2019 has truly been the year of Wu-Tang content. Earlier this year, Showtime debuted the Wu-Tang docu-series Of Mics And Men and now Hulu is premiering a ten-episode scripted drama called Wu-Tang: An American Saga, which follows the group's friendships and lives, when they didn't know they were going to change hip hop culture forever. While the real Wu-Tang members aren't in Wu-Tang: An American Saga — at least, not in any prominent way — their behind-the-scenes involvement makes the series one of the most accurate retellings of the Wu-Tang Clan's story you'll see in any medium.
The series is executive produced by Wu-Tang members RZA and Method Man, and the show's array of consulting producers includes Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa, GZA, and input from the Estate of Ol' Dirty Bastard, who passed away in 2004. Of those members, the most hands-on in the production of An American Saga is undoubtedly RZA, whose youth serves as one of the central plotlines of the series, given new life by Moonlight actor Ashton Sanders. "You really get to see the dynamics that really exists between us," RZA told the Washington Post of An American Saga, "It feels authentic. The best thing I could get out of this experience really is a chance to live it and do it again."
Wu-Tang: An American Saga follows the crew's youth spent amidst a culture of racism, drugs, and violence that inspired many of the themes present in their work. The series even shows what the rappers were up to long before they ever made music together, which means also showing how they sold drugs and engaged in gang violence. "[RZA] was younger and much more of a savage, you know what I’m saying?" Sanders told the LA Times of the basis of his American Saga role, "he’s definitely grown since he was 16, 17, so I had to do a lot of research on who RZA was then."
Although the film's creators do admit that some liberties were taken when making the series. "For the most part, it’s a truthful telling of their story," says American Saga co-creator and writer Alex Tse in an interview with the LA Times, "there are certain things that really happened, things where a version of it really happened, and things that got moved around the timelines to work thematically." Beatrice Springborn, head of original programming at Hulu, said of how the series came to be in the same feature, "We’ve got a group of executives who are all huge hip-hop fans. But I’m also fascinated how men come of age and how mothers help men learn to be men — and you see that in this story. Also, how young men help each other learn to become men, and help each other grow up, without fathers in some cases.”
The series isn't an absolutely accurate retelling of the formation of the Wu-Tang Clan, which is standard for dramatized series that are based on real life. However, the hands-on involvement of RZA and the presence of nearly the entire Wu-Tang Clan (U-God and Cappadonna are absent from the list of consulting producers) suggests that anyone looking to understand how it felt to be a pre-36 Chambers member of the Wu-Tang Clan will be pleased with the final result of Wu-Tang: An American Saga.