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'Now Apocalypse' Debuts on Starz
March 10, 2019  | By David Hinckley

Millennials sure lead exciting lives on television.

The latest quartet of millennial besties to turn life into The Exciting Game With No Rules arrives on Starz Sunday with Now Apocalypse, airing at 9 p.m. ET right after the second season premiere of American Gods.

Now Apocalypse revolves around a fellow named Ulysses (Avan Jogia), who’s in his 20s and lives in L.A. with his long-time pal Ford (Beau Mirchoff).

Neither of these guys has a real job. Ford dreams of becoming a screenwriter. Ulysses (commonly called “Uly”) stopped trying to be an actor when he decided it was too much of a cliché, so now he does random odd jobs like a security guard. They pay just enough so he can sometimes kick in his half of the rent and he can stay stocked with weed, which he sometimes smokes as he rides his bicycle around the lower-end parts of the city.

Both Ulysses and Ford have female friends.

Ford’s is a sort-of conventional girlfriend, Severine (Roxane Mesquida), who throws him periodic curveballs like saying she wants an open relationship because that’s how humans lived 10,000 years ago before societies became agrarian and the concept of ownership started creeping in.  

Ulysses’s female friend Carly (Kelli Berglund) is more of a soulmate because, if we forgot to mention it, Ulysses is gay.

Uly and Carly love sharing all the details of their sex lives with each other and therefore with us, the viewers. Not that we need the verbal descriptions in most cases, because we’ve already seen their sex lives play out in living color. Let’s just say that Now Apocalypse is gender-neutral in that all four of its main characters spend considerable time topless.

Consistent with other shows about millennials scrambling to find the meaning of life – in the Starz lineup, Sweetbitter comes to mind – all the characters on Now Apocalypse are glib and witty. Well, Ford maybe a little less than the others, but even millennials are entitled to run a little slower if they have bulging pecs and rippling abs.

We probably should mention here that Severine is an astrobiological theorist, which presumably proves that once millennials do find a job, on the 10th or 20th try, it can leave the job titles of their parents and grandparents in the dust.

Carly, conversely, still dreams of her big acting break. Meanwhile, she’s employed on the down-low as a cam girl, which is the modern evolution of the women in booths at peep shows. She works through an online video streaming service, providing erotic entertainment for guys who lack real-life women.

As we tumble through these action-packed, sexually charged and somewhat ragged lives, Now Apocalypse focuses on the amusing parts. Since there are plenty of absurd elements, amusing isn’t hard to find, and when our protagonists don’t have the self-awareness to see it themselves, their friends see it for them. That’s what friends are for.

Uly becomes a focal point partly because, more than the others, he sometimes drifts into the bigger questions about life. His answers aren’t always profound since he admits he does some of his dumbest things just for the heck of it (not his precise words). But at least, you know, he’s thinking about it.

Uly also sometimes thinks that maybe Earth has been invaded by shape-shifting reptile aliens, and while Carly laughs out loud every time he mentions it, it’s true that Severine does sometimes have a clinical demeanor.

Which maybe is just the default mode for astrobiological theorists.

Like other shows about screwed-up millennials, or screwed-up people of any generation – nope, millennials did not invent being screwed up, because it precedes social media – Now Apocalypse has a quieter undercurrent of concern.

Much as these folks say they’re enjoying their life adventures, there are calmer, stabler lives they might enjoy just as much, and it’s just possible they could be wending their way toward those alternatives.

Should they get there, of course, Now Apocalypse would become less fun for the rest of us. So the real millennial question here may be this: Are they willing to sacrifice our entertainment for their happiness?

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