The Inverse Review

Hello Tomorrow! Isn’t the Next Severance — But It's Pretty Close

Billy Crudup stars in a breezy Apple TV+ series as a conman who sells lunar timeshares.

Written by Hoai-Tran Bui

It was only a matter of time before Apple TV+ cracked the Severance formula. The Emmy-winning series became a minor phenomenon when it debuted last year, cementing Apple TV+ as the coolest streaming platform that not enough people were watching, so it was inevitable that Apple would want to chase that high with even more high-concept sci-fi shows that featured killer wardrobes and ‘60s-inspired production design. Enter: Hello Tomorrow!

A retrofuturistic sci-fi show with as much of an eye for style as a sharp tongue to criticize the widening wealth gap, Hello Tomorrow! is a breezy scammer show that shoots for the moon, literally and figuratively. While it may not land among the stars, it at least lands on the roof of a very tall building.

In Hello Tomorrow!, humanity has already conquered the moon. It’s also conquered most everyday conveniences, with automated cars delivering packages, gleaming robots serving drinks and naughty witticisms at bars, and machines cooking full meals at the press of a button.

But the moon is a luxury residence for the rich and famous, while the rest can only look up at the sky and dream of a better life. That’s where Billy Crudup’s Jack Billings comes in. A con man who sells lunar timeshares, Jack promises a new American Dream to the poor and desperate, those with nothing to lose except a few hundred dollars. Crudup’s Jack is the consummate salesman, a personable charmer who understands his customers, relates to them and commiserates with them, before packing up and moving on to the next town. By the time he’s gone, the duped customers are left with a shiny brochure for his “Brightside” luxury community, and a phone number that only responds with an automated message.

But one day, Jack’s latest sales pitch is interrupted by the news that his ex-wife (Annie McNamara) has fallen into a coma after a terrible accident. And who should show up at his sales presentation but his estranged son Joey (Nicholas Podany), desperate to escape his worries by buying a Brightside timeshare. Struck by a crisis of conscience, Jack offers Joey a job as one of his salespeople, taking him under his wing while keeping the truth of his parentage — and of his elaborate scam — from him. But as he gets closer to Joey, Jack delays leaving town a little longer, leading his fragile web of lies to slowly unravel.

Hello Tomorrow! reworks the American Dream with a dash of retrofuturism.

Apple TV+

Everything about Hello Tomorrow! feels slightly familiar. If its sci-fi critique of capitalism wrapped in a tailored ‘60s suit doesn’t remind you of Severance, then its plot will make you think of The Music Man, but on the moon. And at first, it does seem to be a feather-light pastiche that offers nothing more than a stylish, Space Age-inspired entry into the ever-growing genre of scammer TV shows. But thanks to Crudup’s captivating performance as a complicated con man starting to believe his own lies, and a hysterical supporting cast including Alison Pill, Hank Azaria, Jacki Weaver, and Haneefah Wood, Hello Tomorrow! gets a little extra boost in its liftoff.

Wood, Azaria, and Dewshane Williams are an especially fun unit, Jack’s group of Brightside salespeople unaware they’re selling a scam. Wood is immensely likable as Jack’s righthand woman Shirley, while Azaria lends his particular brand of offbeat charisma to the harried gambler Eddie. But Williams is the unexpected low-key MVP of the group as the ambitious brown-noser Herb, a man so idiotic he might be a genius. When the show focuses on Jack and his colorful sales team, Hello Tomorrow! sometimes treads dangerously close to the Severance formula — the eccentric group of misfits forced together by unusual circumstances — but the new series manages to avoid redundancy with its core father-son relationship.

Dewshane Williams nearly steals the scenes in Hello Tomorrow!

Apple TV+

Nicholas Podany is appropriately guileless as the rookie salesperson with good intentions who’s slowly corrupted by Jack’s teachings, but it’s Crudup who fuels this series. A little bit slimy, a little bit sympathetic, and entirely too likable, watching Crudup is like watching the perfect sales pitch. You know he’s there with sleazy intentions, but the Cheshire grin falls and his mask slips. He’s just like you: slightly downtrodden and done with this world. Then he turns around and sells you on a dream and you start to believe him because, as Jack tells one customer, “What is life without a dream to make us happy?”

The con artist genre is full of “love to hate them” characters, ones whose antics are terrible and manipulative, but impossible to look away from. Hello Tomorrow! dares to offer some sympathy for the con artist, not because he’s on the road to redemption, but because he might buy into his own lies just a little too much. Jack is a liar and a cheat, but he’s also a dreamer. And in a show that’s all about reaching for the stars, that’s all too relatable.

While not necessarily the next Severance, Hello Tomorrow! is a cheery, sleek show that moves like a dream and gives some space to the dreamers. It’s lightweight and maybe a little on the style-over-substance side, but the lighter it is, the easier the takeoff.

Hello Tomorrow! premieres on Apple TV+ on February 17, 2023.

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