'You, Me and the Apocalypse' Wants to Be Silly, Is Not Silly
There is a serious disconnect between intention and end product crippling this show.
We haven’t been covering You, Me and the Apocalypse since the pilot because, honestly, there was no real change from our earlier assessment. The show with a great cast and a fun premise seemed dead on arrival, and so many of the practical structural elements, from the hour long runtime to the flashback device giving a month of setup, have resulted in a kind of crippling disconnect between what the show wants to be and what we wind up enduring on screen.
I wasn’t aware of this problem until a friend mentioned that the show’s brand of silliness wasn’t for everyone. “Silliness?” I thought. “There’s nothing about this show I would describe as silly.” And that’s the problem. That’s exactly what the show thinks it’s doing, and I was completely unaware.
Three episodes in, we’ve introduced to a half-dozen new characters, including a cross-dressing Nick Offerman, and there’s still yet to be a relatable, or even particularly interesting, character. I’m the first person in line for a show with deliberately un-relatable leads, but this just seems like they’ve missed the point or have somehow overcomplicated the narrative to the point where no one has a chance to breathe. The second and third episodes were small improvements from the pilot, in that they did take some time to let these leads get comfortable in the space, but everyone is still such a thinly developed archetype that it’s difficult to not refer to them as The Racist One or The Black One. I still don’t remember a single name. The main protagonist has roughly 90 percent of the backstory in the show, and most of that was set up in the pilot as being probably a lie. Much like my problems with Silicon Valley, it’s another show where talented, funny people have been brought together to do absolutely stagnant scenes.
But what is it like to watch the show understanding that it is perhaps aiming for a deliberate silliness in all of this overwrought heart-strings tugging and floundering narrative? It’s … a little better? The third episode features a subplot where Rob Lowe and The Nun One help a little girl dressed like a giraffe escape from a morgue because she might be the second coming of Jesus. The beats are played too serious, but that’s such a funny concept. Right?
Maybe, especially in re-reading my takedown of the pilot, this is the sort of show that’s funnier as a summary? This isn’t a defense or even a positive thing to say, because it means that good ideas that went up on the storyboard found no execution, but it does mean that there’s potential here.
The worst thing the show can do is spend an entire season with people engaged in little road-trips and side-quests unrelated to any overarching plot. The show’s introduction of a government-sponsored distraction to keep the populace busy despite having no hope of survival — that seems an on-the-nose summary of the pitfalls the series itself is in danger of drowning in. So let’s get weird. Let everyone explore their baser instincts and let a few of these actors go big instead of either wallowing in misery and coming off too dumb or confused to take the apocalypse seriously.
I don’t want this show to die in a fire, because there are lights at the end of a few different tunnels. But just like the people of Earth within the show, time is running out.