I read about the show Kings in a New York Times profile of NBC’s under performing programming manager Ben Silverman. The premise, a contemporary update of the Biblical story of David, sounded interesting and I haven’t watched a new tv series since Heroes started sucking. The first five episodes are on Hulu, and the sixth doesn’t come on until June 14th. I must convince I’ve watched them all and have been sucked well in.
The show takes place in a parallel world in which the major powers are still monarchies. In the Kingdom of Bilboa, we have King Silas who united the country and the soldier David who saved Silas’s son in combat (from a Goliath tank, a little contrived I know). Lurking in the background is mystical-negro stereotype Reverend Samuels.The show follows the general trends of the Biblical story, the question of who will rule the kingdom once God no longer favors Silas. What makes the show different and worth watching are the subtle shifts to underlying assumptions we make while watching TV.
In Kings, the monarchy has to contend with the paparazzi and the exercise of power at the same time. Silas can punch advisers in the face in front of citizens, and no one says shit. It also makes his political circles more permeable, allowing new characters to waltz into the upper reaches of state power. And yet the perils of monarchy, which look totally plausible, aren’t so unfamiliar. If we had a king, we’d have wars kept going by corporate interests and underrepresenation of the working class. I wonder what that would be like…
God also messes with what would otherwise be a normal show. He does exist in the show, in a very Old Testament way. He anoints kings and plays favorites. Reverand Samuelson (who may or may not be corrupt or a drunk) is a prophet and can read the signs. However, this doesn’t make God any better than any of the other interests in the show. God wants Gilboa to hold a certain slice of land (he used to be really into that) and so those willing to trade land for peace become the bad guys. Maybe. In a contest between a god who works with large corporations to continue wars for the sake of territory and a corrupt monarch who’s willing to take peace if it ensures his legacy, I’m just a very confused leftist. At the same time, David’s rural family want to fight for the land they believe God gave them. Ordinarily they’d be crazy, but in this world God does exist. It’s strange and interesting enough for me to tune in sometime the week of the 14th and see what happens next.
I hate to suck my loyal readers in, but one of the things I like about the medium of television is that it gives people one bite-size bit of thought to talk about per week. Some common experience in which we work together to find meaning. In that spirit, I’m posting a link to the show. I know some other blogs do open threads on shows a lot of readers watch, so if y’all get into the show, maybe we can try sometime like that.