HBO Developing A Scripted Series About Elon Musk's SpaceX

HBO is about to add Elon Musk to the premium cable channel's iconic roster of characters.

A new report says that a SpaceX limited series is currently in development at HBO, centering on Musk's space exploration company, and Star Trek Beyond co-writer Doug Jung will serve as a writer and executive producer of the scripted SpaceX show.

Tech genius Elon Musk has an abrasive, flamboyant, bombastic personality – with the successes and failures he's had at companies like SpaceX and Tesla, he's exactly the type of person I'd gladly watch an in-depth documentary about. But despite having a robust documentary branch dedicated to making top-tier docs, HBO is choosing to take the scripted route here and develop a limited series about SpaceX. Variety describes the show like this:

It will document how Musk, in pursuit of his lifelong dream to make humankind a multi-planetary species, handpicks a team of engineers to work on a remote Pacific Island where they build, and launch, the first SpaceX rocket into orbit. It spurred a new era of privately funded space exploration, culminating in the first manned Space X launch of the Falcon 9 on May 30, 2020.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, the 2015 book by author Ashlee Vance, will serve as the inspiration for the series. Doug Jung, who created the TNT series Dark Blue and has writing credits on Mindhunter, Banshee, and more space-oriented fare like Star Trek Beyond and The Cloverfield Paradox, is on board as the chief creative voice bringing the show to life. Channing Tatum will executive produce with his Free Association production company colleagues Reid Carolin and Peter Kiernan, while Vance and former HBO Films president Len Amato will also produce.

Variety says Musk "is not attached to the show at this time". Personally, I'd much rather watch a documentary about the real guy, showcasing all of his missteps and achievements in all of their complexity, than to see a scripted series which could end up lionizing a guy who has publicly said and done some pretty questionable things (among many ignorant tweets, he downplayed the coronavirus pandemic, suggested that social distancing should be ignored, and claimed that there would be "probably close to zero new cases in US too by end of April"). It's the Wolf of Wall Street all over again: sure, the story may be interesting, but by telling it right now, it may result in the controversial subject getting a boost that may give some viewers pause.