by: Julia Vaccarella ’20 A&E Staff
One of Amazon Prime Video’s newest original shows Hunters has been the source of much debate since its release on Feb. 21. Associated with big names such as Al Pacino and Logan Lerman and backed by Jordan Peele’s production company, the series has been advertised heavily leading up to its debut and even secured coveted commercial time during the Super Bowl. So far, however, the show’s reception has been greatly mixed.
Hunters follows a group of Nazi hunters tasked with searching for war criminals who intend to establish a Fourth Reich in the United States in 1977. Taking place in New York City, the show’s young protagonist, Jonah Heidelbaum, quickly learns that there are Nazis living in the country.
There are also extended references to comic books throughout the show. On multiple occasions, Lerman’s character is compared to Batman. Such a parallel is intended to signify that he is destined to be a part of this Nazi-hunting group rather than simply sit on the sidelines.
Throughout the series, the tone gravitates back and forth between heavy, emotional anecdotes of prisoners in Nazi concentration camps and the violent capture of Nazis thereafter. Alan Sepinwall of Rolling Stone asserts that the show “can be sober and thoughtful in one moment, gleefully trashy in the very next. At times, the energy of its grindhouse pastiche can feel addictive; at others, it just seems like the work of someone who’s sat through Tarantino movies too often.”
While countless reviews of Hunters have praised Al Pacino’s performance and other elements of the show’s plot, the series has also faced backlash for its lack of historical accuracy. Specifically, The Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum has argued that the show should not use realistic concentration camps to create false narratives of what actually went on there, arguing that doing so disrespects the memory of the camp’s real-life victims. This criticism specifically refers to a segment of the show in which prisoners were forced to participate in a human chess match.
The show’s creator, David Weil, has made it clear that it was not his intention to create any sort of controversy. In fact, his grandmother, to whom he has dedicated the show, was a survivor of the Holocaust. “The history is frustrating in that so many war criminals that were brought to trial, were never jailed or executed. It was a system stacked against Jewish people seeking justice. So, this is a show that, because of those modes of government, many of whom were complicit in bringing the Nazis into America, itself, seeks a different path and a different end result,” Weil explained in an interview about Hunters.
Given the sensitivity of the subject matter and the intense historical premise of the show, the criticism with which the show has been met thus far is understandable. As for the viewership of Hunters, the show has been doing exceptionally well since its release several weeks ago, and Weil has hinted at the potential for more seasons to come.