Naughts and Crosses poster

Noughts + Crosses

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Why it’s worth your time:

Award-winning British author Malorie Blackman’s bestselling YA series presents an alternate history in which Africa conquered and enslaved Europe 700 years ago, creating a sharply segregated modern society known as Albion.  Power is held by wealthy Black citizens (known as “Crosses”), while white citizens  (“Noughts”) are poor, oppressed, and often the victims of  state violence.

The story pivots around the upper crust Sephy Hadley (Masali Baduza), the daughter of a Cross politician who befriends a Nought named Callum McGregor (Jack Rowan), a member of the white underclass — who are on the brink of a revolt.

BBC One's Noughts + Crosses
Copyright: BBC One Digital Studios

The provocative and timely series originally aired on BBC One earlier this year, co-produced by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and the Oscar-winning Participant Media.  Yet when the U.S. trailer was first released in August, it generated some backlash.  As Amanda Rae-Prescott explains in Den of Geek: “The overly-simplistic “What if Africa colonized Europe?” tagline caused hundreds of potential Black to express their displeasure with the promo, as many people believe African civilizations would not have replicated the cruelty of colonization and chattel slavery. “

Yet Prescott and other writers — Black and white — have ultimately embraced the show’s importance.  From Ellen E. Jones at The Guardian:  “These Noughts + Crosses characters don’t yet have complexity and nuance to match its world-building… Even so, this is vital viewing.”

The takeaway:

The author and series producers could not have imagined the timeliness of the show’s premise — and its parallels to our current U.S. racial strife and revolt —  — but there in lies the show’s urgency.  It can jolt you out of your own skin to imagine living in someone else’s.

Watch it with:

Yourself.  At least the pilot.  Then join our Watercooler’s Binge Viewers Club.  This a series meant to provoke conversation and empathy.

Worth noting:

While the author behind the books was UK’s Child Laureate, this one is TV-MA mature.

Where to find it:

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