Three episodes deep into Station Eleven, I used to be furious. Furious but additionally extraordinarily bored.
Not solely had I fallen asleep making an attempt to look at the present (twice) however I would additionally shortly grown annoyed with its self indulgence.
From the outset, Station Eleven is a present that spells out grand ambitions in clear phrases.
A post-apocalypticmini-series set within the rapid aftermath of lethal viral 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.
In different phrases: Urgh.
It is a present that opens with King Lear. A present that makes flagrant use of Shakespeare as a story and framing gadget, but additionally has the goddamn gall to put itself on the centre of a grand literary canon.
As soon as once more: Urgh. The largest urgh I can muster.
Three episodes deep I jumped into certainly one of CNET’s many Slack channels and unloaded on the present to my coworkers. It was self indulgent. It was boring. It took itself means too critically. It was excessive by itself provide. It was basically flawed compared to 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 believe that is what I typed. I used to be fallacious. I could not have been extra fallacious.
Simply seven episodes later, on the present’s conclusion, I went crawling again into that workplace Slack, on my arms and knees, to inform everybody that – truly – Station Eleven is without doubt one of the finest TV exhibits I believe I’ve ever seen in my life and each human being alive ought to make efforts to look at it.
My favourite second in Station Eleven happens midway by episode 9.
Jeevan, one of many present’s essential characters, has been taking care of Kirsten, a baby actress obsessive about a comic book guide – the titular Station Eleven, a comic book guide she carries along with her in every single place she travels within the publish pandemic world. A comic book guide that offers her hope in determined circumstances.
After trekking again to their house base, Kirsten realizes she’s dropped the comedian guide 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 dying. As he crawls on his arms and knees, combating for survival in excessive sub zero temperatures, he stumbles throughout the comedian guide, 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. 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 huge concepts – swinging for the fences, navigating the worth of artwork in a world full of struggling.
However Station Eleven is additionally self conscious sufficient to know it is asking quite a bit. Of its viewers, of itself as an leisure product. That is necessary.
A giant 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 pressured me to ask myself that query.
Lately I have been extra prone to devour countless, disposable anime, or binge watch really feel good actuality exhibits 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 tough to summon the massive mind power required to get pleasure from a present like Station Eleven. A present that forces us to reckon with huge 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 floor 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 effectively written present, with nice performances and soundtrack that can proceed to 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 if you happen to stick by that preliminary sluggish burn – battle by that preliminary repulsion – you may be rewarded with a present that has nuanced issues to say on each “Critical Subject” it dares to broach. It is a present about households – each actual and inherited. It is a present in regards to 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.