I’m still technically on hiatus, but I want to talk about this and frankly don’t know anyone personally who would care, so you lot get to listen instead.
Tor recently posted about the latest casting news for the City Watch series that’s been promised for several years now. The character descriptions are… very telling, and not in a good way.
It’s already been stated that the show will be based on the books rather than adapting them directly so I’m not bothered about specific plotlines being altered, except when they affect characters. Though I’d rather see a direct adaptation because they’re amazing books and why wouldn’t you use material of that quality? There are only going to be eight episodes, and I’m beginning to think that might be a good thing and that we’re unlikely to see further series.
“BBC America cast Adam Hugill as Carrot Ironfoundersson, a naïve do-gooder who was raised by dwarves, who joins the Ankh-Morpork City Watch.”
This is fine. I’m not familiar with him, but looking him up he seems like he’d make a good Carrot, and this is how Carrot’s arc begins.
“[Richard] Dormer will play Sam Vimes, the City Watch’s long-suffering commander who made the Watch what it is.”
Well, more or less. At the time Carrot joins, Vimes isn’t really long-suffering so much as extremely depressed at the futility of trying to enforce the law in a professionally lawless city, and also an alcoholic. (He’s also a captain not a commander at this point, but that’s just nitpicking.) Dormer doesn’t quite fit my mental Vimes but I can see it.
“[Marama] Corlette will play Corporal Angua, tasked with training Carrot.”
This one upsets me. I admit I’m biased because I ship these two and have done since I was a wee teen (heck, my first ever fanfic was about them), but still. Angua joins years after Carrot does, he trains her, and she never at any point outranks him. Reversing that alters the whole dynamic of their relationship.
I assume they want to be more feminist about it, but why not have her join at the same time and be a fellow newbie on equal footing if it bothered them? She and Carrot do have very different perspectives, it’s why they naturally make a good team when she joins.
I’ve always seen the hierarchy of the relationship as important because (unless they’ve mucked around with that too) Angua’s a werewolf; in my headcanon it’s sometimes only the notion that he’s theoretically higher ranking that stops her from slapping Carrot upside the head. And he certainly wouldn’t be daft enough to attempt to order her to do anything. She only ever uses his rank or calls him ‘sir’ when she’s pissed off or putting on a show for other people.
More practically, Corlette does not look blonde and Germanic to me; Angua’s able to keep her species a secret because everyone knows you don’t get blonde wolves, so when she’s transformed she passes for a large dog.
“[Jo] Eaton-Kent will play Constable Cheery, a non-binary forensics expert, ostracized by their kin and finding a new home and identity.”
…No. Cheery isn’t non binary. The entire basis of her character is that dwarven society is hyper-masculine and everyone, including women and children, must present as and act as male. She’s biologically female and identifies as female, and starts a movement demonstrating that female dwarfs can be feminine without being weak, are just as capable as males, and shouldn’t be shamed for it.
If they want to add a NB character on top of that, fantastic – how about Dorfl? The golems led to gender discussions in later books because they aren’t demonstrably either male or female, being made of clay, and people aren’t sure which pigeonhole to stuff them into. There is at least one explicitly genderfluid golem and as a group they’re agender, and Dorfl is in the Watch.
Hell, you could make a persuasive argument for Nobby being non-binary. Nobody’s completely sure what species he is, let alone gender, and he has no problem presenting as female occasionally. But there’s no need to change Cheery’s character.
I’ve seen people speculate that this means they’re cutting dwarfs (and trolls) as a thing, and recasting Cheery as human. Why even bother basing something on a fantasy series if you’re going to abandon the fantasy elements? Just churn out yet another CSI spinoff and be done with it.
“[Lara] Rossi will play Lady Sybil Ramkin, a vigilante who is trying to clean up the streets (and in the novels, is married to Commander Vimes.)”
I can’t even wrap my head around this. Are they trying to make her Batman? She’s certainly badass enough, and has a badass ninja butler, but a large part of her arc in the first Watch book, her experiences and her interactions with the various characters, is that she respects the law. She’s one of the only people in the city who does. It’s completely out of character for her to go vigilante and this is a major red flag suggesting that the people behind this show don’t understand the books.
Given that Narrativia are involved in this project – and thus Rob Wilkins and Rhianna Pratchett – this is worrying.
It also seems to be implying that she and Vimes won’t get into a relationship in the show, which would be a real shame because they’re great together. Though book!Sybil is around the same age as Vimes, and Rossi is clearly much younger, because why would you have a cool older lady doing cool things, everyone knows older women can’t do that. Sigh. Particularly since book!Sybil is also a larger lady, and everyone knows fat women can’t do anything except sometimes be comic relief. Double sigh.
And the final bad sign…
“[Sam] Adewunmi will play Carcer Dun, a villain who is trying to take control of the city to take revenge on reality.”
It’s 2019, people. I think we’ve moved on from having one of only two POC in the cast be the villain (and Carcer is a violent, insane psychopath to boot). Come on now.
And I don’t even know what ‘taking revenge on reality‘ means. Are they going to try and tie the Auditors into this mess?
I know the fantastic Good Omens adaptation has spoiled me, and clearly I had my hopes way too high based on the perfectly acceptable though not amazing Discworld adaptations thus far, but this sounds like it’s going to be a messy disaster.
I hope I’m wrong because it will hurt my soul; these characters are my favourites in my favourite series by my favourite author. Please don’t make me hate them.