You can’t speak about Cosmos: Possible Worlds without mentioning Ann Druyan. Ann is not only one of the leading lights in science communication and education, but she is the architect of the Cosmos brand.
Ann co-wrote the original Cosmos in 1981 with her husband Carl Sagan, and has been the driving force between the two follow-up series since. So as Cosmos: Possible Worlds airs its season finale tonight on NatGeo (at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT with two back-to-back episodes), I re-connected with Ann to discuss what about this franchise still excites her decades later and why the series is still relevant.
“I don’t want to tell the stories that don’t move me or don’t excite me,” she explained. “Carl used to say – which was why he did so much public outreach when he such was a busy working scientist – he would say, ‘When you’re in love, you want to tell the world.’ And that’s how I feel about these stories. There’s not one of them that I don’t feel a certain degree of excitement about and if I don’t, it’s not going to be in Cosmos.
“We don’t feel that there’s some kind of obligatory amount of science that we have to cover as if it were a curriculum. We are following the inspiration and the excitement of conveying this information in the most compelling way we know how,” Ann continued. “And if it doesn’t move me or Brannon Braga, my co-writer, then we’re going to skip it.
“But one of the joys of writing a book and writing the show is the discovery, during the course of research, of untold stories or stories that make a scientific idea come to life.”
Ann also spoke about the impact that she hopes Cosmos: Possible Worlds leaves on the audience, particularly as it’s airing during the coronavirus pandemic that is causing many to look at the world we know in an entirely different fashion.
“The more you study the history of our species and the history of life, you realize that’s there no refuge from change. There’s no safe place in life. Life is dangerous and it always has been,” she reflected. “But we are descended from people who had their backs to the wall…and we’re here because of their struggles and their courage and their strength to go on and we have that in us.
“Here we are in the most intense drama of any time that I have ever lived through in my whole life,” Ann added. “Where seemingly the world has come to a complete standstill. Everyone is stopped in their tracks and it seems at this moment that things can’t get stranger than they are now. And yet, I know we have what it takes to get through this and to get through some of the nightmares that we’ve created for ourselves, [such as] environmental destruction and the change in our climate.”
It’s her hope that Cosmos becomes a tool that educates and inspires viewers about those challenges and how to meet them.
“”Everyone who worked on Cosmos was inspired by the notion that maybe Cosmos would be that thing that would make a difference in one person’s life here, one person’s life there. Where they’d be conscious of how tiny and precious this [planet] is,” she concluded. “That’s my hope and I really do believe that we have what it takes to meet this challenge. And that we’re in a process of an awakening to it.”
Cosmos: Possible Worlds airs Mondays at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on NatGeo.
Article content is (c)2020 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr.