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‘The Crossing’ showrunners discuss the series premiere and the science behind the show

The Crossing made its series debut on ABC tonight, and it was full of unexpected twists and turns! We chatted with showrunners Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie about the series premiere, the scientific research that went into making the show realistic, and a badass podcast featuring expert guests they plan on starting.

Spoilers ahead for The Crossing’s “Pilot” episode which aired April 2nd on ABC.

the crossing series premiere
(ABC/Jack Rowand) SIMONE KESSELL, STEVE ZAHN

PURE FANDOM: First of all, really gorgeous opening scene in the water. 

DWORKIN: Yeah, when we wrote it we knew it had the potential to be special, but at least in the back of my mind in the run up to production, I was wondering how well this could really be executed with the resources we had. Our director, Rob Bowman, had a plan and executed it perfectly. I’d never actually been on set for that kind of underwater tank work. It’s very laborious, and it’s very piecemeal, and it takes a long time. You’re never quite sure what you’re getting, but the end result was definitely… we were incredibly happy with it.

There were a lot of allusions to the way life was in the future, like the references about the Bible, the rabbit, and food being from real animals. What should we as audiences know about the future world at this point?

BEATTIE: Everything that we’ve alluded to in the future, we’re drawing on research we’ve done and consultants that we’ve spoken to—futurists. So, we’re trying to start from grounded, real-world science that’s out there today. I don’t know that people will be able to predict where we’re going. So many times, the future is some sort of apocalyptic place, which is a cynical look at things. Although there are some terrible things happening in our future, there are also some good things happening. Science has been taken to an extreme.

DWORKIN: One of the coolest parts about doing this show was the research. Personally, I don’t love doing research on shows. Jay and I have written on a lot of law enforcement procedurals—like I don’t need to do any more research about serial killers or profilers. I’m done. But on this show, it opened up this box about incredibly fertile stuff, and we talked to these people, futurists and climatologist, and genetic engineers. Man, was it fun.

So, we tried to to pull from some of that. That’s where the stuff about there being no real meat in the future comes from, which is reality. Like, we’re going to be growing meat in labs in the future. When that future will come is questionable, but that’s happening. Stuff about there being massive cloud cover in the future covering the stars in some portions of the world, that’s where that comes from when Rebecca looks up at the stars and marvels at the fact that she can see them when she washes up on the beach. That stuff was awesome. We tried to stay at that in the premiere and in the series—kind of dropping that stuff in there, just because it’s real.

That’s so cool! I hope people will realize how much research goes into the show to make it realistic. 

DWORKIN: In fact, I don’t know how this is going to turn out to be honest, but we had an idea to do a podcast. We’re not only doing a podcast that talks about the episode of the week, but that is at least 50% talking about the science behind the show. So, we’re going to have those people on, like the genetic engineer that we spoke to, and the climatologist and the linguist. We’re going to talk about what the future actually holds. Because, for us at least, that was one of the coolest parts about doing this show. So I assume, maybe wrongly but hopefully rightly, there are people out there who will find it equally fascinating.

the crossing series premiere
(ABC/Eike Schroter) STEVE ZAHN, SANDRINE HOLT

I would love that! People want to be able to dive deep into a show in that way! Other real-world issues and factors your show incorporates is immigrant and refugee life. What kind of research did that entail, and where did you draw inspiration from in those aspects?

BEATTIE: The inspiration for the idea came out of seeing all the images from Syria and everyone trying to cross into Greece at the beginning of 2016. Our intent was to show these time travelers as refugees or asylum seekers. What was surprising about our research was just how many people are held in detention centers in the United States for various periods of time, some for years. The last article I read, there was something like 200 facilities. Some government owned, some private owned. At any given time, there could be as many as 100,000 people being detained. So, when it came to our show, and our little camp of 47 refugees, it could be entirely possible. And also in that bureaucracy of the government, it seems entirely possible that it would require resources that could be kept fairly secret from not only the public, but from most of the government itself.

I have to mention Hannah and Roy. If you could just tell me that they’re going to end up in love and happy, that would be wonderful. 

DWORKIN: You’ll have to watch. It can never be that simple, can it?

Want more The Crossing exclusive content? Head here to read about what other TV shows influenced The Crossing, Steve Zahn’s casting process, and what Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie are personal super-fans of.

The Crossing airs Mondays on ABC at 10/9c.

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