HBO Max’s Station Eleven: Is It Worth A Watch?

On “Station Eleven”, HBO Max new miniseries, there’s a deadly virus rapidly spreading around the world and it claims the lives of millions around the world in a matter of weeks and changes civilization as we know it.  Sounds kind of familiar? Now that we’re heading into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it might be a bit disheartening to watch a show about the end of the world especially when it closely resembles the world that we live in. Throw in the fact that we’ve seen the “end of the world” fictionalized in on shows like “The Walking Dead”, “The 100” and “Black Summer”, the whole apocalypse genre has been done countless times. But Station Eleven offers a refreshing perspective in a saturated genre. Yes, there is plague, there’s loss, but more importantly, there’s hope and humor.

The Miniseries Is Based On A Book

Station Eleven is based on the best-selling science-fiction novel by Emily St. John Mandel with the same name. Developed by Patrick Somerville, the miniseries features Canadian actress, Mackenzie Davis best known for her role in “Black Mirror” and “Black Catch Fire”. If you had a chance to read the book, you’ll find that there are several small differences in the screen adaptation of Station Eleven. In the first episode, the two main characters that meet before the Flu outbreak become survival partners during the early days of the apocalypse. However, in Mandel’s book, these two characters have a brief interaction and end up going their separate ways. The novel follows three distinct timelines of several of the main characters offering a complete picture of their past, what caused this deadly virus, and more. Unfortunately, viewers don’t get a complete picture in the television adaptation at least not in the first couple of episodes.

What’s The Show About?

There are no flesh eating monsters or zombies that threaten the characters in this series. Rather the enemy is a mysterious flu that’s claiming lives left and right in the first episode. However, the series doesn’t entirely focus on this epidemic because the series time jumps at several intervals exploring the years leading up to this deadly epidemic, life during it, and twenty years after the plague occurred. While most apocalypse shows focus on the survival of humanity and the rebuilding of civilization, the characters in Station Eleven are committed to preserving culture through the Traveling Symphony. The Traveling Symphony is a theatrical group of survivors that travels to different areas uplifting villages with Shakespearian performances. The first episode begins with a scene of an abandoned theater with overgrown greenery and wild pigs. Seconds later the camera cuts to the last performance of King Lear on that theater. The main actor has a heart attack on stage and an audience member rushes on stage to perform CPR. The actor’s death was the catalyst of the plague.

Is Station Eleven An Actual Station?

So, where exactly does the term “Station Eleven” come from? Station Eleven is the title of a book that the actor who dies in the first scene hands to the young girl on stage. The young girl is a central character in the series and her knowledge of the book is actually what helps her save the lives of the people around her.

What Can You Expect From This HBO Max Series?

Station Eleven isn’t one of those easy shows that you can watch while cleaning the house. If you’re not paying close attention you might get overwhelmed by the timeline for the series explores the lives of the characters mid-apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic. Fortunately, the show creators do a great job at using color to distinguish between the sections. The post-apocalyptic scenes pop with natural hues dominated by shades of green from the pastures of the land creating a serene vibe. The mid-apocalyptic sections are dark and somber riddled with stark white thanks to the snow-covered streets. Is Station Eleven scary or gory? When it comes to shows in the apocalypse genre most people expect to be gripping the edges of their couch in fear. But have no worries. Station Eleven is much gentler than The Walking Dead franchise. However, in the first episode, there’s a twenty-second scene of a man dying from the flu in a car. Perhaps the most heart-throbbing scene is when a plane fell out of the sky and crashed right in the middle of Chicago. The novel does touch on sensitive topics like sexual assault, suicide, and death so there’s a chance that the series will also explore those themes. Most of the episodes are over about an hour long. Will you be tuning in this Thursday?

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