‘Shogun’ Won’t ‘Fetishize’ Japanese Culture Through ‘Western Eyes and Male Gaze,’ FX Promises

TCA 2018: “There’s a lot of really fun and fascinating work going on to try to balance the story out and tell it from both points of view,” John Landgraf says

Last Updated: August 3, 2018 @ 11:49 AM

FX will not be “exoticizing” Japanese culture in its upcoming limited series “Shogun,” the network’s CEO John Landgraf assured reporters during the Television Critics Association press tour Friday.

“I referenced, I think, in my comments that it’s really told from multiple points of view, not just the singular Western, white male point of view, so it’s told through many Japanese points of view,” Landgraf said when asked how the show would avoid “exoticizing” feudal Japan, in comparison to the ’80s miniseries adaptation starring Richard Chamberlain. “And there’s a lot of really fun and fascinating work going on to try to balance the story out and tell it from both points of view.”

The 10-episode series “Shogun” is based on James Clavell’s novel of the same name. Set in feudal Japan in the early 17th century, the story follows a mysterious female samurai and the shipwrecked English sailor John Blackthorne. Other key characters include Lord Toranaga, a shrewd, powerful daimyo, at odds with his own dangerous, political rivals and Lady Mariko, a woman with invaluable skills but dishonorable family ties, who must prove her value and allegiance.

“I’m learning and understanding things about feudal Japanese culture and religion that I never knew before,” Landgraf continued. “And we’re also casting — I mean we haven’t even announced the cast yet — but we’re casting really, really wonderful Japanese cultures. But I agree with your assessment that if you sort of just exoticized and fetishize Japanese culture through the Western eyes and male gaze, it would probably not fly. But I think there is an exciting opportunity to tell the collision of two cultures from both perspectives in a way that wasn’t done before.”

Prior to fielding that question during the Q&A portion of his executive session, Landgraf said, “the story of ‘Shōgun’ has captivated audiences since James Clavell first released his epic novel more than 40 years ago. The themes of an outsider encountering a new culture are as relevant today as then.”

Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich of DNA TV will executive produce with Michael De Luca, Michaela Clavell and director Tim Van Patten, Eugene Kelly and Ronan Bennett, who will write the series. Rachel Bennette will serve as supervising producer, and Tom Winchester from DNA TV will serve as producer. Georgina Pope will serve as co-producer and Eriko Miyagawa will serve as associate producer. “Shogun” will be shot in Japan and the UK, produced by FX Productions.

Read about what Landgraf had to say about the “Gilded Age of Television” during TCA here.