‘The Hurt Locker’/’Zero Dark Thirty’ Writer Mark Boal Is Making the Inevitable 2016 Election TV Series


Many of us are still reeling — and won’t stop reeling any time soon — from the 2016 election and its disturbing and chaotic fallout. But now, amidst all this, we’ll get the chance to watch it happen all over again, bit by bit! (Apologies if that was the verbal equivalent of opening a package to find a re-gifted square of toilet paper.) According to the Hollywood Reporter, The Hurt Locker/Zero Dark Thirty writer Mark Boal has re-teamed with collaborator/Annapurna founder Megan Ellison to create an eight-to-ten hour TV drama “event series” about the 2016 election.

Though election/post-election/administration nausea feels like it’s somewhat necessarily pervading all forms of art — because art that doesn’t somehow, even in the most abstract terms, address the dire state of things risks tone-deafness — there’s a part of me that wonders if re-watching something so directly about all of this, in dramatized narrative form, is the most palatable option. And in other hands, this might even feel like a sinister money grab, perpetuating the attention-desperate vibes of the current administration/president whose very fame was, itself, bolstered by a tawdry TV trend.

But then, Mark Boal’s writing has been far more astute, nuanced, and detail-oriented than most politically-themed film or television shows. (In part because of the high standard he’s set for himself, Zero Dark Thirty’s portrayal of the United States’ usage of torture caught fire from people who feared the film made it seem justified — though I’d argue, as others also have, that the effect of those scenes is quite the opposite.)

That kind of nuance has a lot to do with former journalist Boal’s thorough research process, and for the series, Hugo Lindgren (formerly of the New York Times Magazine and The Hollywood Reporter) is assembling a group of investigative reporters to contribute to Boal’s scripts. Given the speed with which current events become historical fiction nowadays, it was inevitable that we’d soon be getting a TV series or film about the election. A Mark Boal project seems like a best-case scenario for such a series.