‘Extrapolations’ creator Scott Z. Burns talks about turning climate change into ‘man-sized stories’ across genres

Years after An Inconvenient Truth shocked the world with the urgent reality of climate change, Extrapolations creator Scott Z. Burns has decided to tackle the all-important subject of climate in Human Stories with a new Apple TV+ drama series.

“It’s actually been kind of a revelation to realize that instead of getting big, you’re getting small and trying to define human-scale stories where people face climate change,” Burns told TheWrap. “We thought about serious problems such as rising sea levels, extreme heat [and] fires – and tried to move from them to a human story that could be interesting and exciting … What does a love story look like in a world where sea levels change? What does a thriller look like?

“Extrapolations,” premiering March 17 on Apple TV+, focuses on the ongoing climate crisis as it escalates into dangerous conditions around the world, with tech billionaire Nicholas Bilton (Kit Harington) constantly leading the large-scale decision-making that continues to generate revenue for his company. Told in eight interconnected episodes, the series follows several recurring characters including David Diggs, Sienna Miller, Tahara Rahima and Meryl Streep as the drama jumps from various crisis points to 2037, 2046, 2047, 2052, 2059, 2066, 2068 and 2070.

Later episodes of the series feature vignettes of characters who are not related to recurring characters but are inextricably linked to the climate crisis, including Tobey Maguire, Gemma Chan, and Marion Cotillard in several Black Mirror-style episodes. “We wanted to make the show something different than a pure anthology, so we were looking for a kind of connective tissue that would help captivate the audience,” said Burns.

While climate change studies can overwhelm readers with graphics that feel “cold” and “alienated,” executive producer Dorothy Fortenberry says the series is meant to be an engaging “sex show about people,” as it focuses on human connections driven by emotions. .

Like graphs that project the results of climate change several years into the future, the series covers just over 30 years as viewers feel the impact of the choices made by the characters in the pilot on the children or even grandchildren of other characters. .

“We can show this permanent effect [that] the choices we make today have consequences tomorrow, but as a human being we follow the characters… [and] their love, their life, their loss [and] their joy over time,” Fortenberry said.

While the series ends in 2070, the first episode takes place in the near future in 2037 – the time frame, as Burns points out, is the same distance in the future as The Hangover is in the past.

After consulting with scientists to set a time frame, the creators and executive producers have learned that an escalation of the climate crisis, which can be pushed back to a certain future by cynics or those less intimidated by the crisis, is actually predicted before 2100 and could even happen. Now.

“Most of what we see in the pilot is what you also see in the papers, we just amplify them,” Burns said. “When you create an event horizon too far into the future, it’s very easy for people to say, ‘This is not my life, I don’t have to worry about it.’ We wanted to bring the event horizon closer to the people… if you are a young person who is on this show, you will survive it.”

Episodes 1-3 of Extrapolation are now streaming on Apple TV+.

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