“When I sat down to write the pilot, I didn’t want to write another show about another white family and their white problems,” Ball said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s been a lot of great shows on air that do that really, really well. But it wasn’t interesting enough to me.”
Ball said he learns more from watching characters with other cultural experiences besides “middle-class problems.” While the families shown in “Here and Now” certainly come from a wealthy background, they experience a wide range of issues. The show explores the effects of colorism, being Muslim, adoption from foreign countries, and much more between two connected families.
“I tried to create a family through whose eyes we could look at contemporary America and the sort of upheaval and issues that we’re all dealing with,” Ball explained. “If you have a family made up of such diverse members, they’re going to experience life through their own prism in a way that maybe other members of their family don’t understand or can’t really experience themselves.”
Oscar-winner Tim Robbins, who leads the family alongside Holly Hunter, said Ball’s script will speak to dealing with current problems. “I hope it inspires a dialogue about diversity, about racism, about this ugly emergence of xenophobia, and distrust and division that’s happening right now in America,” Robbins said.
Executive producer Peter Macdissi also discussed the importance of showing a diverse family, particularly in the current political climate. “A lot people don’t feel safe,” Macdissi said. “Just dealing with being rejected as a non-white person is something that needs to be talked about and seen on television to create empathy between people.”
But the show isn’t just a political statement. Jerrika Hinton, who stars as Ashley Collins, said the show can be interpreted in other ways as well. “This story is more important than the politics,” she said. “It’s more human than the politics.”
“Here and Now” premieres on HBO on Feb. 11 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.