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Views from the Edge: New TV Season Explores the “Terror” of American Racism

Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

By Ed Diokno
Views from the Edge

A popular TV show, The Terror, will tell a story of another kind of terror in its second season — a fear that is as psychological as it is physical, and though set in the 1940s, just as relevant today.

The AMC anthology will be set during World War II and focus in one of the darkest chapters of American history. The storyline will center on an uncanny specter that menaces a Japanese American community from its home in Southern California to the internment camps to the war in the Pacific, according to an AMC press release.

President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance treatment of undocumented immigrants by putting parents and children in separate camps have drawn comparisons to the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

“We hope to convey the abject terror of the historical experience in a way that feels modern and relevant to the present moment,” showrunner Alexander Woo said in a statement. “And the prospect of doing so with a majority Asian and Asian American cast is both thrilling and humbling.”

I can’t help but think the new storyline was inspired by current events. The national hysteria that engulfed the nation during World War II led to the imprisonment of 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent; this is similar to the racist motivations spurred by the current administration under President Trump. The biggest difference is that during the second world war, Japanese American familiy’s were allowed to remain intact during their incarceration.

The first season of The Terror was based on a true story of survival of a British Royal Navy crew’s perilous voyage into uncharted territory searching for the Northwest Passage. The second season’s 10-episodes will feature an all-new cast featuring a host of Asian and Asian American characters.

“The Japanese American internment is a blemish on the nation’s conscience,” said Max Borenstein, an executive producer and writer. “I’m thrilled that AMC is giving us the chance to use that darkness as the inspiration for what I hope will be a trenchant, terrifying season of TV.”

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