Netflix’s The Witcher EP Lauren Hissrich Explains Race Changes: America Has “Long and Checkered History of Enslaving, Abusing, and Deriding People Who Aren’t White”

Since the Netflix adaptation of The Witcher was announced, fans of the novels and games have generally approached it with skepticism.

Set in medieval Poland, The Witcher novels and games have long been celebrated for deep storytelling and gritty realism. However, following the casting announcements and the first trailer for the upcoming Netflix series, a number of fans feel the dark fantasy realism of the series will be thrown away in favor of agenda.

The Witcher series executive producer and showrunner Lauren Hissrich was recently asked why Hollywood appears to be constantly race and gender bending established characters specifically redheads. Hissrich would actually answer the question as it applies to The Witcher, but not before stating that America has a “long and checkered history of enslaving, abusing, and deriding people who aren’t white.”

“The books are Polish and packed with Slavic spirit. It was important to keep that same tone in our show,” Hissrich said. “With that in mind, I asked around (especially to Polish friends): can the Slavic culture be reduced solely down to skin color? The answer was resounding: god, we hope not.”

She would then note The Witcher is being made for “190 countries.”

Hissrich later added, “The Witcher is REALLY interesting when it comes to depicting racism because it’s about species, not skin color. What makes characters “other” is the shape of their ears, height, etc. In the books, no one pays attention to skin color. In the series… no one does either. Period.”

When asked about the casting choices and why characters such as Triss Merigold (traditionally a redheaded woman) looked so different compared to the source material, Hissrich would respond, “In terms of casting, we welcomed everyone and anyone to put themselves forward to prove they could embody the character. We saw all ages, all ethnicities, all levels of talent, from movie stars to fans in Poland who’d never acted professionally before. We chose the best actors.”

Finally Hissrich would summarize, “I’ve been clear about my actions not being a result of “feeling liberal.” I hope this explain my true motivations: Polish culture not being synonymous with whiteness; appealing to a wider audience; honoring the book’s allegory for racism; finding the best actors.”

Inequality between humans and other fantasy races has been present in The Witcher at times, but it has been on a species level.

Human characters in the books and games reflected the medieval Slavic setting and time period, and were depicted as Caucasian.

No premiere date for Netflix’s The Witcher series has been announced. However it’s supposed to launch later this year.

What do you think? Is this a case of Hollywood pushing an agenda or is it much needed representation?

Let us know in your feedback.

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