NatGeo expands Morgan Freeman's 'Story' Franchise from God to Man in 'The Story of Us'

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06 October 2017

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL, Oct. 11, 9:00 PM ET

By Lori Acken

Several years ago, Morgan Freeman and his producing partners Lori McCreary and James Younger traveled the globe to explore the uniting power of faith for National Geographic’s smart and intensely moving The Story of God With Morgan Freeman, which bowed in 2016. Critically acclaimed and Emmy-nominated, the series debuted a shorter second season last January, even as the group was already at work on another approach to spotlighting global unity in a time where we can’t even get along with our neighbors.

The result is The Story of Us, airing Wednesdays beginning on Oct. 11. “We realized that religion is just one aspect of what keeps human society together,” Younger explains. “Love is a primal scaffolding in human society. Power and leadership — how people organize themselves into groups where they can be effective. That has been a constant. War and peace, same — a constant thing.

“[The Story of Us] is about bonds between people,” he continues. “What do we agree to do together? What do we yearn for together? What do we struggle with each other about?” And equally important to understanding the concept of us, adds Freeman, “Why do we develop these bonds? And what if people don’t bond?”

Thus, the “root of all evil” — money — enters the picture in several of the six Story of Us episodes. “Money does different things,” Freeman muses. “If I’ve got enough of it, I have an awful lot of control over you and your life. Awful lot. And that’s always caused rebellion. You’ve got all these have-nots starting to boil — and when that boils over, it’s gonna force a leveling. I think that’s in our future.”

But, Freeman reiterates, The Story of Us is about humanity — not the stuff we buy and build. “How do we define civilization? What is it really?” the 80-year-old icon offers. “When we say civilization, most of the time we mean cities and vehicles — what we see when we go out in the streets. But, when you go into the world, you find civilization in the jungle. The Amish say, ‘We don’t need that to live.’ And there are whole other groups of people who say the same thing: ‘We don’t need the trappings of civilization. We’re civilized.’”

On a personal level, Freeman calls the opportunity to explore the better part of human nature “life-assuring and self-assuring. Life is just a series of plateaus,” he smiles. “If you keep reaching for the next one up, you’re having a good time!”
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