NBC’s new series Timeless follows a unlikely group of people who travel back in time to stop a mysterious criminal who steals a state-of-the-art time machine with the intent of destroying America by changing the past. Today at TCA, executive producers Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan told critics they had no intention of “sugarcoating” history and discussed why it was so important to cast female and African-American leads.
Abigail Spencer, Malcolm Barrett and Matt Lanter joined the creators on the panel to offer more insight on the upcoming series, which premieres October 3.
On the topic of historical accuracy, Kripke warned, “There will be a lot of race-related issues” for Barrett’s character. “We have to play it realistically. The show is a really visceral grounded attack on history, and we don’t sugarcoat it. The reality is he’s going to face all sorts of racism that will be specific to those particular periods.”
Kripke also spoke about casting an African-American and a woman as the leads.
“So much of history, as we know, is the history of rich white dudes, and yet there is so much untold history from a minority perspective and from a female prospective,” he said. “Because we’re really looking for a door in — not just telling the history that everyone has heard before but to tell exciting fresh history that isn’t dusty and isn’t a school lesson but is violent and exciting and very current. … It allows us to make commentary on issues that are happening today.”
As of now, the show functions for the most part in the past, Ryan said. “I think we want to establish the basic parameters of the show and then we’ll have fun trying to break the parameters in certain episodes,” he said. Ryan added that the uniqueness of the show came from the time-traveling aspect in exploring various events such as the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and Watergate. “Those things are the heart and core of our show — I don’t want to do anything that would abandon that.”
When asked about how far in the past the show will go, Ryan said, “I don’t think we’re going to see the building of the pyramids” or “Greek mythology.” He did say the furthest the travelers have gone so far is the 1750s during the French and Indian War.