September 27, 2022
'Under the Banner of Heaven' Creator Cautions Taking “Dangerous Steps Back” in History

Under the Banner of Heaven was a personal story for showrunner Dustin Lance Black — not in the obvious, more extreme ways, but in growing up Mormon and noticing the similarities between the real Brenda Wright Lafferty and his mother.

The FX series, which is based on the true-crime novel of the same name by Jon Krakauer, follows the aftermath of the 1984 brutal murders of Brenda and her 15-month-old daughter Erica at the hands of her brothers-in-law.

The first similarities Black noticed between Brenda and his mother were their bravery and curiosity, which led them to question things not often questioned in the Mormon faith, or in general. “Meeting the book’s version of Brenda reminded me so much of my own home,” Black tells The Hollywood Reporter, now that the limited series has concluded.”It felt true, and it also helps me understand that it’s sadly not unique to my mother, or Brenda, that there are countless women in the Mormon church and other Christian faiths who are treated as less than whole human beings just because of their gender.”

On the surface, Under the Banner of Heaven may seem like a story about fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints, but Black says it goes beyond that. Brenda’s story, he explains, felt like a “cautionary tale” for the steps back America’s taking as a country. “I’m absolutely right now and with this series calling out a United States Supreme Court that has taken dangerous steps back into a history when we did not know better,” he says. “It is a fool’s journey, that we’re watching our court take right now. It’s the journey these brothers took, and it ended in bloodshed.”

» continue to Hollywood Reporter