I’m in a TV rut. My DVR went kaput over the summer and when I got a new box, faced with reprogramming dozens of hours of TV, I found that I didn’t like hardly anything I’d been watching. So I ditched a bunch of shows and even still, until Justified comes back in 2015, I’m not really into anything. I’m weeks behind on almost everything on my DVR and I’m not feeling the new programming at all. The Knick? Appreciate it more academically than anything. The Affair? Secretly the most boring show on TV. How to Get Away with Murder? I’ll catch up eventually, but soap operas, even Shonda Rhimes’ soap operas, are not my bag. Gotham? Holy sh*t, it’s horrendous.
So it’s with a jaded eye that I watched the trailer for Netflix’s new historical epic, Marco Polo, and even my cynical ass is into it. First of all, the production values are insane. Produced in conjunction with The Weinstein Company, this looks like something from Wong Kar-wai or Zhang Yimou. There’s some ambitious, grand-scale looking stuff in here, and that’s before we even get to the sex, murder, and sexy murder (or murdery sex). Marco Polo is about the 13th century explorer and his time in Kublai Khan’s court, so there’s royal intrigue, politicking, and boning. It looks like a cross between Game of Thrones and The Tudors, but set in Asia.
Canucks might be excited to see Olivia Cheng in a central role, but I’m just excited to see a bunch of not-white people starring in a major project. A lot of the focus on diversity falls on women and African-Americans, but Asians, Latinos, and the LGBTQ community are also drastically underrepresented—maybe even more so. So while Marco Polo does look like something I’ll actually enjoy watching, I’m also pulling for it in the hopes that if it’s successful, we can then get more diverse programming. I think a big part of my TV ennui is that everything looks the f*cking same. Marco Polo does not look the same.