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At first Station Eleven aggravated me. Three episodes in, I would fallen asleep not as soon as, however twice. I wasn’t simply annoyed with Station Eleven’s self indulgence – I used to be utterly bored.
A post-apocalyptic HBO Max miniseries set within the fast 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 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. It is 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 position 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 certainly one of CNET’s many Slack channels to unload on the present with my co-workers. It was self-indulgent. It was boring. It took itself approach too significantly. 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 unsuitable. I could not have been extra unsuitable.
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 without doubt one of the finest TV exhibits I feel I’ve ever seen in my life and that each human being alive ought to make efforts to look at it.
My favourite second in Station Eleven happens midway via episode 9.
Jeevan, one of many present’s foremost 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 along with her all over the 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 dwelling base, Kirsten realizes she’s dropped the comedian e book 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 demise. As he crawls on his arms and knees, combating 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 superbly timed second of comedy within the midst of a darkish, visceral second. I laughed out loud. Nevertheless 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 rather a lot. Of its viewers, of itself as an leisure product. That is vital.
Why ought to we care a few tv present? Why ought to any type 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.
Lately I have been extra prone to devour limitless, disposable anime, or binge watch feel-good actuality exhibits like Previous Sufficient and The Nice British Bake Off. Given what we have all gone via over the past two or three years, it has been troublesome to summon the “large mind power” required to take pleasure in a present like Station Eleven. A present that forces us to reckon with large questions and large concepts.
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 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 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’ve got 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 if you happen to 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. It is 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.