A new drama focusing on young gay characters at the center of a dangerous plot has audiences buzzing this fall.
USA Network’s “Eyewitness” is an adaptation of the Norwegian crime thriller of the same name. The series explores a grisly crime from the point of view of the eyewitnesses: two teenage boys from different sides of the social tracks — Tyler, the social misfit, and Lukas, the popular jock — who had secretly met up in the woods to hook up, only to end up witnessing a shooting. They barely escape with their lives but what follows is a desperate struggle to keep their relationship a secret amid the fear of being found by the perpetrator in their small town.
Complicating things is Tyler’s foster mother, the town sheriff, who is on a mission to solve the crime the teens witnessed.
Show creator and executive producer Adi Hasak, also the mastermind behind NBC’s “Shades of Blue,” talked to PGN about the show.
PGN: How different is the American version of the show from the original Norwegian version?
AH: While structurally similar, it’s very different. First, we needed to make changes for the American audience; i.e., we had to simplify the dense plot and make the female protagonist — the sheriff — more proactive. We also spent much more time exploring the three main love stories: the sheriff and her husband, the two boys and the FBI agent and her sister.
PGN: Culturally and socially, how is the American setting similar and different than that of Norway?
AH: The show takes place in Tivoli, a small town on the Hudson River in upstate New York. It’s rural, picturesque and a couple hours away from a big city, much like the town that was featured in the original Norwegian “Eyewitness.”
PGN: Are Lukas and Philip more concerned about their peers or their families, in regard to being outed?
AH: Philip isn’t concerned; however, Lukas projects his own fears onto others and is deeply concerned about his father and his peers at school. But, as Philip will tell Lukas at one point, the only one who really has issues with Lukas’ sexuality is Lukas himself.
PGN: Do you think Philip or Lukas are sympathetic protagonists to whom LGBT youth could relate?
AH: Very much so. I’ve spoken to many young people who have seen the show, and even those in nurturing and loving environments have expressed how difficult it was to come out. I very much hope young viewers are inspired by both the characters of Philip and Lukas and their relatable journeys.
PGN: Do any of the adults in Philip or Lukas’ lives show any signs of being supportive?
AH: Yes. When Philip comes out to his mother it’s a beautiful, tender scene, and she is extremely loving and supportive. Without giving spoilers, I can tell you that Lukas’ concerns about the response to him coming out are not exactly on point.
PGN: What do you think will draw audiences to a show like “Eyewitness?”
AH: I hope audiences are drawn to the thriller, and — once hooked by the narrative — I hope they get drawn into the characters. This is mostly a rich character study hiding out inside a thriller.
“Eyewitness” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on the USA Network. For more information, visit www.usanetwork.com/eyewitness.