For All Mankind is the AppleTV+ series set in an alternate timeline where the Soviet Union reached the Moon before the United States. It sets off a series of events that not only changed the space race during that time but affected social issues of the day. At the end of season one, both countries had space stations on the Moon and if this trailer for season two, released during Comic-Con@home, is any indication, relations are far from friendly.
Astronauts with machine guns? It looks this world’s Cold War took things up a few levels.
In addition to the trailer release, the cast and creators of the series held a panel discussion where they covered the social issues season one addressed, as well as teased some character arcs for season two. It was hosted by series creators Ronald D. Moore, Matt Wolpert, and Ben Nedivi and featured cast members Joel Kinnaman, Michael Dorman, Sarah Jones, Shantel Van Santen, Jodi Balfour, Wrenn Schmidt, Sonya Walger, and Krys Marshall.
One of the main points of season one was creating a team of women astronauts to compete with the Soviet Union, who had already put a woman on the Moon. Series creator Matt Wolpert asked the panel how the world would be different if this happened in real life.
“When you lock out 50% of your population from bringing out their talents, you lose out,” said Wrenn Schmidt (Margo Madison), “Any program that’s more inclusive, the better.”
Jodi Balfour (Ellen Wilson) added, “One would suggest it would be a less conflictual place where gender roles are concerned.”
That conflict is something Krys Marshall questioned. “[There is] this inherent competition of how a woman can be better than a man. How can a woman be, “in addition,” to men, not in competition?”
Even with the strides, this world was making it still had a lot to learn in regards to the objectification of women and Sarah Jones (Tracy Stevens) was glad the series addressed this. “Nixon wanted Tracy because of how she looked, not her experience. I appreciate how it was examined and called out.”
The advancement of women's rights and their place in world was not the only issue dealt with in the series.
Just as we all deal with mental health issues in our timeline the characters of For All Mankind are no different. Michael Dorman (Gordo Stevens) discussed how his character was suffering a mental breakdown while being in isolation, “[Gordo] missed the rush of adrenaline so much he would have to push his suit as far as it would go just to get that rush. When that failed, he slowly starts to fall apart. It’s a beautiful part of storytelling, in terms of the human condition and how we can fracture from pressure.”
Watching your friend break down, knowing what will happen if it comes out, is something Joel Kinnaman’s character Ed Baldwin had to work through.
“It became about a choice,” he said, “Are you going to support your brother, or are you going to take charge of your mission? While it was agonizing, for Gordo’s sake, he had to send him home.”
The issue of mental health within the series looks like it will continue throughout the series as well.
Season 2 will have a ten-year time jump bringing our characters forward to 1983 which made it harder for some actors when it comes to dealing with trauma. Ed and Karen's (Shantel Van Santen) son Shane died a decade earlier, but viewers won’t get to see the grieving process.
“It was difficult to jump ten years without seeing them go through that trauma,” Kinnaman said, “I needed to have that experience of the character going through the grief. It was difficult to connect with it when it was so distant.”
Van Santen agreed, saying, “It felt jarring. I felt lost and anxious to find out where she was going in season two. Where does she go from here if she’s not Shane’s mother?
For All Mankind Season One is currently streaming on AppleTV+. Season Two will premiere in 2021.
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