ABC’s new series “Big Sky” is a disgrace and misses the mark at an important moment.
2020 has been a year of immense hardship, but a silver lining has been the spotlight shone on unsung heroes—the real individuals who hold our society together. Not celebrity actors or professional athletes, but the quiet professionals on the frontlines who answered the call, performing acts of everyday courage without seeking fame or recognition.
This year also reminds us of the power of gratitude, and how far a simple “thank you” goes to lift spirits, heal wounds and form bonds. Doctors, nurses, first responders, truck drivers and all other frontline heroes deserve the praise of a grateful nation. There are no Emmy Awards for these working Americans, but the media can and should use their platforms to honor their sacrifices and selflessness.
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Unfortunately, ABC sees otherwise. While its news division got the story right, it seems its entertainment division didn’t get the memo. The network plans to air a new series, “Big Sky,” portraying truck drivers as serial killers and truck stops as hubs of prostitution and human trafficking. This representation is offensive, inaccurate, tasteless, ill-timed, tone deaf and shameful.
As the pandemic made clear, our country owes its strength to the resilience of the American trucker. When COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill, truckers kept moving. While other professions assumed the luxury of working from home, duty called truckers to the road. They’re the reason hospitals remained supplied, first responders remained equipped and store shelves remained stocked. They did so under unimaginable conditions. Early on, states rushed to close highway rest stops, leaving truckers with no place to eat, no place to rest, and no place to use the bathroom—as Americans stocked up on hordes of toilet paper.
But truckers didn’t complain. They forged ahead and got the job done so that everyone else could have the things they need. They didn’t ask for anything in return—but they’ll tell you the outpouring of support from around the country made a world of difference. That for them was the silver lining: For the first time, they felt Americans were widely recognizing the value of their work and how essential they are to our economy and standard of living.
Which is why “Big Sky” is so insulting and demoralizing. Many Americans are still unfamiliar with the trucking industry and the men and women who move our economy forward. They pass trucks on the highway, but they don’t know the faces behind the wheel. Their understanding of truckers is limited to what they see in mass media. “Big Sky” leaves an impression that is unflattering, untrue and unwarranted.
The job of a trucker isn’t easy. It demands a strong constitution, commitment to safety, dedication to service and periods of personal sacrifice. Time on the road away from home puts strain on them and their loved ones. Yet they assume the duty with a powerful purpose in mind: to provide — for themselves, for their families and for every one of us who enjoy the bounty and abundance of this economy.
In addition to delivering the essential goods that Americans need in their everyday lives, professional truck drivers are the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways. Not only do they have zero resemblance to the portrayal in “Big Sky,” but they are leading the fight to eradicate human trafficking through organizations like Truckers Against Trafficking. Since 2007, more than 2,496 calls have been placed to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, reporting 663 cases of potential human trafficking involving 1,230 potential victims.
Truckers are not serial killers—they are highway heroes. We’re respectfully asking ABC give the trucking industry complimentary airtime to run advertisements that fairly represent truckers and educate viewers about what the industry is doing to combat human trafficking through Truckers Against Trafficking.