making history

History Channel Remembers They Have the Goods, Orders Donner Party and Bubonic Plague Miniseries

Vikings creator Michael Hirst hopes you’re up for a different kind of pandemic drama. Photo: Vincent Sandoval/Getty Images

Looks like someone over at the History Channel saw Chernobyl snap up those Golden Globes earlier this year and realized (hopefully with a spit take) that their brand is tailor-made for our modern love of gripping, grueling scripted docudramas. To wit, Variety reports the network has ordered two miniseries based on real-life events. And yes, before you ask: of course said events were terrible.

The Plague Years, written by Coleman Herbert and executive produced by Vikings creator Michael Hirst, will take us to 1655 London, during the last epidemic of Europe’s bubonic plague pandemic, which killed tens of millions across the continent. Per the show’s description, “Those who remain in the city, whether by choice or by fate, find their resolves tested and old wounds reopened, as they are faced with an impossible question: how do you keep going when everything around you has fallen to pieces?”

The second series, The Donner Party, follows James Reed and the ill-fated pioneer train on their journey West to California, where they infamously became trapped in the snowy Sierra Nevadas and were forced to hunker down through the winter of 1846. A harrowing tale even without survival cannibalism, but of course, there is also survival cannibalism. And if that can’t go up against, say, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, then truly nothing can.

History Channel Orders Up Donner Party, Bubonic Plague Shows