Snowpiercer, like a lot of stories about ecological disaster and social stratification in the face of disaster, feels increasingly relevant as time goes on. The newest iteration of the story, in the form of TNT’s upcoming TV show, feels particularly well timed. And its showrunner hopes that timing turns out to be valuable.
In an interview with Variety, Graeme Manson, former showrunner of Orphan Black and the showrunner of the Snowpiercer TV show, shared his thoughts about the thematic importance of the show and how he worked to focus and highlight those themes in adapting from a feature film.
“Everybody feels like they did their piece to destroy the world and lose everyone and everything they ever knew,” Manson told Variety, about the characters of the show. “Most of the fears that are present in the show are things like migration, detention, immigration, privilege, and then climate change is just something that hangs over the whole show, and what hangs over every character is guilt. Everybody has that trauma within themselves.”
That trauma, and those big social concerns, hang heavy over what the show is trying to do, and defines its approach. As Manson explained, each episode of the first season has a different narrator, allowing Snowpiercer to go deep into drawing a broader, more complex picture not just of individual but of collective trauma. And that trauma, in turn, defines how the people on the train attempt to shape the future, which will become increasingly important as Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) follows a path that leads him inexorably toward revolution.
“The revolution will be threatened,” Manson said. “Conspiracy and secrets play heavily on the train, and misinformation, but what they are looking for is equal calories, fair representation. They’re attempting to write a constitution and we all know what that is. They’re attempting to revive democracy, and especially in these times, I think that is something important. It’s another one of those [areas] where the show rubs up against our current reality.”
Collective trauma and the messiness of governing during crisis? No, that doesn’t sound relevant to the present at all. Not… not at all.
Snowpiercer premieres May 25 on Netflix in Australia.