*Variety Streaming Room hosted a roundtable with the cast, directors and executive producers of HBO’s “Watchmen,” including Regina King, Louis Gossett Jr. and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. The talk not only covered the creative choices of executive producer Damon Lindelof in adapting the graphic novel, participants also discussed how “prescient” the series turned out to be, in terms of its depiction of police brutality, the use of masks and the 1921 Tulsa massacre.
From the first moments in the premiere of HBO’s “Watchmen” last October, the show proved to be the most urgent and prescient series on television today. Rather than adapt the universally acclaimed 1986 graphic novel “Watchmen” written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons — which had already been made into a 2009 feature film by Zack Snyder — co-creator and executive producer Damon Lindelof chose instead to update the world of the novel from New York City in 1985 to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2019.
The reason for the change of venue was simple, but devastating: The show’s main hero, Angela Abar, aka the police detective Sister Night (Regina King), is a direct descendant of a survivor of the very real 1921 massacre of the Tulsa neighborhood known as Black Wall Street. Lindelof first learned about the event from a 2014 piece in The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates called “The Case for Reparations,” and his shock that he hadn’t known about it before grew into a resolve to make the event the centerpiece of his show.
Indeed, “Watchmen” precipitated a major shift in awareness of the Tulsa ’21 massacre, from the successful criticisms of President Trump scheduling his first rally since the COVID-19 pandemic in Tulsa on Juneteenth, to three separate documentary projects about the massacre that have been announced in just the last few weeks.
Watch the streaming event in full below: