WGN America looks to have picked the right time to launch its series Outsiders.” The plot of the new drama has similarities to the real occupation of a wildlife refuge that has unfolded in Oregon.
“Outsiders” deals with a struggle for power and control set in the rugged and isolated hills of Appalachia. The Farrell Clan is a tight-knit family of renegades who have lived atop the rugged Shay Mountain for over two hundred years and have their own rules. They will fight to defend their way of life from the town below.
Series creator Peter Mattei points out that the idea of people trying to hold on to what they have and protect their family is topical at any time.
“It was certainly what I was thinking about when I first started to write this thing. There’s obviously some really big differences between the Farrell Clan and the people in Oregon. The Farrells are holding onto land that they’ve been living on for over 200 years, so it’s basically their land as opposed to them trying to take someone else’s land,” Mattei says. “And they don’t really have a huge beef with the government. They just want to live the way they live and they’re going to have to fight the power in order to do that.
“I hope that it resonates with people all over the place, whether they are fighting the power in Oregon, like those people, or whether they’re going to Burning Man and trying to live free in a sort of a small way that way. I think that it’s got a lot of resonances.”
To tell this story that is part “Sons of Anarchy” and part “Hatfield & McCoys,” an ensemble cast was put together including David Morse, Thomas M. Wright and Ryan Hurst.
Hurst likes the idea that this is a show about guys on ATVs, wearing animal pelts, riding through a Big Lots store, and it is already provoking discussions of the Second Amendment.
“I think it’s a really strong indicator of how this show is tapping into things on a lot of different levels. I’m really proud of the fact that we can do that,” Hurst says.
It was executive producer Paul Giamatti who saw the story first as the script was sent to his production company, Touchy Feely Films. Giamatti tends to be attracted to more urban and white-collar projects, so agreeing to be part of the series was a big move for him.
“You might think I wouldn’t be interested in something like this, but it has kind of genre elements to it that I actually am very drawn to, that I actually do, as a viewer, like to watch,” Giamatti says. “I don’t as an actor get to do a lot of stuff like this. I don’t get to play bad-ass guys, ATVs, a whole hell of a lot, but I do like watching that kind of thing.
It’s got a juicy kind of genre feel to it that really appealed to me. I thought I hadn’t seen anything quite like this.
If Giamatti or any other cast members need help with their roles, they can always turn to Hurst, who portrayed Harry “Opie” Winston on “Sons of Anarchy” before landing the role of Little Foster on “Outsiders.”
Hurst, a tattoo fanatic, has been helping with the ink the characters wear. He sees the ink as a very specific way to reveal clues about the characters.
- 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, WGN America