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3 Body Problem’s David Benioff on the Show’s Grim View of Humanity’s Chances

Netflix’s 3 Body Problem—an adaptation of the first book in Liu Cixin’s highly acclaimed sci-fi trilogy—asks a lot of big questions and puts its characters through some agonizing decisions. But at its core, the show grapples with one big dilemma: whether or not humanity is worth saving from a threat that feels both existential and all too real.

At a recent press roundtable for 3 Body Problem, David Benioff—the series’ co-creator along with D.B. Weiss, Benioff’s Game of Thrones collaborator, and Alexander Woo—spoke about how the team approached that deeply complex narrative pivot point. (Spoilers have been redacted from his answer, in case you wanted to enter 3 Body Problem without any plot specifics.) “We did a lot of planning even before we started writing. We spent so much time talking about the show during the pandemic,” he recalled. “The books represent a fairly optimistic view, I think, of how humanity might come together in the face of an existential threat. Covid did turn out to be existential, but it was certainly a threat, and I wouldn’t say it showed humanity coming together in any meaningful way. In fact, it probably showed us splitting apart even more, and it definitely informed our writing of it.”

“Because if you think about if [humanity found out it might be doomed], is everyone going to suddenly, like, link arms and say, ‘We’re off to fight [against this]’? Or some people are going to say, ‘I don’t believe that. That’s a conspiracy. This is the U.S. government is doing this, or Elon Musk has been planning this’?,” Benioff continued. “There’s going to be a whole bunch of bizarre theories out there, and we probably won’t see humanity come together in any meaningful way. So yeah, the worth of humanity is a really good question.”

“At one point in the show, I think [Jovan Adepo’s character] Saul says, ‘If we stop having so many kids, the species will die out, and we don’t have to worry about this [impending doom] in 400 years.’ It seems like a fairly reasonable argument, like I kind of understood where he was coming from.”

3 Body Problem arrives March 21 on Netflix.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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