Amazon has selected the six pilots it will showcase in its Hunger Games-style battle to determine which ones will be turned into series. As it has done since 2013, Amazon will screen all six pilots for free on Amazon Video, then, based on a mystical combination of ratings and users comments, the company will select which pilots will become full series available to Amazon Prime subscribers. That’s the process by which Transparent became one of the most critically lauded shows around, although if you’re Woody Allen you get to skip the whole battle-to-the-death thing and just get your show greenlit.
We first got wind of some of these pilots back in May, but the final line-up is slightly different (David E. Kelley’s legal drama The Trial is expected to go straight to series, for instance). According to Variety, the six pilots include three half-hour comedies and three hour-long dramas. The creative forces behind the comedies include Louis CK, Sacha Baron Cohen, Tig Notaro, and—somewhat unexpectedly—Christina Ricci. The dramas, meanwhile, include a violent Western, a political thriller, and a period piece about late ’60s sexism. All six are set to debut later this fall, and a brief summary of each is below:
- Highston: A 19-year-old has a vast network of imaginary friends who just happen to be major celebrities. Newcomer Lewis Pullman plays the title role while Mary Lynn Rajskub (24) and Chris Parnell (SNL) star as his concerned parents. The pilot’s guest stars include Shaquille O’Neal and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Highston is written by Nebraska’s Bob Nelson, directed by Little Miss Sunshine’s Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, and executive produced by Sacha Baron Cohen.
- One Mississippi: Tig Notaro plays a loosely fictionalized version of herself in this dark comedy in which her character returns to her childhood home in Mississippi following the unexpected death of her mother. Notaro co-wrote the series with Diablo Cody and the duo also executive produce alongside Louis C.K. Enough Said’s Nicole Holofcener directed the pilot.
- Z: A Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald bio-series that stars Christina Ricci in the central role. The show will focus on Zelda’s relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald (Allegiance’s Gavin Stenhouse). The Killing’s Nicole Yorkin penned the pilot, which is helmed by character actor/director Tim Blake Nelson.
- Edge: A violent Western based on George G. Gilman’s book series of the same name, Edge follows a Union-officer-turned-cowboy (Pacific Rim’s Max Martini) in the post-Civil War West. Chuck’s Yvonne Strahovski also co-stars. Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3) and Fred Dekker (Robocop 3) wrote and created the series while Black also directs.
- Good Girls Revolt: A 1969 drama about young female researchers at a news magazine. Based on a book by Lynn Povich that chronicles sexual-discrimination of the era, the pilot stars the likes of Genevieve Angelson (House Of Lies), Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect), Jim Belushi, and Grace Gummer as Nora Ephron. The pilot is created and written by Made In Jersey’s Dana Calvo and helmed by Return’s Liza Johnson.
- Patriot: A political thriller about an intelligence officer (New Zealand newcomer Michael Dorman) assigned to prevent Iran from going nuclear. Terry O’Quinn (Lost) and Kurtwood Smith (That ’70s Show) also star in the pilot written and directed by Steven Conrad (The Pursuit of Happyness).
It’s worth noting that half of these pilots are written by women and half of them center on female characters, which is the sort of gender parity that will likely make a lot of people happy. However, since Amazon has been accused of centering its shows mostly on rich white people, it’s also worth pointing out that all six pilots center on white characters, albeit of various socio-economic statuses.