In the days after coronavirus started to hit, Contagion and Outbreak were two of the most popular movies on streaming services. It’s no surprise: People wanted answers and hope that things would turn out ok. The Stand might be about good overcoming evil, but this post-apocalyptic tale of a pandemic that’s killed 99 per cent of humanity feels anything but hopeful.
Vanity Fair had the first look at CBS All Access’ The Stand mini-series today. It’s of course based on the novel by Stephen King that focuses on a group of survivors after a human-made virus killed almost everyone on the planet. Some of them find themselves drawn to a demonic figure named Flagg (played by Alexander Skarsgård this time around), who sows fear and chaos, while others find themselves on the side of good, led by Mother Abigail (Whoopi Goldberg). It’s a story of biblical proportions, but one whose real-world comparison hits too close to home right now.
“It was very surreal, obviously, to start to realise that there was a creeping pandemic the way there was at the beginning of our show,” co-showrunner Benjamin Cavell said.
The article goes into detail about some of the changes the CBS mini-series has made from its source material, as well as the 1994 ABC mini-series that starred Molly Ringwald and Greg Sinise—beyond a new ending, written by King himself. According to Cavell, instead of being a bird’s eye view of an international disaster, the new Stand focuses on individual communities and people.
“King does this great thing that we made the conscious decision not to do, which is to go to the 10,000 foot view of what’s going on,” Cavell said. “That’s not a luxury that our people have. What does the apocalypse look like from the ground where you can’t see what’s happening other places, you can’t see what’s happening to other people, you can only see your subjective experience?”
You can check out some of the photos on Vanity Fair’s Instagram, which show many of the main characters—including Flagg and Mother Abigail, the otherworldly figures on opposite sides of the “final battle.”
The series starts in a world that’s already been devastated by the Captain Trips virus, which was unleashed thanks to a lab accident. We learn more about what happened through a series of flashbacks, but the focus is on where the characters are now after it’s all over. That might make it more palatable for audiences currently dealing with an actual global pandemic—and one that isn’t nearly as deadly as the fictional one in The Stand, though still incredibly dangerous—but getting audiences excited for a mini-series about a world devastated by disease is still a pretty tall ask. King said he honestly doesn’t know whether people will want to watch The Stand given everything we’re going through.
“When you hear reports that 100,000 or 240,000 people are going to die, you’ve got to take notice, and it is going to be bad. It’s bad right now,” King said. “It’s brought the economy to a complete stop. In a lot of ways, I mean, you see the pictures of Times Square or London, and you say, ‘It really is like The Stand.’”
The Stand has not been given a release date, but it’s expected to debut sometime this year.