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Everybody Must Watch the Absolute Greatest TV Present on HBO Max

At first, Station Eleven drove me nuts. After three episodes, I would fallen asleep not as soon as, however twice. I wasn’t simply pissed off with Station Eleven’s self indulgence — I used to be utterly bored.

A post-apocalyptic HBO Max miniseries set within the instant aftermath of a lethal and extremely contagious flu, Station Eleven is a present a couple of fictional pandemic — shot, produced and launched throughout an precise pandemic. However in lots of ways in which pandemic is subservient and unimportant. Station Eleven is a present about issues. About large concepts and themes. It is a present about survival. About trauma. About taking refuge within the transitive energy of artwork and the connective tissue of our shared humanity.

Learn extra: Overview: Station Eleven’s HBO Adaptation Got here at a Bizarre, however Good, Time

In different phrases: urgh.

From the outset, this can be a present that spells out grand ambitions in clear phrases. This can be a present that opens with King Lear. A present that makes flagrant use of Shakespeare as a story and framing gadget, but in addition has the gall to put itself on the middle of a grand literary canon. 

As soon as once more: urgh. The most important urgh I can muster. 

Three episodes deep I jumped into one in all CNET’s many Slack channels to unload on the present with my co-workers. It was self-indulgent. It was boring. It took itself method too critically. It was excessive by itself provide. It was basically flawed as compared with a present like, say, Yellowjackets – which masked its personal themes of trauma beneath the guise of a crafty and compelling thriller field present. 

“Station Eleven sucks.” I feel that is what I typed. I used to be incorrect. I could not have been extra incorrect.

Simply seven episodes later, on the present’s conclusion, I went crawling again to that very same workplace Slack, on my arms and knees, to inform everybody that – really – Station Eleven is likely one of the greatest TV reveals I feel I’ve ever seen in my life and that each human being alive ought to make efforts to observe it.

So pretentious

Himesh Patel as Jeevan and Matilda Lawler as young Kirsten in Station Eleven

Jeevan and Kirsten.

Parrish Lewis/HBO Max

My favourite second in Station Eleven happens midway by episode 9.

Jeevan, one of many present’s important characters, has been taking care of Kirsten, a baby actress obsessive about a comic book ebook – the titular Station Eleven. A comic book ebook she carries along with her in every single place as she travels within the post-pandemic world. A comic book ebook that offers her hope in determined circumstances. 

After trekking again to their residence base, Kirsten realizes she’s dropped the comedian ebook within the snow. Pissed off, not fairly understanding why it issues, Jeevan angrily stomps again into the wilderness to retrieve it. In the course of the search, a wolf assaults him, mauling him half to loss of life. As he crawls on his arms and knees, combating for survival in excessive subzero temperatures, he stumbles throughout the comedian ebook, buried within the snow. In full agony he begins studying it, earlier than tossing it apart, screaming: “IT’S SO PRETENTIOUS!”

It is an extremely cathartic second. To start with, it is humorous! A wonderfully timed second of comedy within the midst of a darkish, visceral second. I laughed out loud. However it’s additionally an acknowledgement, a crystalized second of self consciousness. The present is speaking about itself, on to its viewers. Sure, Station Eleven is pretentious. It is a present actively wrestling with large concepts – swinging for the fences, navigating the worth of artwork in a world full of struggling. 

However Station Eleven is additionally self-aware sufficient to know it is asking loads. Of its viewers, of itself as an leisure product. That is vital.

An enormous ask

Why ought to we care a couple of tv present? Why ought to any sort of artwork matter? In a world the place I discover myself drifting away from so-called “status TV,” Station Eleven pressured me to ask myself that query. 

Not too long ago I have been extra more likely to devour limitless, disposable anime, or binge watch feel-good actuality reveals like Outdated Sufficient and The Nice British Bake Off. Given what we have all gone by during the last two or three years, it has been troublesome to summon the “large mind vitality” required to get pleasure from a present like Station Eleven. A present that forces us to reckon with large questions and large concepts. 

Daniel Zovatto as the Prophet and Mackenzie Davis as Kirsten in Station Eleven

Station Eleven goes in instructions you may not count on.

{Photograph} by Ian Watson/HBO Max

That is exactly why I discovered Station Eleven so repulsive at first. Within the midst of COVID-19, a interval of ground-shaking political strife, you are actually gonna ask me to have interaction with a TV present a couple of touring troupe of Shakespearean actors performing Hamlet in a post-pandemic wasteland? That is a giant ask.

However Station Eleven works as a result of it guidelines on each potential degree. It is so simple as that. It is a well-written present, with nice performances and soundtrack that can hang-out you lengthy after you have completed watching. 

Station Eleven swings for the fences however hits the ball clear. It takes time to ship on its daring imaginative and prescient, however in case you stick by that preliminary gradual burn – combat by that preliminary repulsion – you will be rewarded with a present that has nuanced issues to say on each “Critical Subject” it dares to broach. This can be a present about households – actual and inherited. It is a present concerning the legacy of shared trauma. A present about artwork as a refuge. If that offers you the ick, I get it. However in a really actual universe the place we’re deep within the wilderness of our personal ache and struggling, Station Eleven is as important as tv will get. 



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