Hey, Great, Another Goddamned Show About a Deadly Pandemic


A man in a heavy winter coat and holding a baseball glove stares at a young girl in a yellow coat and gray cap.

Station Eleven aims to find hope amid the apocalypse.
Photo: Ian Watson/HBO Max

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A mysterious plague appears out of nowhere, the world is completely unprepared for it, and countless people die. If this sounds like an appealing premise for a TV series that is not The Walking Dead, The Stand, The Strain, Containment, The Last Ship, and all the other shows about viral outbreaks, then HBO Max’s Station Eleven may be for you!

Based on Emily St. John Mandel’s bestselling, Arthur C. Clarke award-winning science fiction novel of the same name, Station Eleven sounds like it does have a lot more going on than just an abundance of illness-related deaths. Here’s the synopsis and trailer: “A post-apocalyptic saga spanning multiple timelines, this limited drama series tells the stories of survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what’s been lost.”

Based on a glance at the book’s Wikipedia page, I feel confident in saying the show doesn’t have different timelines—this isn’t a multiverse, thank goodness—but different storylines which are set in different times during and after the pandemic. Presumably, the show will bounce back and forth between them just as the book does, to reveal some surprising connections.

To be fair to Station Eleven the novel, it was written in 2014, so I can’t really hold its subject matter against it. (Besides, I’m assured by the most esteemed of colleagues that the book is quite good.) And in fairness to Station Eleven the TV series, it also looks quite good, if somewhat baffling. (If you happen to coincidentally have read the book’s plot summary on Wikipedia, things make marginally more sense.) But man oh man do I have less desire than ever to watch a TV series that revolves around a global pandemic. Hell, I don’t even like the global pandemic I’m living in!

The 10-episodes series Station Eleven premieres on HBO Max on December 16, just in time for holiday viewing. It stars Mackenzie Davis, Himesh Patel, Daniel Zovatto, David Wilmot, Matilda Lawler, Philippine Velge, Nabhaan Rizwan, Lori Petty, Gael Garcìa Bernal, and Danielle Deadwyler.


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