As our nation enters a new age of entertainment industriousness, it has become increasingly clear that everyone simply must own a slavery drama. Movies like 12 Years A Slave, Django Unchained, Lincoln, and even Lee Daniels’ The Butler have inspired a competitive harvest season in which studios are racing to stock up on their own slavery dramas—everything from History’s Roots remake to ABC’s A Slave In The White House to Giancarlo Esposito’s movie about John Brown. Now FX, determined not to be out-picked this year, has purchased a fine, strong slavery drama itself. Titled The Code, the limited series hails from producer and proud slavery drama owner Kelsey Grammer, who will act as overseer on an adaptation of the novel Song Yet Sung from author James McBride and whip it into shape.
FX hopes its slavery drama will prove itself in the crowded field by plucking the most “complexities of slavery” from an increasingly plundered narrative, telling a Harriet Tubman-inspired tale about a black woman on the run along the Underground Railroad and the war “pitting slave against slave, white against white, and plantation owner against plantation owner” she creates. It will be a close race, given that, as Deadline puts it, “Slavery continues to be in the cultural zeitgeist”—and that’s how it will be, unless some sort of, say, cultural abolitionist comes along, trying to emancipate it. But given how important slavery dramas have become to the production of our modern entertainment, they can surely expect a fight.