The modern TV executive is a fascinating bundle of learned impulses, instincts, and complex sensory organs. Like a migratory swallow or a hibernation-seeking bear, their bodies are perfectly tuned to the cultural environment, heads swiveling at all times toward magnetic north (or the latest Shonda Rhimes show, as the case may be). So it’s not surprising that every now and then two zeitgeist-tuned networks will announce they’re developing shows about the same thing, even if the topic at hand isn’t usually as esoteric as, say, Kentucky bourbon production.
So yes, Fox and NBC have both announced that they’re developing one-hour dramas about the excitement-filled world of Kentucky colonels and the sweet syrup that gives them succor. Fox’s show, produced by Hell On Wheels’ Bruce Romans, is just going by The Untitled Kentucky Bourbon Project for now, but NBC’s entry—spearheaded by Empire’s David Rambo—has a regal title: The Bourbon Kings. (Presumably, the network is going after the clutch “pun-loving French history nerd” demographic.) Based off a book by J.R. Ward, NBC’s show would center on the travails and troubles of an aristocratic Kentucky brewing family. Meanwhile, Fox’s project will focus on the perils and pitfalls that beset a family of aristocratic Kentucky brewers.
Fingers remain crossed that both shows, which are still early in development, will make it to air, if only because we really want to hear people arguing over the merits of their drinkumentary of choice. (“Yeah, but Untitled Kentucky Bourbon Project really respects the whiskey, man!”) Plus, at least one of these series is going to end up steering super hard into melodrama, which means we might hear otherwise-dignified actors recite lines like, “Revenge is a dish best served finely aged, in vintage oak barrels,” or “I’d like to CASK you a question!” (That last one is said after someone gets hit over the head with a cask.)