The rape that sets off events at the heart of Amazon’s new series Hand Of God is not prominently dramatized at the outset, because it does not directly unhinge the town’s hard-living, law-bending judge, Pernell Harris (Ron Perlman), creator Ben Watkins told reporters at TCA this morning.
In the series, Harris, with a wife in the house and a call girl on the side, begins hearing God’s voice in his head when his son attempts suicide by shooting himself after the rape tears the family apart. It’s his son’s suicide attempt that causes Harris to suffer a mental breakdown and go all vigilante on the town.
“I wanted the trigger event to be something related to him,” and that was about his son, Watkins said, by way of answering a question as to why the rape is not shown. Watkins said he liked the irony that there already had been this traumatic event. That said, he acknowledged that the rape victim now has this “other burden to bear” that had been “imposed” on her, and the series also will track “how she would be able to stand up to that.”
Speaking thereof, Alona Tal, who plays Pernell’s doubly “burdened” daughter-in-law Jocelyn Harris, responded to the question as to why the rape is not seen onscreen by explaining: “Sadly, it doesn’t take much to put yourself in that position. … There are a lot of women around us have to endure that every day.”
Saying she did not “want to go too deep into rape culture,” which she called a “hot topic,” Tal noted her character was “building herself back up” and is “not a victim because she’s stronger than that” but is now “dealing with a lot more than just that one event that was done to her.”
There was, of course, the obligatory Asking of the Older Actors what it’s like to work for a streaming service after years working on broadcast TV and even cable which, these days, is getting lumped in as Old School in such discussion.
“This is the most exciting period I’ve ever seen in television and most exciting place to be if you’re a storyteller is television,” Perlman said. “Ten years from now it will all get f-cked up, but right now it’s a beautiful place. Right now I’m coming from the dream factory called FX,” the Sons Of Anarcht alum said, adding he was looking to see if “lightning could strike twice” and that working at Amazon has, to date, “been a love affair.”
Dana Delany, who’s character Amazon described as the judge’s “protective wife,” said the opportunity to work with director by Marc Forster — who is making his small-screen debut — and Perlman attracted her to the project. She also noted that when it comes to the old-school TV networks, “for women there is always that thinking on television of the ‘likability factor.’ That’s something Amazon has never mentioned” she said, happily, adding that journalists in the hall should not buy into the streaming services’ description of her character as “protective.” “I don’t think so,” she said.
Episodes become available September 4 in the U.S. UK, Austria and Germany on Amazon Prime.