Man by Aidan Morgan
The following column contains spoilers for Hunters. Consider your whole life spoiled if you read this thing.
**Content Bot 3000 Session: $prestigedrama$ Generator Engine initiated**
QUERY: Hello Content Bot. Please generate a [prestige television series] with a [recognizable style] about a [contemporary issue], but it’s a [period piece] anchored by one [A-list actor].
CONTENT BOT 3000: Please stand by… Processing. Processing. Processing. Content string generated: Hunters (Amazon Prime), a [Tarantinoesque] [grindhouse-style] series about [Nazi hunters] in [1970s era Manhattan] starring [Al Pacino]. Also Josh Radnor, because [why not].
QUERY: NICE. Is it just Pacino and Radnor hunting Nazis, or do we get a crazy assortment of ’70s grindhouse stereotypes to round up those pesky krautheads?
CB 3000: I calculate a 100 per cent chance that Hunters will contain a badass soul sister, a badass nun with a brogue and no time for shenanigans, a badass Asian-American war veteran, and a sweet couple played by Saul Rubinek and Carol Kane who turn out be [calculating adjective] badass.
QUERY: Cool. Cool cool cool. Can Josh Radnor sum up another character’s attractiveness by saying he wants to “Mazel her Tov” and “gefilte her fish?”
CB 3000: Processing request. Yes. Lines can be inserted into episode two.
QUERY: Wow, this sounds great. Hey, how about a flashy set of splash page intros straight out of 1998 for the characters?
CB 3000: Also present in episode two.
QUERY: Can Lena Olin and Dylan Baker play blood-chilling Nazi villains?
CB 3000: My software wouldn’t have it any other way.
QUERY: I have this great idea for an opening credits sequence. Like, all the good guys and bad guys are figures on a chessboard, and there’s this ominous music playing over it and the camera’s just pulling in on everyone and there are, like, crazy angles.
CB 3000: … Very prestige. Much metaphor.
QUERY: And the first Nazi villain they kill will be really into games, so we’ll have flashbacks to Auschwitz where he turns people into human chess pieces on a life-sized board. That’s super evil.
CB 3000: Historical search returns zero results. No such incident occurred.
QUERY: But we need to show how evil the Nazis were or people might think the show exploits suffering.
CB 3000: There is no need to fabricate gruesome scenes to demonstrate the evil of Nazis. The systematic murder of millions of Jews, Romanis, LGBTQ+ people and anyone the regime deemed deviant is irrefutable proof of their evil. You might say that creating fictional incidents of suffering only trivializes the horror that millions experienced.
QUERY: Or maybe we have a responsibility to portray that horror by introducing fictions inside the historical record so as not to exploit actual events and thereby cheapen the sufferings of actual people? For example, we won’t show real concentration camp tattoos because those numbers correspond to real people, and we should respect their experiences by not treading on the historical record.
CB 3000: I suppose I can see your point. As long as you don’t lean into the gruesomeness of—
QUERY: The human chess pieces have to kill each other.
CB 3000: I am not comfortable with this content string.