Imagine a world where there are no children. In Lifetime’s new drama series, there are only six children left. The human race is on the verge of extinction in one lifetime if a cure to the world’s infertility is not found. Astoundingly, one scientist, Dr. Alison Lennon (Marley Shelton), has miraculously been able to artificially fertilize 52 embryos. So the President calls for a lottery to select the lucky women to be surrogates. Yet in this time of relief and joy, suddenly Alison finds herself being hunted by the very government who commissioned her work. Just what secrets does it have to hide?
In an exclusive interview, star Marley Shelton talked about Alison’s drive to cure infertility and where her journey leads her in Season 1 of THE LOTTERY.
The show seems to have a bit of a sci-fi edge to it. Did you expect that at all?
MARLEY: I loved it. It’s interesting. It’s not like we’re trying to cast a broader net; it’s just that it is a very complex show. We’re trying to cover a lot of ground.
How would you describe your character, Dr. Alison Lennon? She seems a little driven, like she has a vested interest in solving the world’s infertility problem.
MARLEY: It was set up in the pilot pretty quickly that she is an orphan and was adopted. So she doesn’t have the classic family structure in terms of upbringing and she’s a bit of a loner. It’s the idea that she was abandoned, and its deeply rooted in her to solve this particular crisis and problem. Because she is a scientist, she felt very safe in her lab, like she could control her environment. Whereas, the rest of the world is chaos and uncontrollable. I think she is very strong and confident when she is in her lab, but when she is in the outside world it gets a little bit tricker for Alison. She has to interface with messy human beings.
It seems like Alison accomplished her goal, yet she did not want to let go of the project. She seemed to want to control it all the way from beginning to end.
MARLEY: Yeah, she finally did it and she just wanted to be able to fertilize more embryos beyond that first batch. So she’s like, “How could you take that away from me?” She feels there is still so much to do. Pretty early on, she becomes the mouth-piece for the government to let people know that there is hope.
Once she takes off on her own and tries to go on the run, is that going to work out for her? It’s hard to imagine she can successfully evade the government.
MARLEY: That’s just it. Alison is not a professional spy. She’s a scientist. The last thing she knows how to do is be on the run. So, no, it does not work out well for her. In episode 2, you’ll see what happens to her. It’s quite dramatic.
Will we start to see an intersection between the two storylines: Alison’s and Kyle’s? How quickly does that happen?
MARLEY: Yes. That starts in episode 3. Their worlds collide and it’s really cool.
Does Alison want to be a surrogate? Does she want to raise one of the fertilized embryos?
MARLEY: In the pilot, you see the she definitely wants to get pregnant. But it is not about being a mother, as much as it is seeing whether she can get pregnant; seeing if the science is working. Yet she is a little distracted by her own maternal instincts.
What do you most admire about Alison?
MARLEY: When I read the script, I loved how multi-dimension she was. It is interesting how all the characters in this story are really not black-and-white. They have noble pursuits, but they are also very myopic and deeply flawed. That, for me, is always fun to play. It makes for an interesting dynamic.
Is there room for romance in this dystopian world?
MARLEY: What is actually more interesting is: what happens to the sex drive when everyone knows they cannot procreate? Does that still exist? That is a whole other subject we start to explore.
To find out whether or not Alison has truly found a cure for the world’s infertility problem and why the government feels the need to track her down after she takes off, be sure to tune in for the premiere of THE LOTTERY on Sunday, July 20th at 10:00 p.m. on Lifetime.