PBS announced today that it has given the greenlight to a second season of Mercy Street, PBS’ first original drama in more than a decade. The first season was executive produced by Ridley Scott (The Martian, Gladiator, Thelma and Louise); David W. Zucker (“The Good Wife” and “The Man in the High Castle”) of Scott Free; Lisa Q. Wolfinger (“Desperate Crossing, The untold story of the Mayflower”) and David Zabel (“ER”).
“We are thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive response to ‘Mercy Street’ and the return of high-quality American drama on PBS stations,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Officer and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “We’re looking forward to a second season offering more fascinating stories inspired by historical events. The effort from everyone involved, including the producers, directors, historical consultants, actors and PBS stations, resulted in an extraordinary series that exemplifies PBS’ world-class programming.”
Mercy Street’s first season took place in the spring of 1862 in Alexandria, Virginia, a border town between North and South and the longest-occupied Confederate city of the war. Ruled under martial law, Alexandria was the central melting pot of the region, filled with civilians, female volunteers, doctors, wounded soldiers from both sides, free blacks, enslaved and contraband (escaped slaves living behind Union lines) African Americans, prostitutes, speculators and spies. Mercy Street follows the lives of all of these characters, who collide at Mansion House, the Green family’s luxury hotel, which has been taken over and transformed into a Union Army hospital.
Season two picks up directly from the dramatic events at the end of the season one finale, continuing to explore the growing chaos within Alexandria, the complicated interpersonal dynamics of Dr. Foster, Nurse Mary and the Mansion House staff, the increasingly precarious position of the Green family and the changing predicament of the burgeoning black population. The season will introduce a number of new elements, taking us closer to the fight and into the halls of Confederate power, all set against the intensifying war, starting with the Seven Days’ Battle and culminating with Antietam.
“It has been a privilege for all of us on ‘Mercy Street’ to be able to tell these stories at the intersection of drama and history, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to build on what we’ve already done,” said co-creator and executive producer David Zabel. “The quality entertainment and educational value that ‘Mercy Street’ provides have made the show a perfect fit for PBS, and we’re elated that the first season has resonated with its audience.”
“The success of season one of ‘Mercy Street’ proves how captivating this series is and how viewers have identified and connected with the characters’ lives, even during a much different time in our nation’s history,” said executive producer David W. Zucker. “We are looking forward to continuing to expand on these important themes with the next season.”
“Several years ago, I went searching for a fresh take on the Civil War and stumbled on the world of Union-occupied Alexandria, Virginia,” said co-creator and executive producer Lisa Q. Wolfinger. “The history inspired us to create a complex ensemble drama about life on the home front told from multiple points of view: women, African Americans, doctors and civilians. This wasn’t easy or glamorous history; it wasn’t about battles and glory; this was challenging material rife with provocative themes and fully three-dimensional and often flawed characters. In so many ways, PBS was the perfect fit for us. The fact that ‘Mercy Street’ has been so well-received by PBS’ audiences is exhilarating. We are looking forward to season two and the opportunity to expand our storylines while digging deeper into this pivotal time in American history.”
The ensemble cast for season two of Mercy Street includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“The Returned,” The Spectacular Now) as nurse Mary Phinney, Josh Radnor (“How I Met Your Mother,” Liberal Arts) as Dr. Jedediah Foster, Gary Cole (“Veep,” “The Good Wife,” “Entourage”) as James Green, Sr., Hannah James as Emma Green, Brad Koed Jr. as James Green, Jr., Norbert Leo Butz (“Bloodline”) as Dr. Byron Hale, Tara Summers (“You’re the Worst,” “Rake,” “Boston Legal”) as nurse Anne Hastings, McKinley Belcher III (“Show Me a Hero,” “Chicago PD”) as Samuel Diggs, Jack Falahee (“How to Get Away With Murder”) as Frank Stringfellow, AnnaSophia Robb (“The Carrie Diaries,” The Way, Way Back, Bridge to Terabithia) as Alice Green, Donna Murphy (“Resurrection,” “Hindsight”) as Jane Green, Suzanne Bertish (“Rome”) as Hospital Matron Brannan, and Luke Macfarlane (“Brothers and Sisters,” “Over There”) as Chaplain Hopkins.