A first look of the upcoming remake of Stephen King’s The Stand has been released by Vanity Fair, and yeah, the timing is super weird, guys. But I’m excited anyway.
The Stand has been one of my favorite books for the better part of the past two decades, so when our current pandemic broke out I was definitely firing off copious amount amount of Captain Trips jokes to try to deal with my mounting anxiety about the situation. But somehow the upcoming remake hasn’t really been on my radar despite the eerily similar circumstances we’ve found ourselves in and my enormous love of the novel.
Now, however, Vanity Fair has dropped a ‘first look’ at the upcoming series and I literally can’t think of anything else. This is all that’s on my mind. My favorite story, which just happens to be about a pandemic, is going to have a much needed reboot… in the middle of a massive pandemic. What the heck, man? Seriously.
Back at the beginning of March when the pandemic really started escalating in America, Stephen King was pretty adamant that the situation is not like his book. He tweeted out this opinion, perhaps partially as a reassurance to fans that we can survive this situation, and perhaps partially out of guilt that he’s the author of one of the most famous pandemic stories ever written and everyone keeps referencing it over and over and over again. (He did say he’s sorry that we all feel like we’re stuck in one of his novels, so there’s definitely some guilt there.)
No, coronavirus is NOT like THE STAND. It’s not anywhere near as serious. It’s eminently survivable. Keep calm and take all reasonable precautions.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) March 8, 2020
But now he’s giving the comparison a bit more credit and admitting that, yeah, this is pretty darn similar. In the Vanity Fair piece he states the following:
When you hear reports that 100,000 or 240,000 people are going to die, you’ve got to take notice, and it is going to be bad. It’s bad right now. It’s brought the economy to a complete stop. In a lot of ways, I mean, you see the pictures of Times Square or London, and you say, ‘It really is like The Stand.’
The quote with Vanity Fair ominously ends with him stating, “but the cars aren’t piled up, and nobody’s shooting each other yet.” The key phrase is ‘yet,’ though, as there was a pandemic related shooting a couple weeks ago. Things seem to be escalating on the civil unrest front as well as the actual virus front, and it’s pretty unnerving to watch play out.
To be fair, the virus in The Stand kills over 99% of the population on earth, whereas our current pandemic has a mortality rate in the single digits of those infected (though the exact figure is still to be determined as stats right now are a bit sketchy, we’ll likely have more solid numbers a few years after things settle down). And right now the number of serious incidents of civil unrest are fairly small in number (knock on wood).
Hopefully these statistics stay like this and we don’t have to keep comparing to his books. It’s bad, but it’s not The Stand bad.
All that said, the big question now is whether or not the world is ready for the most famous pandemic narrative to be released while we’re struggling to get through our own. I’m a big defender that disaster narratives have their place for people during stressful times (see: Is The World Too Dark For Black Mirror?) and I stand by that still, but even I’m a bit shaken by the timing of this. I’ve been binge watching disaster movies and shows and this shakes me a bit.
The new series is set to premiere sometime later this year on CBS All Access, though an exact date has not yet been set. It’s looking more and more like the virus could still be kicking around through the end of the year, though, so no matter when it actually gets released, we’ll still be dealing with the outbreak to an as of yet to be determined degree. We are a long way from normalcy, and unless they shelve this for years, it’s going to be released while the coronavirus is still fresh on our minds.
Despite my discomfort, I’m still incredibly excited to see this come to life. The original novel was published back in 1978, and a mini series was produced in 1994. While the book remains very near and dear to my heart, the mini series hasn’t aged well in retrospect.
Our special effects have advanced a great deal in the past 26 years, and the fashion in the mini series can sometimes be a bit much (Randall Flagg’s denim outfit and weird hair is pretty extreme, guys). Long before our current outbreak was ever a thing I’d been rooting for this to get a much needed update.
It’s hard to say what the right move is here, and I think it’s rather smart of CBS All Access to keep the release date a bit mysterious for now. They can keep their finger on the pulse of the societal attitudes towards disaster narratives and gauge if we can handle it accordingly. While a lot of us are clearly totally down for this type of story despite the weirdness, a lot of people simply are not.
I suspect they’ve got a team of people weighing the pros and cons, watching the mounting civil unrest as well as any aspects of the outbreak that might strike too close to home, and waiting to see when the right time to drop it might be. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they edit anything that’s too uncomfortably close as a precaution, though if it were me in charge of that decision I’d let it stand as a testament to the time in which the series was created prior to the outbreak.
We’ll see what happens later this year, I guess. Or next year. Or some vague year down the line, depending on what CBS All Access decides to do with this super weirdly timed reboot.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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