Forget dragons, HBO is dealing with gods and goddesses next in the network’s latest post-Game of Thrones acquisition, Circe. Based on Madeline Miller‘s bestselling 2018 novel of the same name, Circe tells the story of the banished nymph who romanced the mortal Odysseus in The Odyssey from her perspective, following her transformation “from an awkward nymph to a formidable witch, able to challenge gods, titans and monsters alike.” It may be the kind of feminist-bent fantasy that Game of Thrones fans will need.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO has given Circe a straight-to-series order with Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Planet of the Apes, Jurassic World) are on board to write and executive produce the drama series from Chernin Entertainment and Endeavor Content. The duo have experience with female-led content, as they also share screenplay credit on Disney’s 2020 live-action re-do of Mulan.
“Circe tells an epic story of love, loss, tragedy and immortal conflict, all through the eyes of a fierce female lens. I’ve been a longtime fan of Rick and Amanda’s work and their ability to simultaneously build epic imaginative worlds while creating emotional dynamic characters,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of originals at HBO Max. “In partnership with Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping, we have the dream team to bring Circe to life.”
The eight-episode series will make its way to WarnerMedia’s new streaming service HBO Max which, contrary to how its name sounds, isn’t the hub for HBO erotica, but a slew of intriguing scripted originals including a female-focused Dune show; the Kaley Cuoco-led thriller The Flight Attendant; an update on Gossip Girl; an animated Gremlins prequel; the Anna Kendrick comedic anthology Love Life; the comedy Made for Love; the limited series Station Eleven; and the thriller Tokyo Vice, starring Ansel Elgort.
Here’s the book’s official synopsis (via Amazon):
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.
Revisionist retellings of ancient myths and classic novels seem to be all the rage these days, and I for one welcome it. In the wake of Game of Thrones‘ shaky depiction of its female characters, more female-led fantasy epics could provide a much-needed breath of fresh air, while putting a twist on a classic story that can’t be accused of ruining anyone’s childhoods.
No cast or premiere date has yet been set for Circe.
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