So what world are we in?
So what does HEAL feel like it? What world are we in exactly?
There’s humor: For example, Reich’s competitor/mentor Sigmund Freud is seen as a Scarface-esque gangster, Reich is pictured having philosophical discussions about energy while having sex, and there’s a prevalent V/O wryly describing Sullivan Grabowski’s quest for truth at the expense of attention to his family. There’s mystery: As Reich is surveilled in the past, so Grabowski slowly becomes surveilled in the present. What’s he up to? Maybe something the government has tried to quash or maybe something the government wants? And there’s science fiction: What Grabowski believes Reich was onto was some kind of device that could harness energy in unforeseen ways. . . And perhaps this energy will allow Grabowski and Reich to ultimately meet (Although whether that meeting is in Grabowski’s mind or in reality remains to be seen). And there’s drama: The more Grabowski becomes obsessed with Reich, the more he becomes alienated from his teen children and his spouse Jane.
Although Jane doesn’t believe Grabowski and thinks he’s crazy like Reich, slowly she begins to wonder, as she slowly starts to have unexplainable health concerns like Grabowski, and slowly thinks she’s being watched. And similarly, Grabowski goes between believing in Reich and believing he was a crackpot and that’s he’s destroying his own life for nothing. For Grabowski, if Reich doesn’t hold the answer, well there is no answer and well . . . what’s the point of living. . . So the stakes are high all around.
So Mrs. Maisel (history/humor), and Fleabag come to mind. But so does Killing Eve and Westworld (conspiracy/sci fi). There is some overlap with Masters of Sex,since Reich too dealt with theories of sex, and promoted mutually satisfying sex, not for procreation, but because it’s necessary for one’s health. And like Masters, Reich was himself a problematic figure. But Masters was known, Reich is unknown so we think audiences will be intrigued. So maybe the same audience that enjoyed Masters of Sex, will also enjoy Heal, but also those who are intrigued by something more expansive and maybe with more dark humor.
Some might compare this show to Maniac, and true, there is some “imaginings” of what Reich’s life was actually like and what Sigmund Freud might have been like, but our show is grounded in history (most of the most outrageous aspects of Reich we couldn’t begin to make up!) and we want to investigate actual issues – like the rise of unexplainable diseases and the extent to which we can separate a man’s negative behaviors from his possible contributions, and also how power determines history. We’d say our show might be more like the movie The Prestige that featured Nikola Telsa and mused on what if his work with electricity could give rise to teleportation devices. So similarly, we see the work of a historical figure in a new light (no pun intended!) and similarly imagine powerful creations that might have come from that work. Like Reich who was erased partly because of the single-mindedness of his mentor Sigmund Freud, Telsa was erased partly due to his competitor Thomas Edison. And one wonders about the role the government/business played in all, how the more powerful figure (Thomas Edison/Sigmund Freud) ultimately gets the wider support.
Structurally the show is like Julie and Julia in the way that it goes back and forth between the past and present as we follow Reich in the past and Sullivan trying to understand/replicate Reich in the present.
We can’t wait to bring this world to life!
(Image by Ken Pagni)
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