NBC’s ‘Timeless’ Will Be Chock-Full of Racism

TCA 2016: Malcolm Barrett’s character must deal head-on with the bigotry of the past, producers say

Timeless every time travel change
Joe Lederer/NBC

NBC’s “Timeless”: Come for the time travel, stay for the ignorance.

The coming procedural drama will drag Malcolm Barrett, Matt Lanter and Abigail Spencer back into the past every week. That will be unpleasant at times for the African American Barrett’s character, Rufus.

In the pilot, he tackles the unfortunate reality head-on with an epic speech about Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan and Mike Tyson, and how he hopes a bigot from the 1930s lives long enough to appreciate their talents. Of course, that energy (and time-spend) can’t be replicated each hour.

“He can’t give a big speech every single episode,” executive producer Eric Kripke told media members Tuesday at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.

“We have to play it realistically,” he continued, when asked about what Rufus will have to deal with from the old days. “We don’t sugarcoat it. The reality is he’s going to face all sorts of racism in the different periods that [he] is at.”

“One thing we’ve really explored … is that so much of history as we know it, is the history of rich, white dudes,” Kripke said. “And yet there’s so much untold history from a minority perspective.”

That’s something he and fellow executive producer Shawn Ryan want to expose on their freshman show, which will provide a unique opportunity for social commentary on the current goings-on.

“Timeless” debuts Oct. 3 on NBC.