Alan Ball [pictured right] is switching genres.
The True Blood showrunner is developing Wichita, an hourlong drama about a Kansas surgeon who inadvertently becomes the focal point of a contemporary political, cultural and ethical war.
Ball is set to executive produce the HBO project with writer Devin Friedman, the author behind the 2010 GQ article “Savior vs. Savior” about the late Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita, Kansas, doctor who was one of the few physicians who provided late-term abortions.
I read the Friedman piece to confirm what seemed obvious, that Wichita will be friendly toward abortion.
It was an interesting read, albeit indeed slanted pro-abortion, about the day Scott Roeder murdered Tiller. Friedman delved a bit into both their histories, frankly describing Tiller in spots, for instance:
George Tiller had been difficult to work with. He could be vain. He wore a floor-length mink coat sometimes. He was never mean, but – he was a fan of Star Trek – he could seem slightly Vulcan, confused by certain human characteristics but also fascinated by them. For a while there was a sign in his office that read GOLDEN RULE: THE ONE WITH THE GOLD MAKES THE RULES, and he didn’t consider how that might seem, a man who made his income by providing abortions. He was demanding and unforgiving of mistakes. It was worse when he was still drinking. He was more temperamental and unreliable.
Elsewhere Friedman described Tiller as “compassionate” and battling anger against pro-lifers by “struggling to listen to his better angels.”
In his article Friedman only described late-term abortions for “women whose health was at risk if the pregnancies were to be carried out” and abortions for “women who’d discovered that the fetus was so compromised, malformed, that it could not survive outside the womb without extraordinary medical intervention.” There was no mention of Tiller’s late-term rodeo, prom, or rock concert abortions, or his late-term abortions of underage girls.
So I expect Wichita will portray the lead character as flawed but likeable and the abortions he commits, the mothers, and reasons for abortions, sympathetically.
There can be no other reason Hollywood would take this topic on other than to persuade the culture in abortion’s favor. As was written on the pro-abortion Jezebel blog:
Think about it. Take Alan Ball’s focused development of richly drawn female characters – Brenda Chenowith alone! – then add in a seriously hot button contemporary issue of a woman’s control over her reproductive rights and the people who are pushing to make sure that women maintain these rights and you have a show that would not only be remarkable but could very well have an impact on those seeking to destroy a woman’s right to choose.
I know it may not happen, of course. But what if it did?
It wouldn’t be the first time that TV had the rare opportunity to change someone’s mind simply by taking an issue and making it painfully, inescapably human. And if there’s any issue that requires that right now, as soon as possible, it’s this one.
Kari Ann Rinker at RH Reality Check is hopeful but worried:
I have to say that while many of my other Wichita friends and acquaintances are excited about the development of a new drama inspired by Dr. Tiller’s life, I remain skeptical. Skeptical isn’t really the correct word…it feels just really surreal. His life wasn’t a tv show it was reality and how “realistic” will this show be?
Will it be as sensational as the writer’s other work, True Blood? I watch True Blood and there are many times I wonder why I’m watching it, as it has offended me [Warning: link graphic]. Will the writer create over the top abortion scenarios? Will he vilify our Doctor? Dr. Tiller himself was exposed to so many extremes in his life, no doubt that an HBO drama will certainly have a lot of dramatic material from which to choose.
It doesn’t seem to me to be a stretch at all for the producer of a series about vampires to produce a series about a late-term abortionist.