Bloodline is no Damages.
The trio of producers behind the long-running FX series took the stage Wednesday at the Television Critics Association semiannual press tour to field questions about their upcoming Netflix drama. Among the messages that Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman, and Glenn Kessler looked to communicate during their time in front of the press was that their new series, a family drama meets psychological thriller, is nothing like their previous one. “It doesn’t operate the same way,” said Zelman — and they didn’t intend for it to: “We wanted it to feel like a new challenge to us.”
Bloodline, which will bow March 20, features an impressive cast that includes Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini and Sissy Spacek, among others. The drama’s central theme? Evolving family roles — one that the creators feel is universal enough that everyone will be able to relate. The Rayburn family at the series’ core may seem like a normal, hard-working American family, owners of a successful hotel in the Florida Keys, but trouble arises when their black-sheep son, Danny (Ben Mendelsohn), returns home for his parents’ 45th anniversary. “It’s a meaty role to play,” Mendelsohn said from the stage, acknowledging of his character: “He’s their dynamite.”
The creators emphasized the flexibility and freedom that they’ve experienced at the streaming service. “We had 13 hours that we knew we were going to be able to tell the story with,” said Todd A. Kessler of the full-series order, adding: “That people can binge watch from one to another opened up a whole new level of nuance to us.”
Among those new challenges: the Florida Keys location, which they pushed for despite the locale’s relative lack of experience with professional production. “We’re chasing light a lot,” joked Norbert Leo Butz, who plays hothead brother Kevin, with Glenn Kessler noting: “We wanted a family to be known in their community without being a wealthy dynasty. The island nature down there is that it’s a very small world.” Even more, the paradise-like setting contrasts with the show’s dark tone.