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Who Is Mason Alexander Park Playing In Netflix's The Sandman?

A film or TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" comics has been in development hell almost since the comics' debut in 1989. One version shepherded by hairstylist-turned-"Wild Wild West” producer Jon Peters saw protagonist Dream as a caped crusader type who gets trapped on Earth during a teen slumber party. Y2K raves would have heavily factored into that story. Now, it looks like a "Sandman" TV show is finally going to happen at Netflix.

"Sandman" was one of the breakout comics for DC's adult-oriented Vertigo imprint. It told the story of Dream, one of the Endless. The Endless were manifestations of life's various pleasures and torments: Death, Destiny, Dream, Desire, Despair, Destruction, and Delirium. In the first book of the series, Dream is captured on Earth by a magician, setting off a chain of events on Earth, in Hell, and beyond, which will change the Endless forever. Dream, Death, Desire, and Despair have all been cast. Tom Sturridge will star as Dream, Kirby Howell-Baptiste ("The Good Place") will play Death, and Despair will be played by Donna Preston. Desire will be played by someone who will represent the character as accurately as possible.

Neil Gaiman has defended Mason Alexander Park

In the comic books, Desire is nonbinary. They embody every desire a being can have, and thus cannot be tied down to any one gender. Mason Alexander Park is a nonbinary theater star, who came to prominence as Hedwig during a nationally-touring production of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." Apparently, some people didn't quite understand that Desire always transcended gender, because some people got mad. Gaiman responded to critics of the casting by essentially calling them out as fake fans, tweeting that Desire had always been nb, "But you'd have to have read the comics to know that. And the shouty people appear to have skipped that step." 

Some folks also criticized the casting of a Black woman as Death, arguing that Howell-Baptiste was cast as token diversity. This also ignores the fact that Death always appears to people as a reflection of themselves, and thus could be and has been Black before. "I give zero f***s about people who don't understand/ haven't read Sandman whining about a non-binary Desire or that Death isn't white enough," Gaiman tweeted. "Watch the show, make up your minds." Everyone, shouty or otherwise, can watch Park as Desire when Netflix wraps production on the "Sandman" adaptation, hopefully some time soon.