LOS ANGELES •The creators of big Emmy winner Watchmen, a timely blend of superheroes and political satire that confronts racism in the United States, say they are proud to have spotlighted the nation’s historic traumas and modern-day injustices – as fans hope for a possible follow-up.
The HBO hit series, based on a seminal 1980s graphic novel, scooped up 11 Emmys at this year’s television equivalent of the Oscars, making it Sunday’s top honouree.
The show opens with the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, in which up to 300 people were killed when white mobs torched a black neighbourhood, but which many Americans have never heard of.
“When the show premiered back in October, that night the word ‘Watchmen’ was not trending on Twitter, but ‘Black Wall Street’ and ‘Tulsa massacre’ were,” creator Damon Lindelof told journalists after his Emmy wins.
“And it just showed you that people actually have a real hunger to find these missing pieces of history. You just have to find ways that are a little bit off the beaten path to tell them.”
The show is set in an alternate timeline created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in their Watchmen comics.
In this universe, superheroes are real, but many have turned out to be sociopathic far-right outlaws.
Featuring on Time magazine’s list of the 100 best modern Englishlanguage novels, the original book is widely hailed for bringing mainstream popularity and artistic credibility to the graphic novel form.
Race plays a central role throughout, not just in the pilot episode’s portrayal of the deadly destruction of “Black Wall Street” in Oklahoma.
One remarkable episode sees a young black New York cop struggle with blatant racism, surviving a near-lynching and confronting a secret Ku Klux Klan-style society operating within the metropolis’ police ranks.
The noirish 1930s flashback episode shot in black and white won cinematography, writing, sound editing and sound mixing prizes at this year’s Emmys.
Watchmen depicts white supremacists, police brutality and rows over mask-wearing – all subjects of intensely polarised debate in the US as the country gears up for November’s presidential election.
In the show’s present-day scenes, reparations paid to the families of Tulsa massacre victims have galvanised a white supremacist group, which is furious at the government’s support for minorities and bent on triggering a race war.
The show’s Emmy wins came in the increasingly prestigious limited series category, which is intended for standalone miniseries.
But a sequel of sorts has not been categorically ruled out.
Mr Lindelof said on Sunday that he “invited any other artist who wants to take the baton – I’ll teach them everything that I know”.
The showrunner added that he personally found it “so much more special” to end after nine episodes, and that he was “so much more excited about seeing what someone else does with it”.
Noting that “someone else created” the original Watchmen, he added: “It would feel like a huge betrayal of winning limited series to come back and say, well, it was only limited series dot dot dot…”
Asked about her own possible involvement in a follow-up, Regina King, who clinched Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series for her role as a policewoman, said there “have been no conversations” – but that she would want to jump in if Mr Lindelof returned.
“We’re coming to a close of this chapter of the Watchmen series, as it is now,” she said.
“And it is bittersweet, it’s emotional and I’m just trying to remain in the moment.”
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