HBO’s His Dark Materials, based on the Philip Pullman books, may be a high-concept fantasy series about a mysterious dust that connects all realities, but it’s not without its own connection to our world. As explained by star Lin-Manuel Miranda, it’s about people in authority abusing their power to control others... including taking children away from their parents.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Miranda (who plays Lee Scoresby) shared more about his personal fandom of His Dark Materials — something he previously mentioned during the show’s San Diego Comic-Con panel — having read the series “many times” and shared them with his wife while he was filming Mary Poppins Returns.
But here, the interviewer asked him about something different: how the books may have a “different impact” now than they did back then. Miranda’s response was stark and distressing.
“I wish that the images of children being separated from their parents didn’t echo what is currently happening in our country,” he said.
His Dark Materials has a timeless quality, taking place across countless strange worlds (with only one of them being our own), but that doesn’t mean its subject material doesn’t reflect what we’re going through in 2019.
The first book focuses on “The Gobblers,” boogeymen blamed for the disappearance of dozens of kids — namely orphans, gypsies and other children from disenfranchised groups. The gypsies take it upon themselves to find their lost children, because the theocratic and authoritarian government isn’t doing anything to stop it. Without giving too much away, let’s just say there’s a reason why.
Every parent fears having their child taken from them — it’s a universal horror. But it’s especially pertinent in the United States right now as reports continue to surface of immigrant children being forcibly separated from their parents at the border and placed with others without the parents’ consent.
There are still thousands of separated children and it’s having lasting impacts on these families. For example, a report from the Associated Press showed that the Trump administration is not prioritising reuniting parents with their children who’ve been given to “sponsors,” meaning foster or adoptive services.
Miranda also discussed the book’s message about the dangers of trying to control people’s bodies, another situation that continues to play out in our own government with the array of anti-abortion laws and other regulations designed to limit body autonomy. In short: It doesn’t matter what world or reality we’re in, it still manages to suck really bad.
His Dark Materials debuts on BBC November 4, and is set to appear on FOX Showcase in Australia.