Station Eleven aggravated me at first.
Three episodes deep, I would fallen asleep twice. I wasn’t simply pissed off with what I perceived to be self indulgence – I used to be 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 few 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 huge 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: Evaluation: 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 heart of a grand literary canon.
As soon as once more: urgh. The largest 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 severely. 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 below 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 – truly – Station Eleven is likely one of the finest TV reveals I feel I’ve ever seen in my life and that each human being alive ought to make efforts to observe it.
My favourite second in Station Eleven happens midway via episode 9.
Jeevan, one of many present’s essential characters, has been taking care of Kirsten, a baby actress obsessive about a comic book e-book – the titular Station Eleven. A comic book e-book she carries together with her in every single place as she travels within the post-pandemic world. A comic book e-book that provides her hope in determined circumstances.
After trekking again to their residence base, Kirsten realizes she’s dropped the comedian e-book within the snow. Annoyed, not fairly understanding why it issues, Jeevan angrily stomps again into the wilderness to retrieve it. Throughout the search, a wolf assaults him, mauling him half to dying. As he crawls on his arms and knees, preventing for survival in excessive subzero temperatures, he stumbles throughout the comedian e-book, 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 huge concepts – swinging for the fences, navigating the worth of artwork in a world crammed with struggling.
However Station Eleven is additionally self-aware sufficient to know it is asking lots. Of its viewers, of itself as an leisure product. That is essential.
An enormous ask
Why ought to we care a few 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 compelled me to ask myself that query.
Not too long ago I have been extra prone to eat limitless, disposable anime, or binge watch feel-good actuality reveals. It has been tough to summon the “huge mind vitality” required to get pleasure from a present like Station Eleven. A present that forces us to reckon with huge questions and massive concepts.
That is exactly why I discovered Station Eleven so repulsive at first. Within the aftermath of COVID-19, a interval of ground-shaking political strife, you are actually gonna ask me to interact with a TV present a few 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 attainable stage. 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 when you stick via that preliminary gradual burn – struggle via that preliminary repulsion – you may be rewarded with a present that has nuanced issues to say on each “Severe Matter” 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 provides 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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