Lauren Hissrich, the showrunner for The Witcher, recently took a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) where she addressed all sorts of questions from fans. Among those were a couple of questions from u/ChrisRedfieldFanboy regarding why some aspects of potions/magic were not addressed in the series and how long fans have to wait in-between seasons. Here is Lauren’s direct response:
We don’t yet have a target launch date for S2, past 2021. We don’t want to rush the product. That doesn’t benefit anyone.
And we decided to save some tidbits of witcher lore until… you actually meet more witchers. :)
Reddit user /u/Nike_victory asked a couple of other questions which involved somewhat of a spoiler to those who have not read the books, so you can skip them and jump right down to the quote from Hissrich if you prefer.
- In your post about the pitch for the show you said that in the finale Yen is blinded (as in the books) but we just saw her bleeding from her eyes and disappearing due to the amount of magic she used. So will we see her blind indeed?
- The books are a huge source material, can you explain how you decide what to include in the series and what not?
I can’t spoil S2! So you’ll have to wait on the Yen question. But — the story will be much more linear, now that the three characters’ stories have started to intersect.
There are a lot of really good questions on the AMA, many of which are focused on creative choices and asking why the writers/producers made them. We can’t go into all of them here, so you will have to seem all for yourself if you are interested. However, there were a couple of other interesting responses from Hissrich that we want to touch base on, such as when one user asked about cast diversity.
From u/JagerJack7, who probably asked one of the more critical but fair questions, compared The Witcher to Game of Thrones, the latter of which had a very diverse cast due to various cultural representations through the fictional regions of Naath, Sothoryos, Dothraki. JagerJack7 inquires as to why we just saw randomly diverse characters without addressing their origins or background to make them more than just one-dimensional “POC” or person(s) of color. JagerJack7 asks why they did not explore the non-white cultures that exist within The Witcher, and adds that Hissrich and her crew “wasted so much money on action scenes but couldn’t somehow make all these fictional races feel nonhuman”. Adding that “dwarfs are just humans with dwarfism. Dryads are a multiracial amazon tribe. Elves are just humans with different ears” and asks if there is any hope for improvements on these topics in the future. Lauren Hissrich’s response was quite lengthy:
Ah yes, the hot topic!
The discussions about race in the writers room, with the producers, and with Andrzej himself were long and varied. We talked about the history of the Conjunction of the Spheres (are all humans out in the ether the same color? Did the Conjunction drop certain races in certain areas?), we talked about the Continent being a huge place (are we to believe that people don’t migrate?), and we talked the most about how racism was presented in the books. Like all readers, we always came down on the side that racism in the books is represented by species-ism — humans vs. elves vs. dwarves vs. gnomes vs. halflings vs. monsters and so forth. It’s not about skin color at all. You don’t notice skin color when instead you’re looking at the shape of ears, or the size of torsos, or the length of teeth.
Furthermore, in the books, there are a few mentions of skin color, usually “pale” or “wind-chapped.” Andrzej very specifically didn’t add in many details of skin color, he told me himself. Readers generally make assumptions (typically, unless otherwise noted, believe characters to be the same color as themselves). That said, the general assumption is that everyone in The Witcher is the same color, which is why all the focus is on species.
Because it’s 2020, and because the real world is a very big and diverse place, we made a different assumption on the show. That people don’t pay attention to skin color — not because they’re all the same color, but because the bigger differences are about species, not skin. If you went to your local supermarket and there were people with horns and tails, do you really think you’d be paying attention to how much melanin is in their skin?
Maybe the answer is yes. Clearly, it is for some people! But it wasn’t for us, the writers and the producers.
And finally, the last question that caught our attention was when u/anonymous_1242 inquired whether Lauren herself considered a “storyteller/narrator for the time jumps”. Anonymouse_1242 goes on by saying the following:
- To elaborate a little more. : What i [sic] envision is (first scene of s01e01) a camera showing a countryside tavern on a raining evening, and slowly entering trough [sic] a window. Showing a rough carved wooden table with a mysterious/sinister person (a bard) in the corner, lighted by dim candlelight and surrounded by interested peasants. Than [sic] in the spirit of “let me tel [sic] you a story” and introduction is given by the bard and the kikimora fight starts. Now when a time jump happens, insert a cut scene of this mysterious bard (or his voice) clarifying the time jump. Storytelling (the books) and bards play a prominent role, and this could maybe deepen the immersion? Another plus, it could create some creative control, that can help as a problem solving [sic] tool. Give it some thoughts.”
Lauren’s response was much shorter on this one:
There’s a theory that The Witcher books are all “told” by our narrator, Jaskier. It’s an interesting thought, and we do try to include his commentary on Geralt’s adventures, via his songs. But we purposefully didn’t want someone constantly explaining what we’re about to see, and why. It was clearly a controversial choice!
There is a lot more to unpack from Lauren Hissrich’s responses to some other really great questions from the community and fans of the series. If you want to read all the questions and comments from Hissrich’s AMA, you can check all that out here.