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Superheroes have slowly but surely taken over the small screen in recent years, but the narrative seems poised to change in a significant way with Damon Lindelof's potential Watchmen _series at HBO. Much like how Alan Moore's original graphic novel disrupted traditional comic book narratives when it debuted back in the 1980s, the _Watchmen series could similarly change the way we view superhero television. Lindelof has described the in-development project as "dangerous," and that's apparently a vital quality to have because when reflecting these tumultuous times. Lindelof explained:
Watchmen --- it was dangerous. And you can't be dangerous for dangerous' sake, but the reason that I'm doing this is these are dangerous times, and we need dangerous shows.
If "Damon Lindelof saying dangerous" isn't a drinking game already, let's officially start that. In any case, saying that we live in a divisive era isn't a very divisive statement, and that's precisely why a serialized Watchmen series can work now more than ever. During Lindelof's appearance at Vulture Fest LA (via Vulture), he addressed the guiding principles of a Watchmen series and explained that the show has to feel appropriately edgy and reflective of our society. In the same way that literary adaptations like The Handmaid's Tale have taken older narratives and framed them in a more contemporary political lens, so too will Watchmen use the dystopian superhero world of 1985 to reflect our modern world, and whatever it will become in the next year or two.
Building off of this idea, Damon Lindelof continued and explained that now is the right time for a Watchmen TV series because the themes of the source material have only become more pronounced with the recent boom of superhero fiction. Lindelof said:
That comic was written in the mid-'80s. It is more timely now -- in 2018, 2019, whenever the show airs, if it airs -- that it needs to be told. For a superhero junkie, I've never done a superhero movie or a superhero TV show, and now is the time.
He's arguably not wrong on that point. Thematically speaking, much of Watchmen's most prominent themes center on the ideas of political corruption, societal unrest, nuclear paranoia, and the corruptibility of the "heroes" that protect us. Those concepts resonated quite literally when the book was originally published, but the sharp uptick in superhero fiction seen over the course of the last decade (coupled with some real-life political instability) has only made those topics more relevant, even though there are also more TV projects than ever tackling those same issues sans superheroes. Alan Moore is famously against adaptations of his work, but it's beginning to look like this "dangerous" TV show might honor his material in a major way.
Watchmen's TV debut, assuming the project gets ordered to series, would be expected to debut on HBO sometime in 2018 or 2019. Until then, check out CinemaBlend's fall TV premiere guide and our 2018 midseason premiere guide to see everything coming to the small screen over the next few months. You can also listen to The Cord Cutter Podcast to hear everything that we have to say about the world of streaming content.