Glenn Garvin TV Reviews

Now Apocalypse Blends Its Trashy Sex With Sincere Affection

Mind the dildos in Gregg Araki's latest.

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'Now Apocalypse,' Starz

Now Apocalypse. Starz. Sunday, March 10, 9 p.m.

My parents used to say time passed at light speed between Sands of Iwo Jima and M*A*S*H. I don't think I fully understood them until seeing Starz' new comedy Now Apocalypse and recalling its putative ancestor Sex and the City. The moderate promiscuity of Carrie and Samantha seems like Cub Scout show-and-tell compared to what goes on among the randy millennial slackers of Now Apocalypse.

Anilingual sex! Robot sex! Reptilian space-alien sex! A polyamorous antifa warrior bows out of the middle of a three-way with the apologetic explanation that, "I'm meeting up with my boyfriends and we're setting Bank of America on fire." And an internet-assisted back-alley encounter is interrupted when one of the participants declares that "hook-ups make me feel gross and pagan," and proposes an alternative: "Handjobs only?"

There are many elements lurking beneath Now Apocalypse's nutball carnality, including a warm embrace of the enduring comfort of friendship and a tribute to the power of sexual self-expression. But first and foremost, this is a show in which dildo injuries are a constant menace (and, possibly, an allusion to the obsessions of earlier generations) and virtually any visit to a friend's home is likely to interrupt sweaty, noisy rutting. (Lest you accuse me of hyperbole: twice in the first three minutes of the pilot.)

For some of Apocalypse Now's twenty-something characters, scuffling aimlessly through the streets of Los Angeles, sex is nearly the only form of self-expression. Uly (indie film vet Avan Jogia), who has failed at acting and possibly homosexuality (he sometimes diddles himself to thoughts of his roommate's busty girlfriend), has already ruled movies, books, painting and photography as dead art forms. The last chance for human emotional fulfillment, he believes, is video-blogging. Mostly, he muses, "I do shit sometimes and I really don't know why," then answers his own question: "Just for the fucking fuck of it."

His roommate, Ford (Beau Mirchoff, MTV's Awkward), is blessed with muscular good looks and a fat trust fund that shield him from practically every human travail, including the awareness that the script he's been working on for six months on cyborg vampires is so awful that even his friends haven't been able to read beyond the second page.

He's even undisturbed that his astrobiological theorist girlfriend Severine (French actress Roxane Mesquida) dismisses his monogamous desires as a Paleolithic vestige of the primitive farmers who took over from hunter-gatherers, invented property and capitalism, and ruined everything.

Then there's Uly's long-time chum Carly (all-grown-up Disney Channel regular Kelli Berglund), a wannabe actress whose only screen credit so far is playing a dominatrix role on a cam-girl site (screen name: ONYRKNEES) where she punishes submissive clients by making them run lines from her drama-class productions.

These four friends live in a bawdy and generally content mutual orbit, troubled by little more than the occasional Tinder crisis. ("I barely sat down and the guy asked if I would rim him. … Maybe you can't find romance through a screen.") But now an odd sense of disquiet is creeping through the group, triggered by Uly's recurring nightmares of his current boyfriend being heartily boned by a space lizard.

Uly's claim that this is not a fantasy but some kind of sinister omen is initially met with skepticism by his friends. But he finds corroboration on the ultimate millennial oracle, the internet, and shows it to Carly, who reads aloud:

"Obama is a reptile. And Putin. And Hitler. Queen Elizabeth, Bill Gates, and Beyonce."

Uly, plaintively: "I feel like you're not taking me seriously."

Gregg Araki, creator and one of the executive producers of Now Apocalypse, has dabbled in television, including a few episodes of teen dramas like Riverdale and Heathers. Mostly, though, he's known for cheapjack indie films centered on sexual ambiguity and global cataclysm, not necessarily in that order.

This time, collaborating with sex-advice blogger Karley Sciortino, he's developed a bonkers sense of humor that serves him well. At 59, he's more than twice the age of his protagonists, and it's tempting to see his daffy portrayal of their shiftless, often tawdry, lives as get-off-my-lawn derision. But his treatment is too affectionate to be disdain. It's more like a reminder that sometimes we all do stuff just for the fucking fuck of it. Also, watch out for the dildos.

NEXT: Can a Self-Described 'Capitalist' Win the 2020 Democratic Primary?

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  1. It sounds tiresome

    1. Just go watch re-runs of The Office, grandma.

      1. I will not because I recently rewatched both versions. So there!

        1. You are such a millennial.

        2. I also recently rewatched Spaced which is just as good as The Office UK and possibly makes me even older and more out of touch

          1. That’s okay – I just re-watched The Shield, so I get it.

          2. Also, I agree Spaced is just as good as the Gervais Office.

        3. I will not because I recently rewatched both versions. So there!

          So, it sounds like you can watch Coupling and skip Now Apocalypse entirely.

