Forthcoming HBO Special on Dr. Tiller

The brains behind True Blood has another show up his sleeve. Alan Ball, who’s the executive producer of many of my friends’ top DVR selection, is working on a new show called Witchita. The new drama will be based on Dr. Tiller,  who was, for many years the figurehead of political and cultural tensions.

Ball is teaming up with Devin Friedman, who wrote the the 2010 GQ article “Savior vs. Savior” about Dr. Tiller. Hearing that this series will be on mainstream(ish) TV made me both interested and wary.

Dr. Tiller, who was the medical director of the Women’s Health Care Services facility, was shot and killed by anti-choice activist Scott Roeder in 2009. He also survived an assassination attempt in 1993 and was a target of anti-choice organizations and media for many, many years.

I always think it’s very interesting when these “controverisal” figures and storylines make it into the mainstream media. And judging from Friedman’s article in GQ, it seems that the show will aim for a particular kind of neutrality. And perhaps it will deploy, the common trope, of “it depends on your persepctive.” I’m not sure what to make of that, other than equating muder and fanatiscm with providing a safe and legal procedure seems intellectually lazy.

That said, I understand that legality and ethics are often two different things. I mean, heck, there are certainly many things that are legal that I find morally reprehensible (bank bailouts, anyone?).  But here’s the crux, the abortion debate is as volatile as it’s ever been and very few folks who are not staunchly on one side of the debate or the other even venture to discuss abortion in polite company, much less invest tons of dough and media capital into making a TV show about it. That leads me to be VERY interested in the angle of the show, and who the other writers might be, and how all this shakes out.

Because a show about abortion could go a long way toward eliminating shame and stigma by bringing the issue into our living rooms. But then a show about abortion that doesn’t challenge a simplistic right/wrong narrative won’t take us very far at all.

I’ll be watching with curiosity, and I’ll bet I’m not the only one.

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