Sometimes, I get incredibly depressed about what it’s actually possible to do or put on the air in the mainstream entertainment environment. Then, something like this happens:
ABC Studios has acquired the rights to the Oscar-nominated documentary film How to Survive a Plague for a possible ABC miniseries, which would be executive produced by the docu’s writer-director David France and producers Howard Gertler and John Lyons. The documentary revolves around controversial AIDS activists who infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time.
I don’t particularly expect this to get made. But that anyone would even consider making a mainstream television miniseries about AIDS activism is a sign of how far we’ve come from when you literally had to stage a die-in to get attention to a disease that was an obvious public health catastrophe. And maybe it’s a sign of what the apparent collapse of network television ratings will make possible. If networks (other than CBS) stop believing that they can pull mass audiences with bland fare, maybe they’ll go after narrow, passionate audiences instead. That development has kept alive shows like Parks and Recreation by accident, but I’d love to see what the networks come up with if they start thinking that way deliberately.