Review: Now Apocalypse 1×1 (US: Starz; UK: StarzPlay)

California millennials date reptiles while the world ends

Now Apocalypse
Avan Jogia, Kelli Berglund, Beau Mirchoff and Roxane Mesquida in Now Apocalypse © Courtesy of Sundance Institute

In the US: Sundays, Starz
In the UK: Mondays, StarzPlay

Some TV shows beg you to emphasise a word in their title. Look at This is UsIt so badly wants you to say usThis is Us. Because it’s important. Because it’s saying something about human nature and human existence about us.

I’m pretty sure that the producers of Now Apocalypse want you to pronounce it Now Apocalypse. Because it’s just so now. Just so timely. Has so much to say about today’s young people.

But maybe they want you to emphasise Apocalypse. Because it feels like the Apocalypse couldn’t come sooner.

Now Apocalypse
Roxane Mesquida in Now Apocalypse

Apocalypse Generation Z

I’m middle-aged. I wasn’t when I started TMINE, but that’s writing for you. But even though I have been known to hang out with and work with millennials and Generation Zers, I’m still no longer one of the kids.

So I’ve no idea if Now Apocalypse is supposed to be a satire of this group, or even of what group it might be a satire: LA’s Generation Z, Generation Z in particular or just a bunch of dicks who hang out in California. Maybe you, young reader, will know.

What plot there is to Now Apocalypse can be summarised as follows: there’s a group of friends and lovers in LA. They complain about their dates to one another, while intermittently trying to get off with one another. And there may be reptile aliens in the dating pool. These may be weed-induced hallucinations, though.

Most of the drama revolves around Avan Jogia’s ‘Ulysses’, a “4 on the Kinsey scale” who mostly wants to get off with his flat mate, but occasionally has fantasies about his flat mate’s slightly Aspy (“I find social cues hard to read”), slightly sexy research scientist girlfriend (Roxane Mesquida). Then there’s his pal webcam girl Kelli Berglund, with whom he trades dating stories from time to time.

So far, so LA naval-gazy. But every so often Mesquida drops hints that the world is coming to an end and that possibly she might be an alien, which Jogia half picks up on, half ignores. That is, until he falls off his bike in a weed haze and finds a man having sex with a giant reptile in an alley.

Kelli Berglund in Now Apocalypse
Kelli Berglund in Now Apocalypse

Fluid

As the first episode doesn’t really go into the alien plot very much, what we’re left with is a bunch of really annoying young people navigating the dating scene and going through the usual problems of ‘open relationships’, people who only want sex, people who lie on their dating profiles et al, that have been the stuff of relationship advice columns for decades – just with the added vicissitudes of sexual fluidity, apps, Internet porn and being Californian to deal with.

While the sexual fluidity is new, it really doesn’t have much to add beyond slightly more explicit sex scenes than Man Seeking Woman had, for example. At the same time, it doesn’t have the jokes or the insight that you’d hope for in a show that’s a statement piece like this. I found myself drifting off several times while watching it, hoping that the show would make either its characters less narcissistic or the peril to the entire world more perilous but never achieving gratification on that score.

Then again, I’m not really the right age for the show, so maybe there’s a few Generation Zers out there with whom it will chime. But I suspect they’re all in California right now and probably not reading TMINE, so I’d advise everyone else not to bother with Now Apocalypse.

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