Vince Gilligan, the creator of the phenomenal Breaking Bad, and Michelle MacLaren, the director behind several episodes of AMC’s most acclaimed original series, haven’t slouched since the drama ended its five season run. Gilligan is one of two showrunners behind the spin-off series Better Call Saul with Peter Gould, while MacLaren flirted with directing DC’s Wonder Woman adaptation before leaving the superhero blockbuster and returning to TV with The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, just to name a few. And while they’ve never completely separated, they’re collaborations have certainly remained limited, with MacLaren directing only one episode of the aforementioned Better Call Saul thus far. But that’ll soon change.
They’ll work together on Raven, an HBO limited series that’ll tell the story of Jim Jones, the cult leader behind Peoples Temple which lead to mass suicide in Guyana in 1978, after killing Congressman Leo Ryan. Color me intrigued.
As reported by Deadline (via The Playlist), Gilligan will write and executive produce the mini-series while MacLaren directs. It’s unclear how many episodes will transpire, or when the show is set to hit the air. Gilligan and MacLaren also plan to executive produce alongside Octavia Spencer, although she has no plans to act at this time. It’s inspired by Tim Reiterman’s nonfiction book Raven: The Untold Story of Jim Jones and His People. It’ll not only focus on Jones but also his followers, who were — for the most part — goodhearted and ordinary people driven into impure temptation. You could say they were provoke to, ahem, break bad — which makes Gilligan and MacLaren a good fit for the material, I’d say.
Gilligan has proven several times that he can do no wrong (except Battle Creek, but he wasn’t really involved with that one anyway), and MacLaren’s episodes of Breaking Bad are among the strongest in an already-exceptional series. I can’t wait to see them in action again. This material is as dark as it is fascinating, which is their bread and butter. Here’s hoping it helps provide the upswing HBO desperately needs right about now.
As it turns out, Raven is one of two Jim Jones series currently in the works, as A&E announced an anthology series in January focused on American cults, with season one focused on Jones and his disciples. That one is produced by Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s unclear how they’ll affect one another, if they will affect each other at all.
Raven serves as Gilligan’s first time working with HBO. MacLaren, however, has directed under the station a few times at this point. In addition to the aforementioned Game of Thrones, she also helmed installments of The Leftovers and their upcoming Westworld, which is set to hit television screens next month.