At today’s The Contenders Emmys panel, Audience Network presented two series that emphasize the network’s willingness to take risks — Kingdom and You Me Her — both of which attempt to put a human face on extreme subject matter.
Kingdom stars Frank Grillo as a former MMA mixed martial arts fighter trying to keep his gym in business. Panel members Grillo, co-star Jonathan Tucker and creator/EP/showrunner Byron Balasco all stressed that the story paints an intimate portrait of a fractured family, and relies more on character than violence.
“It isn’t about fighting,” said Tucker. “Mixed martial arts is a conduit to the drama of the family.” Grillo compared the series to The Sopranos: “It wasn’t [interesting] because Tony (Soprano) was in the Mafia, it was what was going on in his personal life,” he said.
Balasco added that the series deals with a troubled family but is not relentlessly dark. He added that you don’t have to be an MMA fan to appreciate the show.
Meanwhile, You Me Her seeks to introduce the word “polyamory” into the national vocabulary. Created by John Scott Shepherd and inspired by a Playboy magazine article, the story examines the love affair between two women and a man.
Appearing on the panel with cast members Rachel Blanchard and Priscilla Faia, Shepherd said the show attempts to show such a relationship from a realistic perspective, showing ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. He said the audience should be able to imagine themselves caught in such a dilemma.
He called the series as part of a trend toward the “prestige half hour” in television. Shepherd also noted that while the series seeks to be naturalistic, “Season 2 is wild.”