Beau Willimon shows us the path to Mars in The First

Beau Willimon, the screenwriter and playwright who established Netflix’s” House of Cards”, has turned his attention from Washington , D.C. to outer space in its most recent series” The First “.

The proves have more in common than I expected. Sure,” The First” is about a future expedition to Mars , not present period political machinations. And instead of the fourth wall-breaking monologues that” House of Cards” was known for, the new serial relies on long, practically silent sequences where attributes meditate its final decision and brood over the past.

But” The First”( which launched all eight occurrences of its first season on September 14) isn’t an outer space adventure filled with special effects. In reality, most of the narrative takes home in New Orleans, focusing on the political, economic and technical objections that the team( Tom Hagerty, the astronaut giving full play to Sean Penn) faces it was able to even take off.

When I interviewed Willimon and executive producer Jordan Tappis, I suggested that the demonstrate seemed to be more about Earth than Mars — but Willimon didn’t quite agree.

” I actually think it’s completely about Mars ,” he said. For one thing, he has a multi-season programme, which will presumably take us to the Red Planet eventually. And while Willimon acknowledged that it would have been” a lot safer of a narrative choice to leap straight into the mission ,” he wanted to explore other slants, like the facts of the case that” current realities of getting to a region like Mars is that it would incredibly difficult to even get to the starting line .”


Part of that impediment involves tackling space skeptics who wonder whether the mission is merit the costs and danger. In a traditional science fiction story, those foes would probably be depicted as wrongheaded or even downright villainous, but in” The First”, they seem to have a real point.

” My own personal stance is, I absolutely think we should go to Mars ,” Willimon said.” The appreciate of expedition in any form, in space or here on Earth, speaks to a long and deep lust in humanity to understand and confront the unknown” — and that’s on top of the material and scientific benefits.

Still, he told me he wanted” The First” to” reflect countries around the world in which we live and the world in which we’re likely to live 13 years from now ,” which necessitated telling” the story of people who don’t share that same notion, who objection it from a philosophical or emotional point of view. … Any astronaut going to Mars has to confront the fact that he or she may die. The question for any of them, or for any loved one, is: Is it worth it ?”

Ultimately, Willimon said,” We didn’t want to create a fantasy here. We’re not very interested in science fiction. We’re interested in science fact .”

That meant generate a plausible roadmap for how we might actually get at Mars. In” The First ,” the mission is organized by a private company called Vista, but the funding comes the U.S. government, and Willimon suggested that this kind of public-private partnership will probably be necessary.

LOS ANGELES, CA- SEPTEMBER 12:( L-R) Creator/ Writer/ Executive Producer Beau Willimon speaks onstage at Hulu’s” The First” Los Angeles Premiere on September 12, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.( Photo by Tommaso Boddi/ Getty Images for Hulu )

With the current excitement around companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, he said ” the private sector companies got a lot to give in accelerating a mission like this and building it cost efficient .” But he doesn’t think the private sector companies is going to get us to Mars on its own.

” In reality, the costs of getting to Mars , no matter what version you speculate, is immense ,” Willimon said.” I don’t think it’s likely that a purely private sector venture is going conjure that sum of capital … In our conception, the money is coming form NASA, which means it’s really coming from taxpayer and the U.S. government, while the actual execution, constructing the hardware and reading the mission through, is contracted out to Vista .”

” The First” likewise depicts everyday life in 2031. Tappis explained that the product crew” operated really closely with a handful of consultants and experts in the field” to develop its version of future engineering — which looks a lot like the technology of 2018, but with a few key advancements in areas like self-driving automobiles, augmented reality and voice communication.

” When you think about 13 years ago, countries around the world gazed reasonably similar to the direction it searches today, but with a few grace like to remind you that you would find that showcase the evolution between then and now ,” Tappis said.

One thing that has changed significantly in the past decade is the television scenery, and I suggested that by creating and showrunning” House of Cards ,” Willimon essentially kicked off the change to streaming content.

” To be honest, I think that would have happened regardless of’ House of Cards ‘,” Willimon responded.” We were the first indicate to run do that, because we were in the right place at the right time and were smart enough to say yes. But I imagine the trend was underway and was going to happen one space or the other .”

As for the future of television, he said,” If this much change happened in less than a decade, who knows what might happen 15 times form now. Maybe … the audience isn’t going to be watching evidences on handheld machines, but instead watching it swimming before them on AR glasses .”

Near-future speculation is fun, and it’s a assignment that Willimon and Tappis seem to have taken extremely seriously. Still, if” The First” aims up passing for several years, there seems to be a real risk that it could be overtaken or contradicted by how space travel plays out in the real world, or how buyer technologies evolve.

” While we believe our hypothesi is an informed one and surely plausible in matters of what it could look like, the time will come where reference is do stimulate our first mission to Mars and it will either be very accurate or it won’t be ,” Willimon said. And yet, just as there continues to watch the ostensibly outdated” 2001: A Space Odyssey”, he argued,” There’s a deeper tale there, which is the human tale of the persons with messy lives trying to accomplish something great. There’s an essential truth to that, which we hope is timeless .”

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