11.22.63 – Where are all the female leads?

Where were you when JFK got shot? 11.22.63. It’s one of the most significant points in American history, and one of the best-known pop culture references. JFK, the man himself, is legendary and radical. One of the most popular conspiracy theories on JFK is his own government organized his assassination.

It’s likely all of these and other ideas will take up a bulk of the show. Without getting into any spoilers, there are several elements that add a science fiction feel. Stephen King, notorious for writing about horror and science fiction, used the not-so-simple concept of time travel. 11.22.63 takes all the paradoxes that come with time travel and immediately go out to hash out the dirty details. What are the repercussions? Will they make a difference?

There’s an added detail that doesn’t come up often enough in time travel narratives: will time fight against change? There’s a strange supernatural force at work, and it gets more violent whenever Epping (James Franco) does anything incredibly out of line. It’s like some unknown, greater force can feel a grandfather paradox coming on. This gives the writers the opportunity to put in the stuff of nightmares. These added details always follow the phrase, ‘you’re not supposed to be here.’ Well no kidding.

Despite all this added detail to make the story richer, the show is entirely lacking on complex female leads. Executive producer J.J. Abrams doesn’t have a great history how he writes in female characters. Epping even walks into a tavern with a sign that reads ‘Men Only.’ This show feels like an old boys’ club, and the concept of how ‘this is the 60s’ is a shoddy excuse. Mad Men, which is set in the same time period, has several complex female leads. Two women show up in 11.22.63 with significant screen time. One of them is Epping’s ex-wife, Christie. The second woman is a beautiful blonde named Sadie, who’s clearly Epping’s new love interest. A Hulu Original series can do much better than that.

Anyway, every time James Franco gets closer to finding information about JFK’s assassination there’s always this supernatural crap literally pushing back. It’s hard to say why Hulu cast James Franco. The man does a great job carrying the show, but there’s nothing audiences haven’t seen before. Franco has the same comedic relief, the same charming expression, and the same ‘whoa did that just happen,’ reaction. Al, played by Chris Cooper, brilliantly upstages Franco in spite of having so little screen time. It’s obvious Hulu cast Franco to appeal to the generation where the events on 11.22.63 seem outdated, before their time.

Jess Morton
Jess Mortonhttp://www.jessthepress.com
Jess is a film theory geek who spends too much time watching Netflix. As a never-ending side project Jess writes feature articles on web series. She lives with her cat Aira in Toronto.