While we’ve gotten used to CRISPR-Cas9 blanketing the science news and even inspiring #CRISPRfacts, now we’re getting CRISPR in our mainstream TV shows. The new Marvel Netflix show, Luke Cage, used CRISPR genome editing to explain Carl Lucas’ transformation into superhero Luke Cage.
Ahhhh! CRISPR mention on Luke Cage!
— Ed Yong (@edyong209) October 5, 2016
But that CRISPR shoutout was dwarfed when the Hollywood Reporter announced Jennifer Lopez’s new NBC tv project called ‘C.R.I.S.P.R.’, and yes it’s really named for ‘clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats’. The show is described as a ‘procedural thriller’ that each week will ‘explore a bio-attack and crime’
Thoughts on potential CRISPR tv show? Is there a show you'd like to see starring genome engineers? https://t.co/l7O2Y6GLLD
— PLOS Synbio (@PLOSSynbio) October 20, 2016
Science twitter was filled with what could mostly be called incredulousness. For one, there’s little faith that the science in each episode will be at all accurate. More importantly though, it’s likely from these early reports that the show will focus more on stoking fears of genome editing technologies than conveying any sense of scientific truth.
.@PLOSSynbio Glad the idea of DNA hacking is going mainstream. Unfortunate that it's in the context of bioterrorism. Also… terrible name!
— Khalid K. Alam (@BiochemPhD) October 21, 2016
Twitter users were quick to register their concerns about portrayals of genome editing and synthetic biology in TV storylines that supposed to explore the “battle for control over the human genome”. Some people had fun with the idea though, and Wired even sketched out a full season for them complete with a Jennifer Doudna guest appearance.
— Sri Kosuri (@srikosuri) October 19, 2016
Doudna herself avoided getting too excited over CRISPR on TV(or any guest spots for that matter). She told Motherboard, “It is important to introduce it to the public and characterize it correctly but we must remember that this show is dramatized science fiction.”
We’ll have to wait and see if the ‘C.R.I.S.P.R.’ script order comes to fruition as a full show, but in the meantime you can read what it’s really like to pursue bioterror threats. O if you get your own idea for how you’d put CRISPR technologies in TV, let us know on Twitter @PLOSynbio.