In the current political climate of our time, it’s no surprise that Hollywood is reacting by producing more and more alt-history shows with political implications. First was Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, followed by Amazon’s Man in the High Castle, and now HBO is throwing its hat in the ring with an adaptation of Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America.
The Plot Against America tells the story of what might have happened had American hero Charles Lindbergh won the 1940 election against Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Lindbergh was an American hero and a popular person in the U.S. following his triumphant cross-ocean solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927. Though he was popular after the events of 1927, Lindbergh was a staunch supporter of non-interventionism and Nazi Germany during the World War II era. The Plot Against America explores the sharp descent into anti-Semitism through the eyes of a working-class Jewish family from New Jersey.
As anti-Semitism spreads through the states, but we’re kept from fighting in the war, the Levin family–headed by Zoe Kazan and Morgan Spector–fights to continue their lives but also fights to protect their family from the radicals who are threatening their way of life. Swastikas are spray-painted on headstones. The KKK burns down houses and businesses and Kazan’s character Bess seeks a possible escape from the madness.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is Bess’s older sister Evelyn Finkel (Winona Ryder). Evelyn is on Lindbergh’s side. She even marries Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf (John Turturro) who is a key supporter of Lindbergh and the only reason why he got nominated in the first place. Bengelsdorf ignores the most obvious horrors the Lindbergh administration is doing and simply seizes the opportunity to become a historical figure in his own right.
David Simon, creator, and writer spoke at the Television Critics Association press tour earlier this month and said, “[The Plot Against America is] about the savagery to label some people less American. The book goes through a very specific moment against Jews, which can be applied to everyone. Just step back and take the greater spirit.”
HBO released a trailer for the 6-part miniseries yesterday and it promises to be a fascinating if not unnerving look at what could have happened. Watch the trailer below and watch The Plot Against America when it premieres on March 16th.