We’ve seen the story on television many times before. Someone discovers a virus or asteroid is going to end the world and some people come together to save it. The brilliant, the successful and/or the rich typically become the heroes of these stories. That is until Hard Sun took the focus from the geniuses and put it in the hands of everyday citizens. With the focus on them, the series prompts the viewer to imagine how they would react if the world was going to end.
British series Hard Sun is about two mismatched police officers, Detective Inspector Elaine Renko (Agyness Deyn) and Detective Chief Inspector Charlie Hicks (Jim Sturgess), who are sizing one another up on their first case together when they learn the British government is covering up a mysterious comic event is going to end the world in 5 years. What began as an investigation of the death of a hacker in London quickly becomes running for their lives while being pursued by MI5.
The save-the-world narrative is replaced with dramatic personal arcs shaped by Hicks and Renko’s knowledge of the world end’s. Hard Sun examines how the pair’s personal lives and jobs change after learning there’s an expiration date on existence. Renko being tasked with investigating her new partner is the show’s strongest example.
The knowledge of the world’s end becomes the most important thing in her life yet her bosses want Hicks’s head on a spike and there’s increasing pressure on Renko to deliver. Renko cares less about what bad things Hicks may have done because they are working in tandem and tied together by this secret. The same can be said for the detectives’ personal lives. Hicks has a pregnant wife at home and is constantly balancing the happiness of expanding his family with the dread of the world their child is being born into. In spite of the impending catastrophe, these issues are pushed to the forefront and given equal weight, which gives the viewer a potentially more powerful connection to the story.
The series’ uniqueness comes from how it differs from other apocalyptic television shows. Many shows, including The Walking Dead and The 100, are set after the world as we know it has already ended. Shows about an impending crisis that could end the world typically center on the select few that could save it. Time-travelers travel across the ages in order to save the present on 12 Monkeys. Salvation has a billionaire scientist, a prodigy and the U.S. government teaming up to stop an asteroid from colliding with the Earth. A zoologist, safari guide, journalist and veterinary pathologist are tasked by authorities to save the world from mutated animals across the planet on Zoo.
What Hard Sun does by taking the power to save the world out the hands of its heroes is make its story more tragic, but also far more relatable to viewers. It’s far from an optimistic story, but it does bring the viewer closer to the action. Chances are pretty good that the average viewer isn’t a successful billionaire scientists or genius zoologists, so Hicks and Renko are far more relatable. Knowing the world is going to end, do you continuing just doing your job? Do you tell your family? How does your behavior change after learning this massive secret? Hard Sun gets you to think about your place in a similar circumstance by distancing itself from the apocalyptic event and placing the focus on the lives of these two very different officers.
Hard Sun premieres on Hulu on March 7, 2018.