Amazon’s ‘Man in the High Castle’ Explores the Question: ‘What Makes us Americans and Not Nazis?’

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Amazon Studios’ highly anticipated new series The Man in the High Castleabout what the world would look like if the Axis powers had won World War II–doesn’t premiere until November, but the show’s creative team offered up new details about the show at the Television Critics Association press tour on Monday.

The Man in the High Castle is based on Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel of the same name, in which the Germans and Japanese won World War II, the United States is run by a fascist regime, and the few surviving Jews live their lives in fear under false identities.

During the panel, series co-creator Frank Spotniz, executive producer David Zucker and actor Rupert Evans discussed some of the challenges in launching the controversial show, from basic aesthetic choices (“What would Times Square look like if we didn’t live in a corporate capitalist society?”) to the alternate universe that would need to be imagined (“…this is a world where Elvis didn’t exist, and if Elvis didn’t happen then the Beatles didn’t happen… we had to gain an understanding of popular culture in this world.”)

“We originally developed it as a four-hour,” Zucker explained of the show’s nearly decade-long development cycle, according to Deadline. “It became a much richer opportunity when Amazon decided to pilot it that we kind of unwound those episodes and then rebuilt with much broader narratives.”

In addition to the more striking visual aspects of the series, which became the most viewed pilot in Amazon Studios history after its premiere in January, Spotniz reportedly told journalists after the panel that he wants his show to challenge Americans’ perception of what their country stands for.

“There are interesting questions about who we are today and what we’re doing that I want people to think about,” Spotniz said, according to Entertainment Weekly. “The Nazis are ruthless, they will hunt out their enemies without remorse. Look at how ruthless we are about fighting our enemies. In [the TV series], the Nazis are in control and the terrorists are us. The terrorists are the oppressed Americans and the Jews. It makes you think.”

“Our politics right now are pretty dysunctional, pretty fractured, and a show like this is about who are, what do you stand for as a country. And no matter who you are politically, you can look at the show and say, ‘Well, I’m against the Nazis occupying our country.’ But then comes [the question]: ‘What am I for? What do I believe?’ There are some scenes in the show, where you’re like, ‘I almost agree with that, almost. But why don’t I agree with that?’ What makes us Americans and not Nazis?”

The 13-episode first season of The Man in the High Castle premieres November 20 on Amazon.


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