    2. No kidding, but I’m sure it will be a big hit with the after-millennials.

      1. Just go watch more Three’s Company re-runs, grandpa.

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  2. The ads for it had me believing it was set in the 90’s, Araki’s heyday.

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  3. Anilingual sex! Robot sex! Reptilian space-alien sex! A polyamorous antifa warrior bows out of the middle of a three-way with the apologetic explanation that, “I’m meeting up with my boyfriends and we’re setting Bank of America on fire.” And an internet-assisted back-alley encounter is interrupted when one of the participants declares that “hook-ups make me feel gross and pagan,” and proposes an alternative: “Handjobs only?”

    Sounds like a typical Tuesday night for me!

    lol@crusty

    1. Back-alley encounters is the name you give to your freelance dumpster therapy sessions, is it not?

      1. I’m too old to go dumpster diving these days. Sad, really.

        Now I have drifters peg me while watching Morning Joe.

  4. He’s even undisturbed that his…girlfriend…dismisses his…desires as a Paleolithic vestige of the primitive farmers who took over from hunter-gatherers, invented property and capitalism, and ruined everything.

    I could care less about the show, but I have been seeing a lot of this theory lately- that property rights are this unnatural thing. I have even seen a lot of purported libertarians on reddit spouting the same thing. I just do not get where this comes from.

    Look at any aboriginal culture today, and you will see some form of property rights. People’s huts are still their huts. There are some tribes that are more collectivist than others, and there are often bizarre interpretations of these rules. But even if the tribe claims that a tool belongs to the whole tribe, they are defining property rights. And those tribes long fought with other tribes over hunting and gathering lands- they saw their locality as their land, not someone else’s.

    Even in nature, it is not uncommon to see “rights” on scarce resources mediated between animals. The whole point of marking territory is for predators to say “This is mine, go away”. It is a mutually beneficial system, since there is risk for predators who both hunt in the same territory up to and including death if they must fight one another. There are even examples of herd animals defending grazing land.

    1. Oddly too, it’s anti-progress(ive). The reason aboriginal tribes don’t have “Your spear” and “My spear” is because there’s only one fucking spear. The untold acres of farmland don’t belong to anyone because nobody can farm more than a couple hundred square feet at a time. Once you have two spears and three hunters, you have to start figuring out who should have the spear all of the time, who should have it some of the time, and who should never have it. For the good of the individual *and* the good of the tribe.

      1. I suspect the strongest and best hunters got first dibs on the spear. Go figure.

        But didn’t native americans make their own fucking spears and arrows? It wasn’t a scarce resource. I suppose maybe they fought over the *first* bronze blade, but that seems like an edge case.

        1. Native Americans never made it to the bronze age.

    2. yeah. Ancient civilizations had a whole shit ton of killing and pillaging for people who didn’t “own” anything.

      Perhaps they had different concepts of what was feasibly owned. Like large tracts of land, etc. People owned power and privilege. Access to food and mates.

      Otherwise, I suspect you owned what you made. Baskets, pots, etc. And you shared it with your family, which was pretty much the whole village. That’s not so different from today.

      1. I don’t think they are saying that ancient civilizations didn’t have property, but that the hunter gatherer societies that preceded civilization didn’t.

        1. Which, again, is what I call bullshit on.

          Property rights are essentially a right to exclude and control. You can exclude others from use of the property, and you control how that property is used.

          As I noted in my previous post, even animals have a rudimentary form of property rights. Tigers spray trees in their territory to say, “This is my area. Don’t hunt here.” It is a mutually beneficial mechanism for them and other Tigers, as it allows the animals to maximize the use of land (spreading out, rather than hunting bare one region) and avoid conflicts over the resources. Herd animals like some elk and deer mark with urine and scratches on trees to do the same for grazing and mating areas.

          And hunter gatherer societies did the same. Sure, in a small tribe, things were probably much more collectivist. Yet those tribes regularly warred over land all the time.

          The idea that property rights is some fictional invention of farmers is just asinine.

          1. Sure, in a small tribe, things were probably much more collectivist. Yet those tribes regularly warred over land all the time.

            In early hunter-gatherer society the band of people constantly had to follow the herds around and move to where the food plants were bearing. Therefore “property” was limited to what they could carry while migrating, mostly spears and baskets for hunting and gathering, and what was left of yesterday’s food that hadn’t already spoiled. They didn’t fight over land they were going to leave in a couple of days when the herds moved on or the berry bushes were plucked clean. That came later, after agriculture allowed people to quit migrating, invest in the production of food, and accumulate more than they could carry.

            That anyone would consider the earlier lifestyle “idyllic” is a pretty strong indication that they have never really been hungry.

  5. Well, I don’t have Starz, so I don’t have to care.

  6. This is a show about millennials having sex? Definitely Science Fiction. Pandas have more sex than millennials .

    1. People keep saying this, but I don’t think it’s true.

  7. Gawd, this sounds like the most boring show ever. At least porn has the dignity to skip the plot.

  8. Video-blogging? You mean vlogging grandpa?

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